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Going “Green” At the Post Office

Many readers recycle discarded items in their home. The Postal Service is now providing recycling with 5900 recycling bins across the country.

The Postal Service is getting greener.

With the addition of 1,844 recycling bins in Post Office lobbies, the total now stands at more than 5,900 nationwide.

The read, respond, recycle bins are designed to encourage PO Box customers to open their mail (read), take whatever action is necessary (respond) and simply place the rest of their mail into the bin (recycle). The recycling bins are locked with a key and the opening is slim – about the width of a news magazine.

Not only is this a convenient, environmentally responsible alternative for PO Box customers, but customers on mail delivery routes can stop by a participating Post Office and place their discarded mail, catalogs and advertisements into a read, respond, recycle bin as well.

Recycling helps divert paper waste from landfills, reducing the amount of virgin fiber from trees needed to produce more paper and eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from solid waste disposal.

This program has been thoroughly tested and presents no risk to mail security or customer privacy and does not effect postal operations or costs, according to USPS Sustainability Vice President Sam Pulcrano.

“The message today is simple. Mail is recyclable,” Pulcrano said.

It’s also smart.

In 2008, more than $12 million was generated by selling recyclables as raw materials, and diverting tons of wastepaper, cardboard, cans, plastics and other materials from landfills.

More Green Initiatives

Every year, the Postal Service purchases more than $200 million in products containing recycled content. Many of the containers used to deliver and process mail are made from recycled materials along with stamped envelopes, postcards and stamp booklets. Even the adhesive used on postage stamps is biodegradable.

And, the Postal Service is the only shipping company in the nation to achieve Cradle to Cradle Certification at the silver level from MBDC (McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry) for its Priority Mail and Express Mail packages and envelopes based on the environmental attributes of the materials used in the packaging.

Cradle to Cradle is a fundamental shift from designing products and systems based on the take-make-waste model of the last century — cradle to grave. Cradle to Cradle products and services are designed on patterns found in nature, eliminating the concept of waste entirely, and creating an abundance that is healthy and sustaining.

A complete list of participating Post Offices with read, respond, recycle bins can be found at, using the word “mail” in the search engine. The list is sorted by ZIP Code.

For more information on green initiatives and consumer products, check this website.

About the Author

Marilyn Jones has been a journalist for more than 30 years and is currently a freelance feature writer specializing in travel. Her articles have appeared in major newspapers including the BostonGlobe, Akron Beacon Journal and Chicago Sun-Times as well as regional travel magazines.

Visit her website at