Guilt-Free Green Shipping With USPS

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Creative Commons License photo credit: michael hilton

Ship It, Ship It Good

‘Tis the season to reflect on those that make our lives a little better and appreciate what they do for us. While you may not especially enjoy waiting in line at the post office, hoping that all of the good holiday stamps aren’t gone, here are some great reasons to appreciate the United States Postal Service (USPS) while you’re mailing your Christmas cards and packages this year.

Look down at a priority mail envelope from USPS and you’ll notice that it has a little “recycled paper” seal on it, encouraging recycling- which is great! But the USPS is doing more than just lip service for their recycling efforts. For starters, their website states that they are, “the first mailing or shipping company to achieve Cradle to CradleSM certification for [their] packaging.”

Cradle to Cradle Summary

Cradle to CradleIf you have not yet heard of the term Cradle to Cradle, please check out this great book by William McDonough and Michael Braungart, Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things. Sometimes abbreviated C2C, Cradle to Cradle is a waste-free, holistic framework that assesses a product’s safety to people and the environmental sustainability, or design for future life. The framework focuses on using safe materials that can be disassembled and recycled as technical nutrients or composted as biological nutrients. The central ideas of C2C can be applied not only to industrial design and manufacturing, but also cities and social systems. Read more about recycling terms and definitions on RecycLingo.

Next, check out the U.S. Postal Service’s green initiatives. It is really impressive how many strides the USPS has made in being very eco-friendly.

Back in 2005, the Post Office Box Lobby Recycling Program was started and it has since expanded. Over 8,000 post offices are participating in the “Read, Respond, Recycle” program, including those in many national parks. The program makes it easy for customers checking their PO Boxes to simply recycle unwanted mail on the spot in the lobby. The recycling bins are bright blue and obvious, you can’t tamper with them because they are locked, and the opening slot is narrow and designed for items like magazines so you need not worry about privacy. They’ve thought of everything!

Recycling Efforts

As for other recycling efforts, adhesives used in their stamps are biodegradable (with water-based ink), and they also purchase hundreds of millions of dollars of products with recycled content each year. It’s really wonderful to see our postal service embrace this kind of mindful reuse and recycling, and built environmental standards into their system.

A few more positive features:

At select Post Offices, you can get free mail-back envelopes for recycling inkjet cartridges, cell phones, PDAs, digital cameras and other small electronics.

You can save the energy it takes for you to drive to your nearest Post Office by just ordering stamps or other supplies online.

You can order a huge box of Priority mailers for FREE.

Did you know? A third of their mail deliveries are made on foot, but for their vehicle fleet, alternative fuels, bio-based oils, and re-tread tires are used. Read more about USPS and their green innovation.

Way to go, USPS!

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