Wednesday, March 31, 2010

CURB THE JUNK MAIL WASTE STREAM TO YOUR HOME

For as long as I can recall I have hated junk mail. Credit card offers, coupons, catalogs, insurance, grocery ads, or just anything I did not solicit on my own. I have no problem of being informed from time to time about a product, service I have shown an interest in----or a worthy cause I have supported. However, in recent years, the stream of unwanted mail that goes above and beyond the occasional update, has seemed to escalate to the point it has undermined any effort I took over the years to curb its flow.

I used to call every sender of junk mail that I would have never solicited and requested that I be removed from their lists---and---EVEN tried to create a mailbox that would only allow for standard sized envelopes to be delivered. That worked for a little while until the carrier started leaving junk mail elsewhere. Most recently, I wanted to take a stand to curb excessive junk mail once and for all when I discovered a whole new heap of it in my mailbox from sources I could not possibly trace to any purchase I made or submission of personal information. No matter how hard I tried to connect the dots as to how this mail could have found me, I could not. Maybe there is someone out there who does not like me and thought it cute to give my name to a supplier of urinary health and control products for the elderly, as well as a manufacturer of an electronic cigarette! Who knows?

How ever this mail must have reached me, it was either going to be recycled, burned or pitched as I have always done--and to be truthful, these are tasks I wish to not have levied upon me by a relentless direct mail marketing industry, or our very own post office management which must seem to feel it is ok for the public to serve as their dumping grounds. I called the post office and spoke with the manager on how to best deal with the new wave of junk mail assault. I was given a few numbers to call for those “do not mail” services that are supposed to stop the flow, (I have already tried this in the past and have had marginal success) but after the manager offered what she must have thought to be helpful tips, I had to wonder about their interest to curb it at all when she then tells me how much they depend on the delivery of junk mail these days to keep the US Postal Service functioning!

The manager insisted their funding from the government has reached an all time low. I immediately thought that if they would find a way to stop being the sole conduit for mass mailing from advertisers, perhaps they’d save quite a bit of operating cash that goes out to simply deliver unsolicited mail which most, the moment it is received, ends up in the trash can! I also had to wonder just when has the sole purpose of the US Postal Service become about serving the needs of advertisers sending unsolicited mail?

Sure, I can understand mail order business being of value to them due to the growth in internet usage which has all but eliminated anyone ever sending a real letter anymore---But I am not talking about the USPS serving the needs of customers who have ordered products/goods/services through mail; rather, I am talking about downright plain and simple unsolicited mail. I have little pity for the struggles of the USPS if in fact, their main function and source of revenue now depends upon them sending people garbage they don’t need or never asked for!

Because of all this, I have read a lot of the latest information about how to curb the junk mail. What was so illuminating to me was being reminded of the staggering and alarming waste of natural resources that goes into this whole direct mail marketing industry from the forest that produced the trees that supplied the paper, to the journey to the landfill where most of it still goes, and all the oil used throughout the production, delivery and disposal processes.

Even if some of the junk mail is recycled, such a process still consumes energy that did not have to be wasted in the first place. So, again, if delivering junk mail is the main source of sustenance for our postal service, perhaps they need to find a new sustainable and productive function in this day and age. Think about it: From life giving forest….to paper….to junk mail….to delivery…..to garbage can…to landfill! What a futile waste of natural resources. The act, in my opinion is about as productive as bailing water out of a boat with a bucket full of holes!

The postal manger I spoke to basically justified the junk mail delivery for the sake of job preservation and her "just throw it away" attitude was a sad testament to the wasteful attitudes pervasive today. Her comments reminded me of the sentiment of the whalers of the 1800’s how they justified the endless slaughter of whales in the name of preserving the whale oil/product industry. The only difference is that we slaughter forests as the living entity. The old “destroy much to save little” ideology! (The end of the hey day of whaling didn’t give way to any kinder of an industry, but that is another story!)To top it all, the manager added that any junk mail returned or left behind is NOT recycled by USPS! The question I left her with was simple: Do you really think this is a wise use of limited resources? Well, if she didn’t think of today, maybe she will think of tomorrow and her children.

Finally, I want to take this time to pass along helpful websites that I have discovered to be very helpful in curbing the stream of waste and environmental destruction caused by junk mail. Here they are:

1. STOP THE JUNK MAIL MONSTER: http://www.ecocycle.org/junkmail/index.cfm#step7

2. 41 POUNDS DOT ORG: http://www.41pounds.org/

3. DIRECT MARKETING ASSOCIATION: https://www.dmachoice.org/dma/member/home.action

(Oh, by the way, here is a little tip too…. Just save all your junk mail in a box, black out your address on all articles….then send it back to the post office or the last or most frequent mailer of junk mail with a note that states: “YOU ARE THE WINNER OF THIS MONTH’S JUNK MAIL AWARD!”…. No, just kidding... seriously, don’t try that at home folks!)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

CLEVELAND IS NOT AN ASHTRAY?--A PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT!





