As we look back on 42 years of celebrating Earth Day, the Postal Service continues to build on the tradition of more than 230 years of promoting a greener lifestyle. Throughout our history, we’ve championed new ideas to help minimize our environmental impact across the country.
We’ve created sustainable spaces for employees and customers working in and conducting business at 33,000 postal facilities across the country. Postal facilities are renovated to use less energy and water, create less waste, and have less impact on the environment.
We’ve been at the cutting edge of transportation. With the largest civilian fleet in the world — nearly 216,000 vehicles traveling more than 1.2 billion miles a year — the Postal Service looks for ways to reduce the environmental impact of our fleet by employing alternative fuel, electric and hydrogen fuel vehicles. And let’s not forget our “fleet to feet” service, where we deliver 9,000 mail routes every day by walking — the most energy-efficient way to deliver mail. We also have nearly 80,000 “park and loop” routes where letter carriers deliver mail on foot on the majority of the route after driving to neighborhoods.
We’ve developed innovative ways to recycle and reduce mail waste. More than a half-billion packages and envelopes provided to customers are 100 percent recyclable and created using environmentally-friendly materials. We also partner with companies, agencies and organizations in mail-back programs to safely recycle and properly dispose of e-waste, including small electronics, compact fluorescent lamps and discarded or expired pharmaceuticals.
Our highly successful “Read, Respond, Recycle” program is a simple, free Post Office lobby recycling program that is currently being used at more than 10,000 postal facilities across the country, and locally, including the Rockford Post Office and its surrounding stations. By placing secure recycle bins in Post Office lobbies, the Postal Service is making it easier for customers and business to make environmentally-friendly choices.
All these initiatives have helped contribute to the Postal Service recycling 215,000 tons of material in 2011. But it doesn’t stop there.
Mail is big business. Much of it comes from small- and mid-sized businesses, like the ones in our community. These businesses see the value of the mail, whether it be catalogs, direct mail, newsletters or advertising mail. They see the direct impact mail has on their customers and the local economy. And their efforts have helped contribute to the $1 trillion mailing industry that employs more than 8 million people worldwide.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the nation’s environmental watchdog, advertising mail represents less than 2.4 percent of the nearly 254 million tons of waste created annually. Still, that’s too much for us, and that’s why the Postal Service continues to be committed to sustainability and minimizing mail’s environmental impact not only in our local community, but throughout America.
Concern for the environment didn’t begin with Earth Day — it led to Earth Day. We at the Postal Service understand this and will remain steadfast by eliminating waste, reducing energy, and lowering our carbon footprint. That’s being sustainable. That’s being responsible.
Charles J. Miller
Lakeland District, Rockford
From the April 25-May 1, 2012, issue