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The carbon sequestration postage stamp: help me brainstorm it  RSS feed

 
Jesse Fister
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Hi Permies.

I am a city carrier for USPS in Missoula, MT.  I have a MA in Transpersonal Studies with an emphasis in Leadership and Conflict Transformation.  And I love permaculture!

Several weeks ago I had the opportunity to speak with the Post Master General (PMG), Megan Brennan, about a sustainability idea.  I said this:

"For United States Postal Employees concerned with falling revenues due to the decline of first class mail usage, my plan changes this trend by eliminating an important ethical conflict many people face when choosing between sending a paper letter and using email.  My solution is an optional carbon stamp, which allows anyone sending mail to sequester the carbon cost of their letter in the form of a living tree." (*This stamp might cost $0.01 or so more than other stamps)

Mrs. Brennan told me that her concern was in convincing congress to allow the post office to produce the stamp.  Apparently, USPS must have all price changes, even on optional stamps, approved by congress.  Only two stamps of this sort have ever succeeded: Breast Cancer Awareness and Endangered Animals.  I was put in contact with the office of the Deputy Postmaster General which oversees sustainability efforts of behalf of USPS.

I was surprised today when our office received a cold call from district headquarters for me in particular.  The District Manager wants to visit with me to discuss this.  We scheduled for Tuesday of next week (11/15/16). 

Now I'm in a crunch!

I haven't prepared myself to make this presentation and was hoping to do significantly more research before presenting it (e.g. read Priority One by Allen Yeomans, learn the carbon costs of the post office per letter, explore the story of the Pony Express riders and it's emotional significance to USPS saving the day once again!).

This is a big industry, an essential industry, with a significant footprint.  Carriers deliver to every house in the country almost every day of the year and most of us do not turn off our vehicles during the working day.  Furthermore, we are industry leaders and could influence competitors like FedEx and UPS to take on similar initiatives or even set a global precedent.

My idea came from Bill Mollison's gigantic: Permaculture, A Designers Manual.  Inside it says: "Each volume of this work carries a surcharge of $0.50 which will be paid by Tagari Publications to the Permaculture Institute.  The Institute (a public trust) holds the funds so generated in trust for tree-planting, and from time to time releases monies to selected groups who are active in permanent reafforestation.  In this way, both publisher and readers can have a clear conscience about the use of the paper in this volume, or in any book published by Tagari Publication.  Our trust funds are open to receive any such levy from other ethical publishers."

My motto for the campaign is: "Go Blue" for blue skies.  Empower people by letting them vote with their letter.  Show integrity as we solve the issues of today with regenerative solutions that work.

I need help guys.  Idea, resources, data, arguments - what have you got?  Give me your best, Permies!

Thanks you.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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I so like this idea! It's FAR better than the breast cancer awareness stamp (my thoughts on that are likely a Cider Press topic, so I'm not going to fully explain it here) and I think the carbon sequestration stamp is very closely related to the endangered species stamp so I think it has a great chance of becoming a reality.

Here are my thoughts and unresearched/noob questions:

  • I like the "Go Blue" theme
  • Could "carbon sequestration" be simplified? Something like "lower carbon" or "trees hold carbon" or "plant a tree" as a secondary explanation of the Go Blue theme.
  • Are the breast cancer and endangered species stamps both/also $0.01 / one penny more per each?
  • This does go along with the current Standing with Standing Rock trend that has gone global - not sure if you want to tie in to that movement here.
  • I like your recognition/aspect of this stamp as finding a way to resurrect flagging sales and use of snail mail.

  • Here's hoping other permies chime in to this! I've added it to other forums that seem like a fit. Good luck Jesse!


     
    Jocelyn Campbell
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    From the Wheaton Eco Scale, Paul reports that the average American (Western society?) household has a carbon footprint of 60 ton per year. Not sure the source for that, though in his further advocacy of rocket mass heaters, 40% of that footprint in northern climates is from heating - the equivalent of taking 7 cars off the road! I can't recall what percentage might be embedded (manufacturing, shipping, mining, sourcing) energy.

    All of this is to say that it is REALLY tough to change enough lifestyle habits to reduce one's carbon footprint. Hence the idea of a stamp that easily helps with that is all the more appealing.


     
    Thekla McDaniels
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    I like the idea, but I don't understand the specifics of it yet. 

    Is it that a stamp will be printed for 1st class mail that will cost a little more, and the extra revenue will be used to plant trees, all 100% of that extra money?  Why not ask for a nickel or dime more?  Those who would buy that stamp would likely be willing to spend a little more to feel like they are really accomplishing/contributing something!

    Could this money also go towards soil restoration work?  That might get more results faster, depending on where and accompanying climate and soil conditions, than planting trees.
     
    jennifer piddington
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    Make sure that you quote the successes of the other special stamps - breast cancer awareness and endangered species.
    What where the issues they faced and how did they overcome them.
    What are your perceived issues and how will you overcome them.
    How will you measure success.
    You're essentially creating a business plan. Maybe take a look at a business plan template so that you can focus your thoughts.

