By Nima Kapadia

The Unitusps.gifed States Postal Service didn’t do it “Overnight” but it is taking steps to expressly reduce its carbon footprint by launching a “green” website. The website, which debuted June 2, helps consumers search for eco-friendly products and services, and offers tips for “greener” living. “We are very excited about our website,” said service spokeswoman Joanne Veto. “It lets consumers know there are simple options to become greener.”

For example:

  • Purchasing eco-friendly packages online can save trips to the post office. The USPS offers half a billion boxes and envelopes that are Cradle to Cradle certified, meaning they have demonstrated to a certification firm that they are recyclable, non-toxic and produced in environmentally friendly ways. Specifically for Express Mail and Priority Mail shipments, these packages save approximately 15,000 metric tons of carbon emissions each year, according to the USPS.
  • Purchasing stamps made from soy ink and non-toxic adhesives. These stamps often support nature and wildlife conservation efforts. Consumers also can purchase shipping labels online.

The USPS website directs customers to local recycling centers, provides advice on innovative ways to reuse boxes, and an online address verification system that customers can use to reduce unwanted mail.

“It is very important for consumers to “green” their mail,” said Veto. “We often forget that mail is recyclable. It can be mixed in easily with your old newspapers.”

Another popular feature of the website is an automated calculator that determines the amount of gas used each year getting to and from the post office. Consumers enter three pieces of information that include the miles per gallon (mpg) your vehicle can get, the number of times you visit the post office each month and its distance from your home.

The green web site is one of the many initiatives USPS is taking to become an environmentally conscious competitor. The Postal Service reports that it recycles more than a million tons of paper, plastic and other materials each year. USPS also has a “Mail Back” program that allows consumers to recycle small electronics such as PDAs, cell phones and inkjet cartridges in pre-paid envelopes.

“We know about the problems,” said Veto. “Now it’s time to focus on the solutions.”

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