EcoEnvelopes

Cellphone company Sprint recently announced that they would be transitioning from the traditional envelope to the patent-pending ecoEnvelope when it comes to billing their customers. The ecoEnvelope has is made out of sustainable materials include certified paper, inks and window films that have been manufactured with attention to how they impact on the environment. Formatted a lot like the Netflix DVD envelope, the ecoEnvelope, will also have an envelope for customers to send checks back to the company.

Now the first major cell phone company in the United States to make this change, Sprint announced that this transition would make paying bills easier, minimize mail costs, reduce paper use, and lowering environmental impact. The company stated:

The shift to ecoEnvelope was part of Sprint’s broader commitment to responsibly procure printing paper as reflected in its recently updated Paper & Print Procurement Policy. The policy highlights Sprint’s commitment to support sustainable forest management, work with environmentally and socially responsible suppliers, purchase paper with more recycled content, and optimize its paper use.

Sprint shares, courtesy of data from the Environmental Paper Network Paper Calculator, that the change in envelopes their company makes will save an estimated 447 tons of paper and $500,000 in operating costs in the first year. What does that mean? In terms of carbon dioxide, it is the equivalent of taking 244 cars off the road. With such significant benefits to the environment, one can only hope that other cell phone carriers (translation: competitors of Sprint) will follow suit and switch over to a greener envelope for billing their customers.

Related:   Kiri Tree: A reborn phoenix for devastated forests?

So how bad are traditional envelopes? According to data shared by Minnesota-based EcoEnvelopes, from data shared by the Center for Environmental Innovation, for every million EcoEnvelopes used 23 tons of wood are saved, 249 billion BTUs of energy are saved, 123,989 gallons of water is conserved, 14 pounds of hazardous pollutants are avoided and 36,986 pounds of greenhouse gases are avoided. It’s hard to argue against ecoEnvelopes with those staggering statistics.

While ecoEnvelopes are a great alternative for the traditional envelope, the real (and fastest) way to make a difference is to opt for online billing, which requires no paper whatsoever. After all, going paperless can save 150,939,615 pounds of paper (and, in turn, save 1,811,275 trees), prevent producing almost 2 million tons of greenhouse gases, avoid creating more than a billion gallons of waste-water during paper production and steer clear from using more than 100 million gallons of gas to mail payments.

Unfortunately, that day may not come any time soon: Forrester Research found that a mere 24 percent of bank customers have gone paperless and that more than a third of people surveyed claim they never will. Until that day comes when online billing becomes the accepted and trusted norm, this measure of green envelopes is most certainly the lesser of the two evils.

Susmita is a writer and editor in the Greater New York City area. In her spare time, Susmita enjoys cooking, traveling, dappling in photography, art history and interior design, and moonlighting as a therapist for her loved ones.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Cool article on ecoEnvelopes.

    Question: what’s your stance on snail mail? There’s a growing movement of people who are taking the time to write regular, handwritten letters instead of writing e-mails. Should we still go completely paperless in this sense?

    I know it’s a bit different for bills, since they’re pretty emotionless regardless of medium, but there really is something different about opening up a mailbox, taking out a letter from a far-away friends, and reading it in your hands.

    • Hey Elliot, great question. I think snail mail in the sense of writing hand-written letters – or at least sending hand-written cards – is a part of our culture we should still hold on to.

      That said, the majority of ‘snail mail’ being sent these days is junk mail, and it’s not only wasting paper, it’s causing the release of tons of greenhouse gases for the Postal Service to have to deliver it, and for waste services to dispose of it when it’s eventually thrown out.

      While receiving a handwritten letter is great, receiving junk mail in a ratio of 10:1 is definitely not.

      I say go paperless billing, register on DoNotMail.org to stop junk mail from being delivered to your address, and then enjoy writing or receiving handwritten letters as much as you want!

      • Ah, fair enough! All in moderation, I guess!

        Still, until our wireless/technologically-competent generation overtakes the older ones, I don’t see regular billing slowing down. It’s just… ‘easier’ for them.

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