Whether I’m biking on the forest trail or taking a walk in the woods, I’m always amazed at how mighty and impossibly tall these trees are. Some are older than me and will still exist even if I am gone. They always bring me to my awareness of how small I am in this universe! At the same time, it torments me every time I realize how much of these trees we have consumed in such a short time in the form of products, so much so that sometimes they go straight into the wastebasket. Yes, I am talking about paper. While softwoods used to make paper last between 100 and 700 years, hardwoods like eucalyptus are invaluable for medicinal purposes. This is what we consume in the form of paper, the paper that we crumple and throw away unconscionably. From oxygen to paper – our lives depend on these trees. Oxygen is something that is indispensable, while paper is a waste. So the question is: Are we willing to trade oxygen for paper?
"I do not want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic… and pretend the house is on fire." – Greta Thunberg
The next generation has taken to the streets to protest and demand immediate action on climate change. So what more do we need to panic? Instead of hoping someone else will do things for us, it’s time we made some simple but effective changes. A drop in the bucket still counts. While there is a lot of information out there about how to save paper, this blog article is not about providing additional information. Rather, this is a call to action. Yes, "Letzte Werbung," a Berlin-based organization, has taken the initiative to rid all of Germany of unnecessary paper advertising. So let’s join them in spreading awareness by educating ourselves, our children and our neighbors to say "No" to the advertising that lands in our mailboxes.
The founders of "Last Advertising
"Letzte Werbung" is a volunteer organization with a team of more than 20 employees* throughout Germany. They are currently divided into four groups to tackle the problem: Science& Communication, policy, sticker distribution and empowerment. Anyone who would like to volunteer for app development or spread awareness about this issue can contact us via vostel.de or contact the team directly via the website. The team started last year with vision and has already collected around 40.000 "no advertising" stickers" sent across Germany. While 76% of households do not want advertising in their mailbox, only 25% have used a No Ads sticker. Considering the extent to which our environment is polluted, it is crucial that these 76% also find a way to free themselves from unwanted advertising.
"Of the total paper consumption of the German households 7% amounts to the letter box advertisement."
Did you know that 2.8 million trees are cut down every year to get the wood needed for paper – the very trees that counteract the constant global warming? 17% of the wood used is obtained from virgin forests, the rest comes from specially managed commercial forests. Of the total paper consumption of German households, 7% is mailbox advertising. That equates to a total of 33 kilos per year for a household, or 1.11 million tons of paper across Germany. For these 1.11 million tons of ads, 1 million tons of CO2 are emitted and 14 billion liters of water are consumed. And all this for advertising that nobody wants anyway. Apart from that, these ads also leave behind 1 billion plastic bags per year, which is pretty enormous considering that 76% of the population doesn’t want these ads in the first place.
The logo of "Letzte Werbung
"Last advertising" is looking forward to changing this problem once and for all. Last year, founder Sebastian Sielmann and his team launched the campaign, and they created a wave of environmental awareness. This year, the "Last Advertising" with its campaign "Stop the plastic mail" on 18. June made a big leap to reach people nationwide and spread the word to bring about the change you want to see. The campaign is based on a court case initiated by a German lawyer. The latter sued Deutsche Post because he continued to find advertisements in his mailbox even after he had unsubscribed from "Einkauf Aktuell. And he won the case. If he can opt out of it, then everyone else should be able to as well.
"Although paper is recyclable and a lot of care goes into making paper, it doesn’t mean we have to use more than is necessary."
In addition to the stickers, "Last Ads" also provides a free app where you can report violations if you continue to have unwanted ads in your mailbox despite the sticker. They also started the campaign on 18. June "Stop the plastic mail" launched a website on which you can unsubscribe from the "Einkauf Aktuell" brochure. Many thanks to the 35.000 supporters who have already unsubscribed via the website. Not only have they helped prevent over 900 tons of plastic waste disposal per year, but they have also reduced CO2 emissions by approximately 1200 tons.
So let’s step it up a notch – not just for us, but let’s also be responsible for future generations who deserve to live healthy, happy and nourished lives. Although paper is recyclable and a lot of care is invested in paper production, this does not mean that we have to use more than is necessary. In addition it is time. It’s time to respond; it’s time to reciprocate; it’s time to preserve.
P.S. You can support the cause by putting the "No Advertising" sticker on your mailbox or unsubscribing from Einkauf Aktuell. In addition, you can find all the volunteering opportunities of "Last commercial" on vostel.
Tall and mighty they stand, as I crane my neck up to see the crown of those mammoth skyscrapers that these trees are.
Stretching its branches of densely patched leaves, it never failed to provide food, shelter, and air to the many birds, insects, and humans that came in its vicinity.
Wrinkles on its outer bark were a mark, that they are older than any number of well-preserved monuments out there.
Sturdy trunks sang the history of how strong and long they stood to witness many generations of lives before us.
Winds that blew narrated the hymns of the throbbing life within these trees, that will nourish many generations to come.
Standing amidst that calming forest, I could not help but ache in pain for the human threats that these forests face.
For the speck that I am,
For a life such as mine, which is nothing more than a blip in a radar, how much of trees do I consume that I am unaware of??"
Madhu Priya Murugan
Madhu (29 from Cologne), a software developer and inquisitive by nature, regularly reflects on her life on her blog and Instagram. She also likes to paint, read books and delve deeply into the mysteries of life.