Five Percent: Conserve Energy

Climate Change Is Important: Energy Conservation is the First Step


November 3, 2005

The Other Kind of Spam

Category: Conservation,Household,Tips – Tom Harrison – 11:18 pm

We probably get 5 or 10 catalogs every day in the mail, and several times a week an advertising newspaper. We get some magazines, most of which we actually read, but the junk is unbelievable. We make such a fuss about phone and email spam and have passed legislation in both cases to prevent it, yet both are nearly costless compared to postal spam!

I can add my phone number to the “do not call” list, and I can unsubscribe to most email spam (or at least filter it out pretty effectively). I would think it would be to everyone’s benefit to make it easy to cancel the catalogs. They are not inexpensive: to create, produce and then send by postal mail has to cost the merchant a dollar or two each piece. I’ll admit, we do flip through the occasional catalog when bored, but most of them go directly into the recycle bag since we almost always shop via Internet.

Maybe we can just call each company and ask to be taken off their catalog list?

I am a big believer in e-commerce (buying things over the Internet). It would seem to me that having a central warehouse, and having items shipped directly must be more efficient than being over-ordered for numerous retail stores, then driven home by us in our car. But I am not so sure. We got a book recently from Amazon.com that came in an oversized box filled with air-filled plastic bags. The book was shrink wrapped on a piece of cardboard. And there was some junk mail enclosed — total package was something like 6″ x 12″ x 18″ for an item whose actual volume was 2″ x 5″ x 8″, which is about 7 times more volume in packaging than product. Now we have to get rid of the plastic (glad they use the bags — better than packing peanuts), and the cardboard. But it also had to get delivered here in a truck. It just seems incredibly less efficient than it could be.

A bought a remote control recently via Internet. The remote is as big as my hand. It came encased in that incredibly tough plastic that is hard to cut, even with scissors, and that was in a cardboard display box. The box was in a big cardboard shipping box. Why?

To send me something that goes directly into the trash, whether junk mail or excessive packaging, seems like a huge waste of resources, and resources = energy.

I can only conclude one thing from this: the cost of energy is not getting accounted for in all of these transactions. Either that or it’s way too cheap. Or, people at these companies are not doing a lot of thinking. Or perhaps all three.

1 Comment

  1. [...] About a year ago, I wrote about my efforts to stop junk mail. It took two rounds of calling, emailing and then a couple of months before the volume slowed. It did slow and most of the places we requested list removal for honored the request. But it was a lot of work, and it was far from complete. Every time we order something from a new company, we get on a new list (or lists). And now as the Christmas season is upon us, some are back. It seems unstoppable. But the folks at IdealBite found a great service that I have signed up to stop junk mail with GreenDimes: for a dime a day, not only will they remove your name from junk mail lists, but also plant a new tree each month. [...]

    Pingback by Five Percent » Junk Mail Report: GreenDimes has a real solution — November 18, 2006 @ 5:06 pm

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