Sunday, May 07, 2006

The High Costs of Junk Mail

Freedom Blog, written by US Army officers Bill Perkins and Ike Wilson, is quickly becoming one of my favorites because of the very thorough analysis they do. Yesterday, Bill published this post on the likely environmental costs of junk mail; look at the numbers he came up with:

Assuming that:

  • each person in America gets 15 pages of junk mail per day
  • the average tree produces 80,000 sheets of paper
  • there are 296 million people in America
  • there are 700 trees in an acre,
  • 100 sheets of paper weighs one pound
  • each piece of junk mail travels 200 miles by car

then each year in America:

  • 17 million trees are killed to produce junk mail
  • 24,770 acres of trees are killed to produce junk mail
  • 42 million gallons of gasoline are burned to transport junk mail
  • 821 million pounds of CO2 are released into the atmosphere from burning gasoline to transport junk mail

That's what I think about when I get junk mail. Even if, as stated by Wikipedia, there is a 45% paper recycling rate in America, half of that number of trees is a lot of destruction of living things so that we can have junk mail. Is it any wonder that our civilization is rapidly bringing the earth to its knees?

These are just Bill's conclusions -- he does a very thorough job of explaining the reasoning behind the numbers. The one point he makes that we can't stress enough: this has got to be a very productive form of advertising, or it wouldn't happen... I'm sure I've pointed to the Center for a New American Dream's "Declare Your Independence from Junk Mail" campaign before, but now is certainly a good time to mention it again, as they have a full range of resources for getting yourself removed from junk mail lists.... Do it!

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