I have this big pack of letters from my mom over the years. It is one of my most prized possessions.
Mail - real mail - was a time capsule of thoughts and emotions. Committed to paper, letters were carefully written reflections meant to be recalled, maybe even kept as remembrances, a record, a reflection of times gone by.
Not so much any more. I'm not whining, not harkening to the good old days. Just pointing out a way we have changed as a culture.
Today's "mail" is most advertisements and bills. As I was opening the stack of "mail" the other day, I noticed how the billers and advertisers try to get your attention. OPEN ME! READ ME! OR ELSE! was all over them.
Here are a few examples from just the last two weeks...
Just the word FREE is going to entice some mail openings. Here are a couple examples...
Who doesn't love a SPECIAL GIFT? You know you want to open it if there is a SPECIAL GIFT inside. Especially one from kids. Especially kids with cancer. The cartoon sort of pulls at the heart strings too. We have been getting these mailing labels for years.
Can't ever use them though, in case someone wanted a correct name on the return address. It's HEIDI. I wish I could get off their mailing list. It must cost money to send out this pack of incorrect mailing labels year after year. I love me some St. Jude's, but it isn't one of our causes.
Then there are the ones that demand an immediate response. It may feel as though someone, somewhere is actually waiting around for you to reply.
What would happen if I didn't OPEN IMMEDIATELY?! Would I get in trouble? That's a lot of pressure to open. NOW! It's similar to the one below...
Anything with the word URGENT in bold letters should get your attention.
But I have learned that if I let my subscription expire, they'll make me a far better offer than simply a renewal at the same price.
But check out how wrong they got the name. Do I really want a news magazine delivered to my house with such a dramatic name change? It's Tim O'Keefe and Heidi Mills. I am a liberated guy and I appreciate it that Heidi kept her maiden name and all, but morphing us into a single androgynous being? I am not yet that enlightened.
I love me some Amnesty International. They are one of our causes. But I don't vote for people I know nothing about.
They use the stress of DATED MATERIAL and an OFFICIAL BALLOT. If I don't hurry I'll miss the voting date. I checked the ballot. I knew nothing about anyone. I appreciate that they think my input is essential.
But I had nothing to contribute. It left me feeling a little hollow inside. SOMEONE will be elected without my input.
This one is easy.
Who wouldn't choose the 80,000 points over the 50,000 points? Duh!
On the next one, I feel like I'll get away with something if I order a magazine through these guys. I mean PROFESSIONAL USE ONLY? Imagine the deal I can get if I go ahead and pretend that I am a doctor or a lawyer and have a waiting room with patients! Did they mail it to me by mistake? Could I just go along with it and read my TIME magazine at the discounted WAITING ROOM/PROFESSIONAL USE rate? It's like they're daring me to commit fraud or something.
This next one is just so OFFICIAL looking. I mean if there is a penalty for private use, they must be legit. And important. And relevant. And serious.
Even the so-called stamp seems imperative.
Stars. An angry looking eagle. It just screams freedom. Justice. The American way!
Nope. Just junk.
We get so much junk mail that I thought it would be interesting to look up the stats.
Stop Junk Mail — a Personal Nuisance & Environmental Hazard
- Keep trees in the forest. More than 100 million trees are destroyed each year to produce junk mail. 42% of timber harvested nationwide becomes pulpwood for paper.
- Reduce global warming. The world’s temperate forests absorb 2 billion tons of carbon annually. Creating and shipping junk mail produces more greenhouse gas emissions than 9 million cars.
- Save water. About 28 billion gallons of water are wasted to produce and recycle junk each year.
- Save time. You waste about 70 hours a year dealing with junk mail.
Your Mailbox Today
- The pulp and paper industry is the single largest consumer of water used in industrial activities in developed countries, and it’s the third-largest industrial greenhouse gas emitter (after the chemical and steel industries).
- The average adult receives 41 pounds of junk mail each year. 44% goes to the landfill unopened.
- On average, we receive 16 pieces of junk mail a week, compared to only 1.5 personal letters.
- The majority of household waste consists of junk mail.
- 40% of the solid mass that makes up our landfills is paper and paperboard waste.
- Junk mail inks have high concentrations of heavy metals, making the paper difficult to recycle.
- $320 million of local taxes are used to dispose of junk mail each year.
- California’s state and local governments spend $500,000 a year collecting and disposing of AOL’s direct mail disks alone.
- Transporting junk mail costs $550 million a year.
- Lists of names and addresses used in bulk mailings reside in mass data-collection networks. Your name is typically worth 3 to 20 cents each time it is sold.
Definitely something to think about.