The United States Postal Service is among the many outlets in the world touting their efforts to go green. In post office posters and on palm cards the trusty rain, sleet and snow guys are running a campaign to make citizens more aware of what the federal shippers are doing to be kind to the environment and reduce fuel use. Their Go Green campaign is the federal agency’s 2011 Social Awareness Action Project and its focused on conservation.
Often I’m pretty suspicious when I hear how someplace is “going green” because quite often, too often, they’re just talking smack, a bunch of green jargon without a lot to back it up. But I was genuinely impressed with what Posty is doing now, and what they’ve been doing for a while. As their website states they
- are the first federal agency to publicly report greenhouse gas emissions and get third party verification.
- have been using electric vehicles for over 100 years.
- are the first shipping company to achieve Cradle to Cradle Certification for packaging.
- have reduced their facility energy intensity more than 28% since 2003.
- deliver 1/3 of all mail on foot.
Not bad for an agency that’s the butt end of every bad government joke.
Put your stamp on it
Right now the USPS has a cool set of Go Green stamps out with conservation tips to help move the cultural mindset on energy use. The 16-pack Forever Stamps include tips that encourage you to line dry clothes, use public transportation, shop local, insulate your house, and lower your thermostat, among other practical ideas.
They’ve also got Go Green related schwag like post cards, in case you’ve got a hankering to help send the eco-message even more. The products are printed on Forest Stewardship Council paper, a big step forward in printing production.
Insularity breeds disease
Though the otherwise pro-greenish magazine Fast Company roundly dismissed the stamps as eco-pablum, calling the effort insipid and mocking thermostat reductions as doing nothing for anyone, I disagree. Their take reveals more about a kind of isolated high-tech insider think than it shows a pulse on the nation’s mindset.
We’re living in a society where folks routinely fly, drive Hummers, chuck electronics after a few months, regularly rely on grocery store plastic bags and guzzle colas by the 20 ounce plastic bottle with no consciousness and no change on the horizon. That signals to me that in spite of great gains in the LOHAS market, we’ve still got a long way to go before the US approaches anything like fundamental cultural change. Acting uppity about that is a poor choice for an influential business rag and frankly suggested to me that the writer failed to do enough research on the Post Office initiatives.
You’ve got to crawl before you can walk
If folks are still in need of the basics until something sticks it’s better to try to reach them where they are than to have a bunch of stamps touting eco-choices that are so far from the mainstream that no one would embrace them. Humanure anyone? I don’t think so. In-hill construction? Not much since Little House on the Prairie and not likely in Silicon Valley. Solar panels for everyone? Sure, with what money?
So the USPS isn’t perfect. But the perfect is the enemy of the good. The whole green thing has enough enemies in business. We need more allies, instead.
–Lindsay Curren, Lindsay’s List