Towards a greener planet

Back in 2007, we opened a forum thread where many of you shared greats tips of how to make Postcrossing a greener hobby: from preferring recycled paper postcards, to using refillable pens, to walking/biking to the post office — loads of simple but real practical tips that anyone can follow.

Over the years, our impact on the environment has become a bigger concern for us too and we started making changes where we could. We have since switched Postcrossing’s servers to a carbon-neutral datacenter, started contributing to environmental causes every year and even planted a Postcrossing’s tiny forest with the help of some brave postcrossers :muscle:, on a very special kind of meetup. You can learn more about all this on our Towards a greener planet page.


(This lovely image was done for us by postcrosser nofrodelius — isn’t it cool?)

There’s still work to be done though and with this new forum, we don’t want this topic to be lost. We want to make sure there’s a place for this to continue to be talked about and where more tips can be shared between postcrossers.

Hence, below are some of the tips we have collected over the years.

  • Choose postcards made of recycled paper or postcards made with fibre from sustainable forests. For instance, FSC certified paper.
  • Walk, or ride your bike to take your mail to the post office or postbox.
  • Where available, consider buying postage that offsets the carbon emissions of delivering your mail.
  • When sending your postcards, avoid using envelopes. If you must use them, try to reuse old envelopes (it can be fun!), or prefer those made from recycled paper.
  • Use refillable pens, highlighters, etc.
  • Print on both sides of the paper or reuse old sheets to print things for personal use.
  • When wrapping objects, reuse gift paper. Be creative! You can use old maps, newspapers, pages from magazines, etc.
  • Where possible, get your electricity from a company that provides it from sustainable energy sources such as wind farms, solar panels or hydropower.
  • Support an environmental organization.

If you think of others, please feel free to add to them by leaving a comment too. And/or share with others which ones you usually do (or why not).

And to help getting the discussion started, a question: does your postal operator sell postage stamps that offsets carbon emissions? If so, how does it compare with the regular postage prices?

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There is no such option. Deutsche Post / DHL plans to send everything climate neutral from 2050 on. They’re constantly working on this afaik. You may pay an extra charge for parcels abroad for an offset to carbon emissions.

(only in German, sorry)


I have another point for your bullett list: when I last got some postcards (World Postcard Day) printed I paid a little extra fee, for a CO2 neutral production.

If possible, opt to send your card via surface mail rather than airmail. (It’s cheaper anyway!)

3 years ago Indonesia Post Office and Ministry of Environment and Forestry issued the stamp “Tanam 25 Pohon Selama Hidup” (Plan 25 trees during your lifetime) to increase awareness to the environment. The slogan “Tanam 25 Pohon Selama Hidup” is an invitation to all people to plant at least 25 trees during their lifetime as a form of gratitude to nature.

Here are the stamps

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Not postcrossing related, but as far as I know the two best things you can do for the environment are eat less meat, and support environmental legislation (such as the Green New Deal in the US to transition away from carbon based energy sources). Small individual changes don’t make much of a dent when industrial meat production and big corporations are the sources of the vast majority of emissions.

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As far as I know, in Portugal the closest to postage that offsets carbon emissions is what is called “Correio Verde” (literally, green mail): it’s not a stamp, but pre-paid envelopes/small boxes that come in various sizes that you can buy and then post at any time without adding stamps to it (up to a certain weight).

Their website says that the envelopes/boxes are made with recycled paper and environmentally friendly inks (I assume non-toxic) and, to help offset the carbon emissions, they contribute to environmental and social projects.

The smallest of their envelopes is 110x220mm which is quite large (I assume it’s focused on documents) and it costs 0,95€ for domestic mail. For comparison, a domestic letter/postcard is 0,53€ (regular) and 0,68€ (priority). Correio Verde is as fast as priority, so it’s about 40% higher.

It’s not something that can be used in the context of sending postcards and maybe less practical if one likes to customise/decorate the packaging, but it’s good that there’s an option for other types of mail.

Here in Finland Posti says it has been carbon-neutral since 2011, but they plan to cut all their emissions by 2030.

https://www.posti.com/en/sustainability-old/environmental-responsibility/posti-green-services/#_ga=2.135084657.1192297064.1604462439-933423423.1598459234

https://www.posti.com/en/sustainability/environment/toward-emission-free-deliveries/#_ga=2.164958847.1192297064.1604462439-933423423.1598459234

We had a green post - stamp in 2010 (with extra 5 cent fee to compensate the carbon emissions) and in 2019 we had a possibility to use a compensation sticker worth 5 cents. (There were some unclarities with the organisation offering compensations, so Posti ceased the co-operation).

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A carbon-neutral postal operator is quite impressive, specially since 2011! And that they are now aiming for zero emissions is commendable too.

I wonder however how that applies in the context of international mail since they are not the ones delivering it and, thus, not in control of the emissions to deliver that mail, even if technically they are paying (the other operators) for that delivery. As with anything in this area, it gets complicated real fast.

In my opinion the steps necessary to curb or reduce “climate change” will require much more than choosing a carbon neutral data center…My state California just banned gas powered cars by 2035 a mere 15 years from now…considering only 2-3% of cars in the US are battery powered a drastic change will be required in a short period of time…

Will Californians go along with this new mandate, I doubt it…

You see the necessary steps will require a drastic change in “quality of life”…

Who here are willing to rely on solar/wind exclusively for energy much less a world wide transportation system up ended (no aircraft etc) to become “green”…and what of nations that produce massive amounts of green house gasses (China/India)will they go along??? And if not how much of a difference will it make if its not a world wide effort…

It doesn’t necessarily need to be home production to use renewable energy sources (although it’s great if one can do it!). Our home electricity provider provides power from 100% renewable sources only: mostly from wind, some from solar, sometimes hydro — the exact mix varies and comes on the monthly invoice. It’s not particularly more expensive than other providers and as there’s an increasing demand for this, most providers are now offering the option.

How this is done and accounted for is complicated (after all, it call comes from the same cable right?) — it includes audits and certification processes and what not and I honestly don’t know the details. But as a consumer, it’s quite a simple option to choose from. At least it is here — I wonder how common this is in other countries?