We live in a 33 unit housing co-op. As in many apartment buildings, stacks of junk mail and flyers would make a daily trip from the mail carrier to the mailboxes and straight on to the recycling bin. Only two or three mailboxes had “No junk mail” stickers.
Here was the environmental footprint of the Christmas card in 2005, according to the UK government:
One billion Christmas cards, weighing 20,000 tonnes and equivalent in volume to at least 20 Olympic sized swimming pools, will end up as waste this Christmas.
That's only the tip of the (rapidly melting) iceberg. Consider the energy involved in transporting those cards to a billion addresses – energy expended all the more inefficiently because postal services have to ramp up each year for a huge surge in mail, and then ramp back down again.
From the energy, trees, water and other resources needed to manufacture cards... to the pollution and carbon footprint involved in delivering them... to the waste of disposing of millions upon millions of them every year... isn't it time the holiday greeting card died a quiet, dignified death?
I got a very longwinded email yesterday morning peppered with an ask to buy a new book called World Changing. The appeal started with, "Our book, Worldchanging: A User's Guide for the 21st Century, comes out on November 1. It offers 600 pages of insight into successful ways to build sustainability and create social change. It is intended to be, quite literally, a manual for learning to change the world."
Ah! Hope! Someone has compiled some models for successful, sustainable communities, and provided a step-by-step offering for those who feel called to lead the way. But then I kept reading...