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Three U.S. Cities Switch to Paperless Mail

Three U.S. Cities Switch to Paperless Mail

First established by Benjamin Franklin in 1775, by decree of the Second Continental Congress, the United States Postal Service is one of the oldest institutions in America. However, the city governments of San Francisco, Newark and New York recently signed on to provide paperless municipal mail through Zumbox instead of using the postal service.

Since the advent of email, mobile texting and other forms of digital communication, use of “snail mail” has become slightly inefficient and wasteful.

To produce and process 4 million tons of junk mail a year, 100 million trees are destroyed and 28 billion gallons of water is wasted. Also, $320 million of local taxes are spent to dispose of junk mail each year instead of providing parks, libraries, health care and other valuable services (41pounds.org).

In addition, municipal mail accounts for a staggering amount of postal transactions. In New York City alone, 15 million pieces of mail from the City are sent out on a typical day (MNN.com).

As a solution, some have pointed to paperless mail options like California-based Zumbox, which replaces your physical mailbox with an official inbox for your residence’s address.

From the official website: “Zumbox is the world’s first and only paperless postal system. The company has created a web-based platform for the delivery of paperless mail. For every U.S. street address, there is a corresponding digital mailbox – a Zumbox – enabling mail and other content to be sent as digital files and received online with no paper, printing or postage, and no scanning. Zumbox represents a more cost-effective and environmentally responsible way to send postal mail.”

Supporters of this decision in each of the three cities hope that citizens will now have a chance to experiment with the Zumbox software and discover how easy and secure it is to use. Eventually, advertisers may also switch to this type of service, which can offer precise geo-targeting and analytics for marketing while stil drastically reducing the need for paper and postage.

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23 comments

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11:21PM PDT on Jun 7, 2013

Thank you for info.

11:20PM PDT on Jun 7, 2013

Thank you for info.

11:19PM PDT on Jun 7, 2013

Thank you for info.

11:19PM PDT on Jun 7, 2013

Thank you for info.

2:17AM PST on Jan 23, 2012

Interesting, thank you.

8:08AM PDT on Sep 28, 2011

I can print my mail only when needed.

8:06AM PDT on Sep 28, 2011

Credit cards encourage holders to receive their bills via internet saving on paper.

4:22PM PDT on Oct 8, 2009

Just a few points of clarification: No one is being forced to use Zumbox. It's a choice by everyone. If you don't have a computer, continue to get paper mail as you do. You could even get both paper and paperless in parallel. That is your choice with Zumbox. In which case you wouldn't have to be home to get your mail. You can access from any computer.

With regard to USPS jobs, Zumbox is not going to eliminate the need for the USPS any more than FedEx did. Zumbox is a digital alternative...not a replacement. There is no way to replicate a hand-written letter on personal stationery. That said, the USPS must become more efficient regardless of the presence of Zumbox, online billing, and e-mail for that matter. All of these electronic mediums put pressure on the USPS.

Zumbox provides bank-level security and privacy. If you are comfortable with online banking, you'll be comfortable with Zumbox. If not, then it's your choice not to use the service.

The bottom line is that Zumbox can significantly reduce the environmental impact and waste of needlessly sending paper mail to those who do have computers and who are comfortable with online banking. 150 million trees per year are consumed by USPS mail. Paperless mail can mitigate some of that.

5:30AM PDT on Oct 8, 2009

I work in retail and find there are people who don't have home computers (or computers at all)only work computers, so they need their ads by "snail mail".The print up ads to people get people into the the stores to buy products.These products woul not be seen by those people who don't have computers. It is a vicious cycle.




3:18PM PDT on Oct 6, 2009

I agree that it would be a problem with those without computers and those that will end up without jobs. I too have had some problems with on-line payment but there are alternative ways to pay on-line other than you own banking info. I would love to see a system that would differentiate between advertisements and magazines vs card and letters (I like them too MT). I get all newsletters, magazines, etc on line anyway and use my junk mail (when possible) for scrap paper for grocery lists, reminders to self, etc. Fred, you do have a valid point too with all the spam, etc. that is already out there.......it would be interesting to try though!

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