Your Mailbox: Paper AND Plastic – National Oceans Month, Part 3

“…the mail never stops. It just keeps coming and coming and coming. There’s never a let up – it’s relentless!  Every day it piles up more and more and more!  You gotta get it out, but then more you get it out, the more it keeps coming in!” – Newman, “Seinfeld”

Confession: I love the U.S. Postal Service.  There is no other service in the world like it.  You want to mail a letter from Nome, Alaska to Supai, Arizona? We’ve got snowmachines and a mule train ready to go and that’ll be $0.49, sir!  Forty-nine cents! You can’t buy a can of soda for that.  Plus…  have you seen these?

SHARK STAMPS.  I’ve got like 20 sheets of these – and since they are Forever stamps, it’s unlikely that I will EVER run out, barring an apocalypse of some kind, and even  then, we’ve got someone to handle the mail.

“Our happiness was about to unravel just like Kevin Costner’s career: because of The Postman” – Homer Simpson

If I have a complaint, it’s that because of the awesome power of the post office, we’re drowning in paper and plastic, and obviously, that’s bad news for the forests and oceans.

So check this out.  I haven’t been keeping up with the mail since I went on a dive trip to Catalina Island, about 3 weeks ago.

HOLY CRAP.  That’s 1 1/3 pounds of stuff I did not ask for and do not want.  Everything from RedPlum coupons to solicitations from money lenders to various charities that, while noble, are not something that I’d likely donate to (at this time – who knows, if I ever won the lottery, everybody rides!).   That’s just 3 weeks!  If the pace keeps up, that’s almost 25 pounds of paper trash a year made from trees that should have been left in the forest.  There’s 22 houses on my street!  That’s 550 pounds a year right there!  11 streets in my neighborhood, that’s 3 tons of paper!  THERE’S…  OK, you get the point.  I recycle my paper , of course, but that’s not the point – it should have never entered the consumer cycle.

And that’s just the paper – our old friend Mr. Plastic rears his ugly head.  This is everything I pulled out off the paper (most municipalities [like the City of Phoenix] tell you to drop the junk mail in the recycling bin and they’ll take care of it).  Rubber magnets.  Fake credit cards. Those plastic windows.  It weighs almost nothing, but if you just throw it out, it’s going to wind up in the ecosystem.  It’s basically one step away from becoming coral-killing, plankton-starving, microplastics. It’s a goddamn mess, and guess what?  It may not be on the menu, but I guarantee, you’re eating it too.

So, what can you do?  Well, there’s actually A LOT of stuff you can can do about it.  Rather than tick everything off myself, check out this article from the Washington Post:

How to stop junk mail and save trees — and your sanity

Seriously,  click it and read it and then do all the things in it.  Even I learned something from it, like how to stop those infernal RedPlum mailers.   That alone will probably stop about 5 pounds of paper a year.

The only other thing I could recommend would be to download the PaperKarma app.   It allows you to snap a picture of who is sending you the thing, and then they do the leg work of getting them to stop.  I know it works because I received an e-mail from the Arizona Opera apologizing for the extraneous mail after I unsubscribed with PaperKarma.

And hey, I bet your letter carrier will thank you.  Especially after they just hauled all your crap from Amazon to your door step.


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