The environment pays a price.
When most people think of the environmental cost of junk mail, they think of paper – but that barely scratches the surface. Although paper tree farms are a monoculture – an unnatural planting of just one type of tree, meaning that the biodiversity necessary for a good plant and animal habitat is not present – paper is at least a renewable resource. What is often less noticed is the fossil fuel consumption associated with junk mail – it costs gas not only to mail the junk to you, but also to transport the raw materials to be manufactured. The material the junk mail itself is printed on often isn’t ordinary paper, either – and many types of glossy paper are made from petrochemicals – plastic made from oil, which our world is rapidly running out of. Depending on who you ask, we might only have less than 52 years of oil left. While that might sound like enough to fuel your car, this ignores the list of thousands of things we still need oil to make, ranging from antihistamines to guitar strings, eyeglasses, toothpaste, plastics, food preservatives, inks, and dyes. It’s completely absurd that we should waste this limited resource just to annoy people with junk mail, especially when 44 percent is thrown away unopened.
At the very least, we need to tell the United State Post Office – part of our government – to stop encouraging junk mail just because having more mail to deliver is good for their bottom line. The New York Times reported in 2012 that this government agency has been reaching out to advertisers to increase the amount of junk mail annoying consumers and wasting resources every year. In 2012, the postmaster general was quoted saying, “Standard mail is the best way to reach your customer. You can advertise on Facebook, but I don’t see how you can trace the number of ‘likes’ to return on investment.” Your government should protect your fourth amendment right to privacy, not actively encourage advertisers to violate your home with unwanted solicitation.