It is important not to anger postal employees, as we all know. However, given the risks involved, I still feel it necessary to voice my support for cutting Saturday delivery of the mail. One reason: it would cut as much as 503,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year.
That’s according to the United States Postal Service, which provided the data as part of its pitch to switch to five day delivery. All told, cutting Saturdays could reduce USPS’s emissions up to 5 percent, by 2007 figures, according to the Environmental Leader.
The main impetus for the proposed cut is cost, however: the USPS is facing cumulative losses of $238 billion by 2020 due to a steady drop in the amount of snail mail sent. Mail volume fell from 213 billion pieces sent in 2007 to 177 billion in 2009 and is projected to fall to 150 billion by the end of the decade.
Ending Saturday delivery would cut an estimated 40,000 postal jobs. Naturally, the post office employees’ union is opposed. But an astonishing 71 percent of Americans are in favor of the measure, according to a recent Washington Post-ABC News Poll. However, 64 percent are opposed to closing post offices. That should be no surprise to anyone who has had to visit one recently: if those lines get any longer, I’m goin’ you-know-what.
In fact, as electronic communication becomes more ubiquitous, many people’s sole contact with the postal service is waiting in line to do something you can’t do via computer, like send a package.
USPS on the route to sustainability?
In November the USPS issued its first sustainability report, and has recently contracted the Eaton Corporation for energy efficiency improvements on USPS plants in several states. Energy use at the USPS declined 9 percent from 2005 to 2008.
It seems likely, given the declining popularity of sending an old-fashioned letter, that the USPS sustainability reports will continue to post energy efficiency improvements well into the future.