BOSTON (CBS) – It sometimes seems like the catalogs and junk mail never stop coming. They’re not just a nuisance. They’re also bad for the environment.
Ted Wells, a science teacher at the Park School in Brookline, said 19 billion catalogs are mailed out each year. That translates to 600 per second, which would create a 70-mile-high pile.
“That takes 50 million trees a year to create,” he added.
His science classes have now become ground zero for saying no to junk mail. They canceled 2,000 catalogs in one three-week period.
Students at the Park School, as part of a science project, enlist parents and neighbors to sign up at www.catalogchoice.org, a registry which cancels junk mail and phone books.
WBZ-TV’s Todd Gutner reports
Students like George Rowe like to participate.
“I want to help the environment,” Rowe explained.
The kids enter all the mailing data into the online registry. Participants have the choice of canceling all catalogs and junk mail, or just ones they know they won’t use.
Student Jamila O’Hara is happy to spend time entering all this information.
“I think it’s a really good project because you are helping the environment and at the same time, well, I think it’s kind of fun,” said O’Hara.
Even if you are responsible and recycle all those unwanted cataologs, there is still a lot of environmental damage just from creating them.
“A lot of trees have been cut down to make these and no one really uses them,” said student Pierce Haley.
Wells said “about 50 billion gallons of water and tremendous amounts of energy, therefore pollution” are other byproducts.
Cities and towns spend millions of dollars dealing with solid waste. Communities like Brookline and Cambridge have joined forces with www.catalogchoice.org to make it easier for residents to stop getting the junk mail in the first place.
“It’s not just the right thing to do from an environmental perspective,” said Brookline Selectwoman Jesse Mermell. “It can really help the town’s bottom line.”
Anyone can use www.catalogchoice.org regardless of where they live, and it is free. Wells said it’s easy to navigate their site.
“I think if kids can do it, most of us adults can do it,” Wells said.
So far, 3,500 people in Brookline and Cambridge have signed up since the program began earlier this fall.
The kids at the Park School estimate they have saved 65 trees.