You may have read that junk mail produces as much carbon dioxide as seven states combined, or as much as 9 million cars. Well apparently one postal worker got that memo.
Postal employee Steve Padgett of Apex, North Carolina decided to take matters into his own hands, according to the Christian Science Monitor. The Vietnam Vet, known as "Mailman Steve," has spent years hording the junk mail he was supposed to be delivering to customers on his route. Recently, Mailman Steve was sentenced to three years of probation, a $3,000 fine, and 500 hours of community service for delaying and destroying mail -- a tractor-trailer's worth.
However, as the Monitor points out, the community congratulated Mailman Steve as much as punished him. While no one apparently complained about not getting their junk mail for years (hmm, interesting!), many commended him for making their lives simpler.
According to court records, the now-former mailman wasn't motivated by the environment as much as by health problems and a desire to lighten his load. But his sentiment is expressed by many, particularly greens.
Bills to stop unwanted mail have been introduced in 19 states in the last two years, though none has passed, in part because of strong opposition by the direct mail industry, which is said to affect employment of 10 million people. Interestingly, direct mail has been increasing in volume in recent years, despite decreases in other types of snail mail and a slackening economy. Plus, the industry points out that the technique is important to small and local businesses, who often cannot afford broadcast or other advertising.
Although the issue of junk mail may not be as cut and dried as some like to make it out, there is no denying the resource use, and the facts that human population is exploding worldwide while global warming looms. (This is particularly true during the season of holiday catalogs, which can threaten vital forests.) It's time to get creative and make resource-smart improvements to the way we live.
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