Paper Trail --A National Postage Savings Act will help our environment.
Thursday, March 18, 1999
A few years ago, the Postage Savings Act passed unanimously in Monterey County. Then-Supervisor Sam Karas introduced the act to the Board of Supervisors on April 26, 1994. Hundreds of Monterey County residents signed petitions and wrote letters. County supervisors listened to their voices.
The official estimate was that $9,000 per year would be saved. All the savings would be used to help the environment, to go towards recycling paper, and to investigate tree-free paper alternatives.
Millions of dollars could be saved nationwide if the Postage Savings Act is adopted on the state and federal levels. This act can make a big difference in helping the environment.
The act requires the government to print documents on both sides of the page, to use third-class mail when possible, and to look into the use of thinner paper for mass mailings.
In Monterey County, it was discovered that first- and third-class mail had comparable delivery times, so using first-class mail was unnecessary. Likewise, there are other parts of the country where it isn''t necessary at all. When you''re mailing something a short distance, there is little or no difference in delivery time.
The Monterey County act is a good example of reducing paper waste. Unfortunately, it hasn''t caught on. The state and federal governments continue to spend much money unnecessarily on postage. For example, thousands of copies of the Yosemite Valley plan recently have been sent out. A copy was sent to me by first-class mail. For a fraction of the cost, it could have been sent "book rate."
First-class mail is often not required for packages. Immediate delivery isn''t always necessary. And printing on one side of the paper is a wasteful practice done by government, businesses, lawyers, "environmentalists," and many others. For example, have you noticed how our representatives often send out letters printed on one side only, and use envelopes with non-recyclable plastic windows, helping to mess up the recycling process?
Government documents of great public interest should be sent to libraries, and people encouraged to look at them there. Persons owning computers should be encouraged to get these documents off the Internet.
All over the country, governments can adopt these practices. The Postage Savings Act needs to be passed on all levels.
If passed, it will be a great boost to our economy. Recycled paper and tree-free paper manufacturing industries will grow dramatically. Kenaf, an amazing plant which grows so quickly that one acre produces four times the fiber of an acre of Southern White Pine trees, can become the source for paper in the future with government assistance. Eventually, Kenaf paper will be cheaper to produce than tree-based paper (it recycles well, too). Trees will no longer be cut down for paper, and wood chips can be left in the forest as mulch to keep the soil healthy.
The Postage Savings Act will inspire Americans to reduce not only their paper waste, but other kinds of waste as well. For example, one-third of the food in this country is thrown away while people are starving elsewhere (just go to a salad bar and witness all the food left on plates.) How much good Americans could do if they would just use resources more wisely; how much money could be freed for worthy causes.
Our government needs to be a good example for the people to follow. I''m asking Sam Farr, Fred Keeley, and Barbara Boxer if they''d like to introduce this legislation.
Bryan Rosen is a local environmental activist.