Ryan Chartrand

At least 304 times a year you journey to your mailbox in the hope of receiving a much-needed paycheck, a card from a loved one or the newest issue of US weekly (at least I do) only to find out you’ve been pre-approved three times for a Capitol One No-Hassle Rewards Credit Card. After retrieving the coupons, million-dollar sweepstakes and other bogus ads, you start sorting through the massive amount of junk mail only to find one or two items of pertinent value. Everything else gets tossed (hopefully recycled) filling up your trash bins everyday. Junk mail is undoubtedly annoying but also bears a heavy burden on our environment. Today we are lucky enough to have ways of stopping junk mail, saving trees and patience.

The creation and distribution of junk mail consumes an exorbitant amount of natural resources and energy. Every year 100 million trees are chopped down and 28 billion gallons of water are used to make junk mail in America. The energy required to chop the trees, manufacture the paper and ship the junk mail results in millions of pounds of greenhouse gases, not to mention the loss of carbon-dioxide absorption of 100 million trees. With every tree soaking up about 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide in its lifetime, it is easy to recognize the impact of wasting paper. Disposal of junk mail also holds environmental repercussions. The typical American household throws away 70 pounds of junk mail per year (44 percent is never opened!), costing Americans $235 million dollars annually just to dispose of junk mail. The environmental consequences of wasting paper and overfilling our landfills pose serious threats to the future health and sustainability of our society and should not be ignored.

Organizations such as Greendimes have created ways to combat the annoyance and environmental ramifications of waste mail. For a dime a day ($3 a month), Greendimes will remove your name, address and information from the Direct Marketing Association’s list. What this means that you will no longer be subject to many of the credit card offers, insurance ads and free catalogues that you normally receive. Greendimes will also work continually to keep you off catalogue and other mailing lists. According to Greendimes, a decline in junk mail should become apparent within two to three months, and if not, they are committed to tracking down the companies that are still sending you junk mail.

Additionally, Greendimes (whose fitting slogan is “Our planet – do you give a dime?”) will plant a tree in your name every month you subscribe to their service. They have developed partnerships with reforestation and agri-forestry projects in Haiti, India and Senegal. The recent success of Greendimes has prompted CNN, Fox News, Business Weekly and many other media outlets to cover this young green company.

Since their launch in September of 2006 Greendimes’ efforts have preserved and planted nearly 290,000 trees, saved over 5 million gallons of water, and removed nearly 2 million pounds of junk mail from mailboxes all over America.

Deforestation, overflowing landfills, global warming, and frustration are all effects of wasteful junk mail. Fortunately, companies like Greendimes are taking the crucial steps to make a less wasteful and cleaner planet. To learn more on how you can significantly reduce your junk mail and help plant trees around the world, visit www.greendimes.com, but in the meantime, try to recycle the junk mail you do receive.

Chad Worth is an industrial engineering senior, and the president of the Empower Poly Coalition and the Hydrogen Energy Club. Chad also doesn’t really have a subscription to US Weekly.

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