Stamp Out Climate Change with the US Postal Service

Somewhere in the boxes of stuff that I have stored in my parents garage in Maryland, I have some stamp collections. I love stamp art. My favorite of all time was a tribute to the American artist, Georgia O'Keeffe. The repeating pattern of her painting of a red poppy, combined with her picture, is like a whole new piece of art. I loved it so much that I framed a set of these stamps. I'm now pleased to see that the United States Postal Service (USPS) has combined my love of stamp art with something else close to my heart: the environment. The USPS has announced that they are continuing their green efforts with a new series of Forever Stamps and eco-friendly mailing materials. Of course, the ultimate greening of the mail system would be to go completely paperless, unfortunately rendering stamps useless, but until then, it’s nice to see these 'Go Green' stamps with tips for living a more sustainable life.

A series of sixteen stamps feature unique ways to save water and energy and reduce your impact on the planet. The tips include activities as diverse as turning off the lights when not in use to buying local produce, fixing water leaks and using alternative forms of transportation. The designs were created by animator Eli Noyes, who has worked with Sesame Street and Eureka’s Castle and directed the animated environmental pilot Gorilla in the Greenhouse. Noyes says the original plan called for only four stamps but soon increased to sixteen because, “We realized that you can’t do only four things to help the environment. We can all do so much more than that.” The USPS is doing a lot more to green up their act than just producing stamps. They've been big on recycling for awhile and now they're working on reducing their carbon footprint. In fact, they've set a goal of reducing their greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020. They're also looking for ways to save water. From their website:

The Postal Service is the first federal agency to publicly report its greenhouse gas emissions, complete with third-party verification. Even though USPS is a huge organization that serves every street address in the nation, its “footprint” is only one-twentieth of one percent of total greenhouse emissions in the United States. With ongoing work to cut that number even further, fuel and water conservation efforts are underway at all levels of the Postal Service.

Let’s be honest, buying stamps with a message, turning off the lights or riding a bicycle are great activities, but without substantial changes from those with larger carbon footprints, these won’t solve the climate change crisis that we're already facing. We have to first acknowledge that climate change exists and then make serious changes at the regulatory level before we can begin ending this crisis. Nevertheless, the small steps depicted in the stamps can collectively add up to some pretty significant changes. When you start making connections between your every day actions and the changing climate it becomes clearer that we each have to make better choices, from what we buy and eat to how we get ourselves around to who we ask to run our country. Okay, that might be asking a lot of a little stamp, but I will definitely be incorporating these changes into my everyday life. I might even frame a set and hang them in my office. Now if they could just work on reducing the lines inside the Post Office and go completely green, that would really be something.


Noyes' designs are pretty cool. You can see a slideshow or download an animated screensaver featuring the stamp designs.

Learn more about saving water with the Water Footprint Calculator. Find local food in your area with the Eat Well Guide.