Junk mail destroys 100 million trees every year—and other alarming facts.

Posted by Kevin D'Arcy on Jul 22, 2020 3:17:00 PM

Digitizing documents and “going digital” has been happening for a while now (like 2 decades), but many companies are doing a half-job of it. Paper still exists in the office, and a lot of it is in the form of junk mail—that you don’t even want. 

There are problems a-plenty with paper as far as the planet is concerned. In the front end, paper production is the fourth leading cause of greenhouse gases (that’s the stuff that heats up the world and melts the ice caps). In the back end, paper takes up 16% of landfill space. 

Paper impacts nearly every layer of your business. It creates obstacles. And now, more than ever, companies want to get rid of those obstacles for good and become truly green—which means stopping that junk mail at the door (or before it’s printed).

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The paper mountain the corporate world is up against:

The average office worker prints 28 pages daily and uses 10,000 sheets of paper annually (Gartner Group). In the US, 4 million tonnes of office paper is discarded every year—that’s enough to build a 12-foot high wall of paper from New York to California! (American Forest and Paper Association). North America accounts for over 1/3 of total paper consumption. (International Institute for Environment and Development). 

Sadly, 50% of office paper waste ends up in landfills because too much paper is improperly recycled, particularly from the corporate world. Canada uses 6 million tonnes of paper and paperboard annually, but only 25% of it is properly recycled (Environment Canada). 


Here’s what can happen if you stop junk mail from hitting your mailroom floor:

Paperless or eFiling systems could save up to 1.4 trillion pounds of paper and 728,000 trees if every company transitioned from paper to digital (Going Green Today). Recycling one tonne (2000 lbs) of paper can save: 17 trees, 6953 gallons of water, 463 gallons of oil and 583 pounds of air pollution (Town of Newmarket), three cubic yards of landfill space, 4000 kilowatts of energy, and 7000 gallons of water—a 64% energy savings, a 58% water savings, and 60 pounds less of air pollution!  

By implementing more effective recycling programs at your workplace, you significantly cut down the amount of paper being wasted. Those 17 trees that were saved (above) by stopping paper workflows can absorb 250 lbs of carbon dioxide from the air annually (burning that same amount of paper creates 1500 lbs of carbon dioxide). Total sigh, right? It doesn’t make sense to let junk mailers contribute that kind of destruction to the planet.

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How to put an end to junk mail

Putting an end to paper mail coming into your office, is imperative. Over 100 billion pieces of junk mail are delivered in the U.S each year—billion with a B!—That’s epidemic. 

Junk mail destroys almost 100 million trees every year and most of those trees come down in the largest forests on earth (in Canada and Indonesia). Junkmail makes up one-third of the total of all mail delivered in a year, and 42% of it goes straight into landfills unopened. 

The main junk mail culprits are Direct Mail Advertisers like directmail.com that promote restaurants, car dealerships, trades companies, credit card companies, and political parties. Junk mail producers’ carbon footprint is enormous—the equivalent of emissions from 9 million vehicles.  

Putting an end to it is as easy as hiring one of the many companies out there that contact direct marketers and tell them to remove you from their mailing lists. This isn’t a foolproof solution, however, as companies report that about 80% of junk mail disappears, but the last 20% takes a tougher position—opt-out companies you hire to contact direct mailers on your behalf cannot force compliance. Still, an 80% reduction right off the bat would be a great gain for the planet. 

Here are three organizations that help get your company name and address off Junk Mailer lists:

  • Paperkarma is an app that stops both paper junk mail and digital junk mail (that lands in your inbox) 
  • Catalog Choice, a not-for-profit organization that sends opt-out requests on your behalf
  • DMA Choice

It’s time to stop accepting junk mail at your business. Doing so will keep those 100 million trees standing, reduce unwanted paper waste, keep your digital workflows truly digital and, according to Edward Humes, author of Garbology, will save enough energy in one day to heat 250 000 homes. 

Visit MES today for more information on transitioning to a paperless office, or to learn more about converting your paper files.

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