Can ‘Green’ Save the U.S. Postal Service? Probably Not 4

By Ben

The New York Times reports that the U.S. Postal Service is encouraging people and businesses to keep the environment in mind when mailing documents and packages. They’ve even trademarked the term environMAIList. How much is this green initiative just one last attempt to survive?

Twenty years ago almost everything came was delivered by a post office employee – from magazines, bills, letters, business documents, and of course, credit card advertisements. Today, it seems like we’re just stuck with the credit card advertisements.

Email and the internet have dramatically changed the way we receive mail and news. Newspapers are a whole other issue – but the amount of people having them delivered to their doorstop has completely changed as well. But what has happened over the past 20 years?

The days when you would send a friend a letter, postcard, or other kind of note to say hi are long gone. This week’s delay of correspondence has turned into email, IM, text messages, and social networks like Facebook. After all, why send a postcard in the mail when you can just post all of your vacation pictures on Facebook with captions underneath, and a nice message saying that you’re having a great time?

The content from magazines has all been put online, and bills/payments have all become automatic withdrawals or are done through online banking. Email has completely changed business as well, as anyone would be hard pressed to find someone who uses mail as a first, second, or even third option for business communication.

So how will this green effort help the U.S. Postal Service? Probably very little, if at all. The mail business isn’t falling behind because of the environment, but because technology, innovation, and the internet have dramatically changed the way we go about communicating.

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4 thoughts on “Can ‘Green’ Save the U.S. Postal Service? Probably Not

  • Jon Westenberg

    If the US Postal Service goes under, (I’m not American here, so bear with me) what kind of effect would that have over all?
    Obviously it must be taking in farely minimal profits, but how do you think the loss of part of US culture and tradition would be seen by the press?
    Just interested.

  • Ben Haber Post author

    @Jon Westenberg – That’s an interesting angle to take. My personal guess is that people wouldn’t even know it’d be gone – but it would still be HUGE news.

    The classic Seinfeld quote is “Just remember, when you control the mail, you control… information.” Well, that’s not true anymore. Most of our information is online or on mobile devices, so when people no longer receive that information via the mail, then they forget about it. However, since it’s a staple of communication going way back – and stamps are still meaningful – I think the media would make it out to be a pretty big deal.