The top photo was taken at Edgewater Beach near downtown Cleveland. This condition has existed for a long time now and appears to be getting worse. Obviously many residents and city leadership think this condition is acceptable, or are not thinking about it at all. The photo below is of a public service announcement recently displayed in The Sydney Morning Herald, in Sydney, Australia.

Obviously the problem there was enough to warrant needed attention---and truth be told, for a metro area of over 5 million, their 100's of miles of local beaches are virtually litter free, in contrast to just 50 yards of beach that cannot even be maintained properly at Cleveland's Edgewater Park. I think this is a pitiful testament to the lack of regard for the environment these days. Sure, all the "going green" and "sustainability" propaganda suggests otherwise, but pictures speak a thousand words.

I think our city should employ the same public service promotion as Sydney--as the message for cigarette butt litter ALONE desperately needs to be sent here. DCA could maybe consider making this a part of any downtown signage themes in which they're involved, like the "Change Where It Counts" and "Junk-In-The-Trunk" campaigns. Afterall, if we can say something about junk-in-the-trunk we can surely say something about litter on the streets in making for a safer; more sustainable, desirable, and healthy city.

It is alarming to realize that to many, seeing cigarette butts or black and mild tips laying all over is perfectly acceptable---or that there is nothing we can do about it. It looks as though Sydney, Australia, on the other hand, IS trying to do something about it and maybe Cleveland can learn something from such an example. Maybe such a message will help to seed the beginnings of fostering a new populace, many of whom just might learn learn why tossing butts on the ground is unacceptable.


photo sources: Sydney Morning Herald/Christopher Hubbard

Monday, March 15, 2010

IPOD-itis---A New Social Disease Common On Public Transportation

Do you ride public transportation and enjoy the opportunity it offers to read a book, newspaper, have a moment of thought or a cup of coffee whilst watching the world pass by through the window? This is one of many benefits I enjoy about public transportation, however, there is one relatively new social disease that appears to be running rampant on trains and buses that threatens this one little fleeting opportunity during the day to enjoy a bit of reasonable solace.

The disease, "IPOD-itis", is especially prevalent in people ages 18 to 30 and basically demonstrates symptoms of a self indulgent nature of an insatiable need to fill one's ear canals with some sort of sound---and never being able to go a moment without the device we call "ipods" dangling from their ears! The addiction is strong and the individuals who have the disease are so used to hearing some kind of sound that the moment the plug is pulled, they go through withdraw symptoms that seemingly have the sound of silence become intolerable.

Not only does the individual who engages in the ipod habit threaten their own hearing, the volume is often so loud that you can hear it from the other end of the bus or train, thus offending other people around the affected person. I try and be understanding to this sickness and think that just maybe, they are trying to cover up sounds they don't want to hear, and while this is understandable, I have to ask....What about the rest of us who are forced to hear what they are hearing? This is where I have to draw the line because the right to fill the ear canals with sound, stops at where my ears begin.

Oh, I must apologize for calling it "sound" or "noise" but the reality is that for those who did not ask to hear this "music", such really does become NOISE---and noise by definition is simply "unwanted sound" The need to have the device so loud in the first place is likely a testament of the fact that those infected with ipoditis, have already damaged their hearing, so the need to bump up the volume a few more notches is likely necessary. I better invest in the hearing aid market in the future because I'm sure to make a boat load of cash.


It would be nice if users of ipods on public transportation would exercise the common sense and courtesy to indulge in this activity at a level that respects others, but common sense is not so common anymore, and the more some people's ears are continually plugged up with acoustic sewage, the more numbed down their brains will become, and the number the mind, the less likely it is that these individuals will be able to exercise the critical thinking skills necessary to understand why it is inappropriate to force everyone else to engage in their addiction to ipods.

Is there a cure for ipoditis? Well, I guess the answer to that question depends on whether those infected with the disease will ever take the time to discover other things to get excited about in life. In the meanwhile, the disease seems to be getting worse---and is contagious as we witness the symptoms and continue to see ipods growing like cysts or tumors from the ears, necks and chests of the ill. I wonder in dollars and sense what kind of costs ipoditis will levy on society when we sire a growing generation of hearing impaired by the time one is 20! Hmmmm..... it does make one wonder.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

New Film Documents Invasive Threats To Great Lakes

If anyone has ever thought zebra muscles were somehow a benefactor to Lake Erie by buying into the common misconception that "they cleaned-up the lake".... nothing could be farther from the truth.... Check out this great new video available on the following website "Green Planet Films" (also a clip) entitled: "Lake Invaders: The Fight for Lake Huron" The same threats are posed for lake Erie. The website also contains many other great environmental film documentaries seldom seen on television or available in stores.

http://greenplanetfilms.org/product_info.php?products_id=698