Most of us end up tossing the daily influx of junk mail, catalogs, and solicitations that flood our mailboxes. Unfortunately, all that paper adds up quickly to a whole lot of waste, squandered resources, and greenhouse gases.
Direct marketing devastation
Mountains of mail
The mass-marketing industry relies increasingly on direct mail and catalogs to tempt our interest in an ever-growing slew of products and services. In fact, 90 billion pieces were sent in 2000, up considerably from the 35 billion pieces sent in 1980. Every year, each adult in the United States receives nearly 560 pieces, or about 41 pounds, of unsolicited mail.
Carbon and other waste
It's estimated that 100 million trees are used annually to produce all the junk mail that's distributed to US homes. In addition to loss of trees, processing all that paper requires 28 billion gallons of water. What's more, creating and transporting the mountains of mail results in more greenhouse gas emissions than 2.8 million cars produce in a year.
Lack of recycling
A US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) study found that in 2005, 5.8 million tons of catalogs and other direct-bulk mailings were distributed in the US, and less than 36 percent were recycled. Indeed, approximately 44 percent of this unsolicited mail is carted to landfills unopened and unread, costing US taxpayers $320 million each year.
- direct mail: The term used by direct marketers to describe the practice of sending large amounts of marketing and advertising materials to the public.
- junk mail: Unsolicited mail that appears in millions of American mailboxes each day.
- National Waste Prevention Coalition
- Center for A New American Dream
- Consumer Research Institute
- Native Forest Network
- Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
- Junkbusters - Junk Mail
- EcoCycle - Junk Mail
- Direct Marketing Association
- US Postal Service - Direct Mail
- Center for A New American Dream - Just the Facts: Junk Mail Facts and Figures
- 41 Pounds - Junk Mail Impact
- Ohio Environmental Protection Agency - Junk Mail Reduction
- Consumer Research Institute - Annual environmental impact of junk mail
- US Environmental Protection Agency - Municipal Solid Waste in the United States: 2005