It takes 100 Million (100,000,000) trees to create the junk mail that is sent out in one year. It takes 28 billion gallons of water to make this junk mail and the average person wastes 70 hours a year dealing with junk mail.... so in other words... JUNK MAIL IS BAD. There are several services available to help you reduce the amount of junk mail you receive. For example, you can register with the Direct Marketing Associations "do-not-mail list" and be careful where you fill out your name and address. Even if you follow all the steps you will most likely still receive some (hopefully less) junk mail, so what do you do with it? Well recycle it is the obvious answer, but I found this "Return To Waster" stamp idea at the ToyBox that I thought was interesting. In the post they advocate sending it back to the sender with the following message stamped on it...
"RETURN TO WASTER, You are contributing to the 100 million trees wasted in creating junk mail".
Clearly, sending the mail back is a less sustainable act, on it's own, than recycling it because it is tying up resources and using energy, however, this may be a way to affect change in the system that is creating so much junk mail. The companies don't send the mail to annoy us, they send it looking for customers. If they start receiving it back in large quantities with a stamp expressing our disapproval of their marketing techniques they may start considering more effective means of advertising.
To sum it up I think this is a cool idea... no it is not going to lower you carbon footprint... but yes, it could ultimately make a positive sustainable impact. At the very least if enough people start stamping and returning it will raise awareness about the junk mail problem. I recommend doing everything you can to reduce your junk mail deliveries first and then trying this simple form of protest to deal with the rest.
I emailed Fridolin Beisert, the guy who came up with the stamp to find out if he is selling them. He explained that he is not selling them but told me where I could make my own, he also quite eloquently stated...
I am believer that we need to fight the concept of "waste" together and collectively, and that the real "profit" would be for companies to stop sending us unwanted junkmail.
Beisert had his stamp made for about $14. As much as I like the "Return to Waster" slogan I am considering making mine say "We're not going to take it!" in the words of Twisted Sister. Let me know what you think.
Here are some links to info on reducing your Junk mail:
UPDATE: The Stamps are available to buy!
I did some calling around and found a great local stamp shop. They are a very small business but have a online store and they are going to sell the stamps at a discounted price so you will be able to buy one of your own for $11. That includes the 4" x 1" hand made wooden rubber stamp and a red ink pad. If you already have your own ink pad you can buy just the stamp for $7! They are not available in her store yet, but you can get them from her on Etsy.
I did some research at the Post Office and found that for Bulk Mail (the things addressed to "RESIDENT") if you stamp it and return it the Post Office just ends up recycling it, unless the marketer paid a little extra for a forwarding or return service which they do to make sure their lists are accurate and up to date. First class mail which a lot of credit card applications and other letters use will be returned to the sender.