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Did you get one of our mailings?

This page explains how we try to practice what we preach, even with our mailings.

That is, we make them not only environmentally neutral but environmentally positive. Learn how below:

Table of Contents

100% Recycled Paper

First, we selected Vistaprint. 95% of the paper they print on (by spend) has FSC certification -- the highest standard of responsible forestry. It's also recognized by the Rainforest Alliance:

"The Rainforest Alliance is a network of farmers, foresters, communities, scientists, governments, environmentalists, and businesses dedicated to conserving biodiversity and ensuring sustainable livelihoods.

They are an international non-profit organization working to build strong forests, healthy landscapes and thriving communities through creative, pragmatic collaboration.

The advice of Rainforest Alliance has been invaluable to us in developing and growing our responsible forestry program."

But we went a step further...

We selected 100% post-consumer recycled paper stock. This is paper that's already been used at least once and recycled into new paper.

This recycled paper cost us 44% more than the alternative paper.

Ten Trees Planted for Each Used

But we went a step further...

Technically, we're not using trees because the paper is 100% recycled. But still. We calculated how many trees were used originally.

According to this article in the Sierra Club's magazine, it takes about eight trees to produce 1,000 - 2,000 pounds of paper. That means one tree creates on average 187.5 pounds, or 85,048 grams, of paper.

One postcard weighs 6 grams, so a tree can create about 14,174 post cards. In order to "plant ten trees for each used" we need to plant a tree for -- let's round up -- every 1,500 postcards.

The USDA Forest Service will plant a conifer seedling for $1.

Because we plan to mail 55,000 postcards, this means we need to pay to plant 37 trees.

Carbon Neutral Mailing

And we went a step further yet...!

How much carbon is emitted by mail? PitneyBowes sponsored an excellent literature review:

"Based on these data, we found that the distribution of letter mail by the Posts generates, on average, about 20 grams of CO2 per letter delivered. In addition, a survey of more than a dozen studies shows that the indicative range of CO2 emissions associated with the upstream mail piece creation process is about 0.9 – 1.3 grams of CO2 per gram of paper."

So for a postcard weighing 6 grams, we can assume it creates 7.8 grams CO2 to create it (1.3 grams of CO2 * 6 grams of paper) and 20 grams to deliver it. The total per postcard is 27.8 grams. Let's roundup and say 30 grams CO2 per postcard.

Context is everything. The average American produces 15-20 tons per year. "The US paper industry accounts for about 2% of US CO2 emissions, and direct mail is estimated to account for 0.18% of US emissions... Each time a dishwasher is used, 1.04 kg CO2 are generated... [which is equivalent to about 30 pieces of mail].

Because we plan to mail 55,000 postcards, this means we need to offset 1650 kg CO2e, or 1.65 metric tonnes.

Funding Model

It costs about $9,500 to mail 55,000 postcards. This money was provided as a 0% interest loan from 34 different people on the Kiva platform. Kiva enables anyone to make 0% interest loans to mission drive entrepreneurs around the world.

Thank you to the investors from the CNI community:

And thank you to the investors from the larger Kiva community:

  • Tamar, a nurse in Seattle
  • Richard, a Professor in Canada
  • Jill, a veterinarian in Wisconsin
  • Aluna, a counselor in Florida
  • Kari, a nurse in Missouri
  • Trent in Washington DC
  • William in New York
  • Diane
  • Jordan
  • Jessica
  • Nisha
  • Martin
  • Alexander
  • Olena
  • Jon
  • A few anonymous people

Created by Alli Williams