Giving our postal service a makeover is overdue. Not only are post offices closing down (which serve a vital part of the community). But millions of red rubber bands are dropped each year, which cause harm to native wildlife. At least our stamps are not as expensive as some; Scandinavian stamps cost a lot more (posties have to cover a lot of snowy ground). And in Peru, posting a letter is so expensive (due to covering Amazon rainforest and Andes mountains), that many people just take the bus and deliver the letter in person!
- Don’t throw stamps away. If you leave a good clear 5mm border on them, small animal charities can earn £10 per 6,000 or so stamps, or up to £15 for foreign stamps. A good idea, if you work in an office and get through a lot of stamps (most also accept postcards and old coins, keys, locks & broken jewellery).
- Use your local post office (rather than the big bank) to deposit and take out money. Most offer this service, and it helps to keep them afloat.
- Articles for the Blind offers a free postal delivery service (including international).
- PubHub is a service run by local pubs that collects parcels if you are out, for £1. You then pick them up in the evening, and stop for a pint. This way you can order from local bookshops (instead of Amazon lockers).
- Plunkett Foundation has help on how to set up a community post office.
- Use positive dog training to teach canine friends not to attack the posties. Most dogs are safe, but some are very territorial, with some posties requiring medical treatment. They ask householders with dogs to ensure pooch is out of range when he or she arrives. Close off access and use a letterbox guard (so dogs can’t go for fingers that come through the letterbox). Or fit a secure mailbox, outside your property.
Rubber Bands Harm Wildlife
Royal Mail use almost 350 million rubber bands yearly, but they are a real bugbear when dropped for wildlife rescuers, who have to rescue tangled hedgehogs and other wildlife (ducks even try to eat them, thinking they are worms – some even feed them to chicks). If you see any, pick them up and securely bin (or recycle them in offices). A Change petition got lots of signatures, but no change of policy. Posties can’t help dropping some, it’s up to Royal Mail to take action (rubber bands are also choking hazards for dogs, on walks).
One man even found one in his cat’s litter box, after his feline friend had eaten it. He wants Royal Mail to be fined £80 each time for littering – this would mean on present numbers they would have to pay £800,000 and force them to act. The best advice for now is to use email, and use alternative firms to send parcels. See how to stop (nearly all) junk mail (including unaddressed post from Royal Mail) and report postal litter to Fix My Street.
Alternatives to The Post Office
- Pedals (London) offers same-day delivery that is up to 50% cheaper, as legs on bikes have no petrol, insurance or road tax to pay for. And with average London traffic speed at 7.8mph, cyclists are up to 50% faster.
- Postmates (US) is a new app, a great idea. Local people earn around £10 an hour by walking or cycling deliveries from local indie shops and restaurants. So if a family did a ‘big shop’ at a farm shop (instead of a supermarket), you could earn money delivering it by foot or bike (or car, if a big order) to the family. The farm shop and you get income – and the family gets lower prices, while supporting local shops.
- Envelope Angel makes boxes of reusable labels, in a perforated dispenser. Instead of throwing away envelopes, stick these labels on and write the address, to use again. Or buy from charities like British Hedgehog Preservation Society, to support their work.
- If reusing envelopes, use plastic-free biodegradable tape to seal. This is water-and-solvent resistant, acid-free (for framing) and suitable for cold storage.
- For fragile items, use biodegradable bubble wrap. It may be fun popping plastic pops, but awful for the planet. You can also buy biodegradable packing peanuts.
- Lopees (Australia) are reusable envelopes made from organic cotton. They last years, and can be used for internal mail within offices, with zips & name labels, for security.
- InPost is the local shop alternative to Amazon lockers. Use them to use InPost Direct to send parcels (ideal for smaller traders like Etsy sellers).
Postal Services for Charities
- If you run a charity, don’t waste donations sending mailshots, most get binned. Focus on using the money to do good, and list at Local Giving (for a small fee, you can list on the high-traffic website and they handle all the financial & gift aid stuff).
- DropPoint offers reduced courier fees for charities and non-profits. It collects donated items from your home, and takes them to a local drop-off point.