For those of you who don't know, Earth Day is April 22, and Arbor Day is April 25. In the spirit of thinking about the environment, I came across some interesting statistics which, when you put them together, give some shocking conclusions. The first piece of information is an article about the volume of mail sent through the US Postal Service each year (over 100 Billion pieces of junk mail). The second piece of information is actually a couple different statistics I gathered on the web, such as the size of a business envelope, US population estimates, the number of inches in a mile, distance from the Earth to the Moon, and so on. I was horrified to find out how much outbound marketing is destroying the environment.
Shocking Junk Mail Statistics & Environmental Damage
- Junk Mail Kills 2.6 Million Trees Every Year. I assumed each piece of "standard mail" was junk mail (this is only about 50% of the total volume of US Mail) and assumed that junk mail uses 2 sheets of paper (1 envelope and 1 letter), found the number of sheets of paper per tree, and did some math. Of course some junk mail is only a postcard, but some is a catalog. And some does use recycled paper. But I did not factor in any of the damage caused by all those trucks burning gas to deliver all the mail either.
- Every US Household Gets 6 Pieces of Junk Mail Each Day. I took the total volume of junk mail and divided by the number of households and the number of mail delivery days and got the answer, which is 6.3.
- In 5 Days We Produce Enough Junk Mail to Reach the Moon. I took the width of a business envelope (8-7/8 inches) and multiplied by the number of junk mail pieces and divided by the number of inches to the moon, and saw that we could reach the moon 61 times per year with our junk mail. If you divide the number of mail delivery days by 61, you get 5, which means every 5 days we could reach the moon again with our junk mail.
- Junk Mail Produces 1 Billion Pounds of Landfill Each Year. If you take the 2.6 million trees killed each year and convert that into pounds of paper, you get roughly 2 billion pounds. Even if you assume half of that is recycled (I saw an estimate of 45% on Wikipedia) you still have 1 billion pounds of paper going into landfills
- Junk Mail Weighs Almost Double the US Military's Tanks. Our junk mail weighs nearly twice as much as all the US tanks in the world, combined. If you take the average US tank at a weight of 67 tons (a ton is 2,000 pounds) and divide the total weight of paper from junk mail by that number, you find that junk mail produced each year weighs the same as over 15,000 tanks. According to Wikipedia, the US military has about 8,000 tanks. By the way, a tank weighs about 40 times more than a standard car.
How to Reverse the Environmental Damage from Junk Mail
Link to this article using the link anchor text "stop outbound marketing" and email your friends to do the same thing. Leave a comment below so that everyone can publicly see how many trees we will plant. Don't have a blog or website? Start one! Or just leave a comment below showing your support and we'll count that too.
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Note: We're doing this program in cooperation with the Arbor Day Foundation.