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October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day: Take Back Your Mailbox

So, today is Blog Action Day, where thousands of bloggers have signed up to write about issues related to ecology, cleaning up the environment, climate change, etc. Do you know that tired saying, "every day is earth day"? Well, for me, and many like me, every day is Blog Action Day (at least every day I post a blog!). Nonetheless, my contribution requires some context. Do you remember what it was like before caller ID? My first mobile phone was not exactly what I would call "cool" by today's standards (or even yesterday's standards). This beauty was about the size of a small loaf of bread with this five inch rubber antenna and a goofy belt-clip assembly that made me look like a cop when I was wearing it. But to me, all that was a mere pittance to pay; for this this two pound plastic box of wires and circuits had caller ID.

Why did I love caller ID so much? It never seemed right to me that, just because someone has a phone means that they also have some obligation or responsibility to engage anyone (or anything) at the other end of the line. Now with the advent of caller ID and the National Do Not Call Registry we have the ability to screen out most telephone solicitation and accept the calls that we want.

Now, in that same vein, we are seeing opportunities to install sort of caller ID for our mailbox. The Direct Marketing Association has a little known program for people to get their name off of all those mailing lists, thus clearing up some space in your mailbox and ultimately reducing paper in landfills. One recent study has shown that paper products amount to nearly 25% of all waste going into area landfills (second only to construction waste which makes up 31%). That number might seem high, but I should add (not proudly) that according to Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, Colorado is ranked 38th when compared to the other states, in terms of recycling rate.

Many folks might consider Coloradans largely to be the crunchy-green types, well educated, socially and ecologically conscious,etc. But I'm sorry to say that most of that is a stereotype (although a shift is underway). Sure, there are certain enclaves throughout the state that would be considered more eco-friendly than others, like Summit County, Telluride, Crested Butte, Steamboat, etc. And there are also a few bastions of progressive thinkers in the university towns of Boulder and to a lesser degree Fort Collins. But by and large, Colorado has traditionally been a state where individual freedom dominates all and there are very few laws that mandate recycling. In fact there are many areas in the state where the garbage hauler has no recycling programs or the county landfills only accept the bare minimum of post-consumer recyclable materials. Simply put, too much stuff is being thrown out, and there is really no such thing as "out".

Thankfully, another service has appeared recently on the radar screen that allows you to pick and choose which ones of the hundreds (thousands?) of catalogs you want and which you don't. The service is called Catalog Choice, and it lets you screen out even more of that crap that is all to often ending up in landfills across the country. So my piece of advice for the day, especially in this season of the holiday catalog, click on the link below and started. It's free, easy and there are no strings attached.

Photo Source: Low Impact Living

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