     
    John Thames
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    I think the idea is good and noble, but I feel its impact will be somewhat diminished. If I had the need to use a stamp I would use this stamp however I don't think I nor the population at large would send a letter instead of an email just for the sake of using this stamp. I would surmise most people send emails out of convince vs reducing their carbon foot print. If snail mail were net carbon negative many people would still use email since they can send "letters" and get replies before the mail carrier had picked up their first actual letter. And can do that dozens of people at a time.
    In short, it's a great idea but the post office is still relegated to sending packages and had lost out on sending letters.
     
    Balazs Dibuz
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    What a wonderful idea!

    I think many people would be more encouraged to send paper letters if they knew that a few cents would go to carbon sequestration, especially if they were somehow made aware of the fact that mail carriers already travel to every house, so there would be no added cost (and isn't in general) to delivering an actual letter now and then (to go with all those advert mailings we all wish we could get rid of).

    I think many would actually prefer to give more more per letter. Even 4 or 5 cents seems very reasonable to me.

    A name suggestion: "stamp out carbon"

    I don't have time to do the research for this now (building a geodome shelter to take to SR in a week), but I hope you can get ready in time for your meeting--As Bernie would say, this is huuuuge.

    all the best

    (As to the Standing Rock connection, even though I am an absolute supporter of the Water Protectors, I guarantee that there is no chance of connecting that movement to anything that is in any way related to the government--and may not have the desired results even if it was a possibility).
     
    Davin Hoyt
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    I don't like the idea of Carbon Taxes, and this idea would help public acceptance. (politics)

    What about a spray or fungal body applied to each piece of mail to help it recycle itself into our ecosystems no matter it's final resting place.?
     
    Susan Mullen
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    I like this idea!  Here's an alternative for discussion.  Rather than add a small amount to the price of a stamp, why not have a separate stamp?  I don't use a lot of stamps myself, but I usually end up buying a book of whatever "Forever" stamps are available.  It might be easier to also buy a book of the carbon stamps and add one to the letter or bill along with the regular stamp.  It would have higher visibility.
     
    Thekla McDaniels
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    just innoculate the stamp!

    though many soil food web people don't think it accomplishes much to import organisms

    as for the number of people who send email instead of snail, this could be one reason to send the snail mail,  and here is another thought: make this stamp available on an envelope and the envelope is either innoculated with fungi spores, or contains flower seeds, or has compost activator in/ on it, then the letter becomes a gift, used to innoculate the receivers compost pile, or plant lettuce or whatever in their garden, or get pulped and tossed into a vacant lot....

    sorry,
    maybe too elaborate for the PO, therefore, off topic, but a permie could do such a thing, sell packet of such envelopes, with or without the stamp... the season of wasted resources oh, I mean obligatory gift giving is almost upon us!  The envelopes and innoculated, or seed containing  cards that go inside them could be the gift, with  a donation to standing rock or soil carbon coalition or your choice in their name....
     
    Roberto pokachinni
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    I think it's a great idea.  Although I don't know that this will sway people from email to regular post, I do think the idea deserves merit.  The volume of letters that do go out that could be sequestered with this effort deserves the attention and direction you are giving it.  Legal documents, for instance, must be mailed as they have stamps and signatures which can not be faxed or emailed.   I agree that any branch of the government will not want to make a connection to Standing Rock with it's own direct action.   I wish I could offer some data to you.  Frustrating.  Does someone have Eric Toensmeier's contact info?   He might have valuable info.
     
    Steve Lansing
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    Jesse,
          First, congrats for getting the idea kicked off and heard by upper management. Second, mention permaculture and permies.com and the number of people you just reached. Politics watch numbers. Third, great idea. Two thoughts on the idea. If the primary colors is blue, make the bottom quarter green and place a tree dead center. That is simple and speakstraightforward of where paper comes from. I do have a second thought that makes the first obsolete. Instead of a stamp, which itself has paper and glue and chemicals in it, why not a true stamp. Just like mettered mail uses a bar code of sorts, why not a whole new stamp  that is only ink. You stamp the envelope or run it though your printer or whatever the best practice is and the stamp is a tree. Best of luck.
    Rich
     
    r ranson
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    The inoculation idea doesn't do it for me.  I love keeping letters and re-reading them at later years. 

    Actually, it's the whole tactile experience that makes me enjoy letters so much.  I love going to the post office and getting colourful stamps to put on them.  Writing the letter by hand using a fountain pen or typing it on a typewriter.  Choosing the paper careful to reflect my mood.  All the bad spelling mistakes.  It's personal and permanent at the same time.  A bit like how I envision permaculture. 

    I wonder, if we did the math right, I bet a hand written letter would come out with a lower carbon footprint than an email.  Especially if we take into account the end use of the product (computers and toxic waste vs a letter in the compost bin). 
     
