As Charlie, my dog, and I went on our afternoon walk, we noticed the temperature in Austin was around 100 degrees, which is mildly discomforting this late in September. We both looked at each other and acknowledged the dreadful weather and the realization that something needs to be done about preserving the environment. Climate change is happening right in front of us. As we commenced our walk around the neighborhood, I pondered the solutions to saving energy and reducing waste. It happened to be junk removal week, so there were couches and mattresses lining the streets like LA’s Skid Row.
The amount of waste produced in America is astonishing. Austin has recently delivered composting bins to our neighborhood to help our community reduce waste. We already recycle at home and now composting is another way we can help. For the composting process, people at home will have to separate our food from lawn scraps to reuse waste. Then the city collects the bins and compiles all the content at the composting facility. The pile sits for 12 months as it decomposes and then the city can use the finished product to fertilize public areas. It seems like a pretty good deal when all we have to do is pay $1/month extra for an additional bin collected to help reduce waste to help the city. According to the City of Austin, about 46% of “trash” is composting. In fact, Austin took it upon themselves and took the initiative to help Austin go green.
As we finished our walk around the block, I decided to grab the mail, which is always a tricky feat while holding the dog’s leash and grabbing the mail with one hand as Charlie tries to pull away. Of course, this time as I leaned over to get the mail and my glasses start to slip off my face, but thankfully Charlie was surprisingly good and did not run away. I grab a handful of mail and place it on top of the mailbox and the mail flies off the top and we have to chase the mail from a gust of wind. Most of the mail flailing around was obnoxious coupons that we get piles of every week. After I few choice words and fumbling, I managed to collect all the mail and the dog before returning home. With that said, I have a bone to pick with Austin and the “Green movement”. While they are making an effort with composting, why is no one talking about the absurd amount of junk mail?
After going through the useless junk mail, I decided to do a little research to see how bad the junk mail epidemic is. I dug pretty deep and found a great source, Wastawaygroup.com, which states that, “According to Edward Humes, author of the book “Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash,” the energy used to create and distribute junk mail in the US for one day could heat 250,000 homes.” That is a crazy amount of energy wasted. Out of the 146 billion pieces of mail delivered in the United States each year, 109 billion or around 64% of it is all junk mail! On top of that, 42% of junk mail that is sent to the landfill is unopened. To create all that mail, there are an estimated 100 million trees cut down each year to support the junk mail epidemic. The pollution created by all this mail is equivalent to 9 million cars worth of greenhouse gasses a year. It’s astonishing the amount of waste created by this one industry. I don’t hear any politicians or mainstream media outlets speaking about this is ludicrous waste. This junk mail epidemic is a problem we as a country could tackle and solve.