Every year, the average US resident gets 41 POUNDS of junk mail! That’s nearly 15 BILLION pounds of paper that is destroyed throughout the year to send mail.
This does not even include normal mail (credit card statements, govt. notices, letters from people, etc). In total, we are probably destroying 25 to 30 BILLION pounds of paper in order to send mail in the USA. It takes about 25 trees to produce a ton of paper (2 thousand pounds). Thus, 375 MILLION trees are being cut down per year in order to support our paper mail addiction.
The US Post office can save the environment and actually be more profitable in the process. Here is how we get there.
1 – The post office makes every US resident get an email address with @usps.com domain. The Post office would assign the email addresses to each resident – it could be some combo of people’s name and random numbers, or just random numbers of a certain length (imagine a “postal number” – that is like your social security number).
2 – We don’t need the Post Office to build out this technology. Microsoft, Google or Amazon can handle this scale with their current services. We can have the US Post office submit a bid to these tech giants to power this email system. Here’s the cool part. We dont need fancy features here – No chatting, calendering, or other things. Just pure e-mail that comes into an inbox.
3 – Here is the simple “innovation”. No one can randomly email to people with a @usps.com address. Current direct marketing firms and other firms who send a lot of marketing mail such as credit card companies would have to sign up with USPS to be on a whitelist of valid senders. Once a firm is approved and wants to send mail to let’s say, to all households in New Jersey, they can just filter to that segment and create an email and send it out via the @usps.com platform. Now, they would have to pay for this. We would have “digital stamps” – so maybe instead of spending 35 cents per mail, the marketer is charged 25 cents per household delivery. This becomes a great way for the post office to maintain a strong revenue stream and might actually result in more companies wanting to send mail through this platform. It also reduces the burden on the post office to physically deliver this mail (gas costs, truck costs, man hours, etc). The existing postal mail carriers can then focus all their energy on sending “bulky” mail to households – such as amazon boxes, gift boxes, food deliveries , etc. This would allow the post office to compete more successfully with the likes of FedEx and UPS.
4 – We would make all Government related communication come through this platform as well. So any notice from the Social Security Office, IRS, Medicare, your state or local govt, etc would come through this platform. The nice thing here is that we will be able to track if people got the message and read it.
This is NOT that hard of a technical problem to solve. The technology and scale already exists and can be provided by Microsoft, Google, or Amazon. If this was created and enforced by the US Govt, within 5 years, we can greatly reduce forest pollution at a scale that would actually be meaningful for the planet.