    Erica Daly
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    Capture Carbon, Plant a Tree

    Trees soak up carbon naturally

    Lets breather better air,, Plant a Tree

    Carbon absorbing trees produce fruit and wood

    Planting a tree brings the birds and bees

    The greatest trees keep us cool!




     
    Thekla McDaniels
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    R Ranson wrote:The inoculation idea doesn't do it for me.  I love keeping letters and re-reading them at later years. 

    Actually, it's the whole tactile experience that makes me enjoy letters so much.  I love going to the post office and getting colourful stamps to put on them.  Writing the letter by hand using a fountain pen or typing it on a typewriter.  Choosing the paper careful to reflect my mood.  All the bad spelling mistakes.  It's personal and permanent at the same time.  A bit like how I envision permaculture. 

    I wonder, if we did the math right, I bet a hand written letter would come out with a lower carbon footprint than an email.  Especially if we take into account the end use of the product (computers and toxic waste vs a letter in the compost bin). 


    I'm with you R, on the comparative waste of email vs real mail.  I am years behind on my use of stamps.  I buy them because I like them and want to have them on hand, and do
    t use them as fast.  I also preferred the lick and stick to the peel off stamps.  Those  probably generate 3 times the waste and cost of production.  People who think licking is unsanitary or down right dangerous, could moisten with a dampened sponge.

    In addition, if I had my way those folks who send me bales of junk mail and advertising would have to pay the cradle to grave cost of all that paper.  I don't think "business " wastefulness needs to be subsidized by lower costs here and there and tax advantages.  I think if they paid real cost, everything would be a lot less wasteful.

     
    Roxanne Sterling-Falkenstein
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    I love this idea, a way to assure it's effectiveness might be to interest large companies that still use the mail regularly like Amazon or catalogs?  If you could get their kind of support this could really take off.  Making sure you include as part of procedure; soil protection/restoration, a project like this could do so much good.  In the west we have massive wildfires, perhaps each year a new focus could be presented, Restoring Deserts, Restoring Wildfire Zones, Restoring Coastal Wetlands... etc. 
    Watching this thread with great interest!
     
    Johanna Sol
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    In addition to the postage stamp, another idea to run by this person as long as you have their attention would be to introduce the concept of using neighborhood electric vehicles NEVs, or better yet ,electric trikes or bikes with trailers to deliver mail. Definitely the most cost effective and least energy intensive powered transportation on the planet...
     
    Thekla McDaniels
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    Jesse, how are we doing?  Are these the kinds of suggestions that will help you prepare your presentation?

    I had another idea.  I prefer the USPS because the trucks come to my house every day, and if someone sends me something by the white purple orange trucks or the brown trucks, it is a special trip.  If we could get some small amount added to the cost of the flat rate boxes (which I love, especially when I am shipping soap and other heavy things) to do the carbon offset and there could be an educational campaign so people realize there is a difference carbon footprint wise between the three carriers, maybe more people would ship USPS.  Which would be a good thing, wouldn't it?  Does the USPS break even on packages or is it only first class letters that will help the budget shortfall the USPS faces.

    Please educate me if you have the time. 
     
    Jesse Fister
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    Guys, this is a great discussion.

    I have a lot to say buy I'm running out of time and need a little help.

    First off, the Breast Cancer Awareness stamp.  Jocelyn, I'm sure our feelings are alike on this.  I found this:

    "The Breast Cancer Research semipostal stamp, originally issued in 1998, is being reissued in 2014. Mandated by Congress in 1997 and signed into law by President Bill Clinton, the 1998 Breast Cancer Research stamp was the first semipostal issued by the U.S. Postal Service®. Semipostals are stamps sold at a surcharge to raise money for a particular cause. Purchase of this stamp supports the Breast Cancer Research work of the National Institutes of Health and the Medical Research Program of the Department of Defense."  (Wikipedia)

    Breast Cancer Awareness and Endangered Animals are both $0.60 right now, a full $0.13 more than a standard forever stamp.  So yes, I believe one carbon stamp might have massively more potential than to sequester a single letter.  Good catch everybody!

    The 2012 Sustainability Report from USPS showed our annual CO2 emissions at 12.06 million metric tons equivalent.  I've begun research in Priority One to try and convert the number of inches of soil we would need to create to offset our carbon costs.  Or number of trees to plant.  Can anyone help me out? 

    Also, check out some of the other mind-boggling numbers on that website.  Also, our Carbon Footprint: GHG Emissions Report See additional pages I've attached from Priority One.

    As you can see, appearing "green" is a super-sensitive issue to big industries like the postal service.  It effects their public relations and revenues in enormous ways.  This is one of the reasons the PMG showed up in our office several weeks ago, to talk about the new postal vehicle "fleet".  USPS is currently bidding for alternative energy design vehicles to convert the entire fleet across the nation.  Mostly, that means hybrids, with the bug that we often operate our vehicles for six straight hours a day.  Trust me, these issues are on their minds!

    Pitching revenues seems like the best ice-breaker.  "Stamp out Carbon" is great, and it appears that seems to be exactly how Breast Cancer approached it (e.g. "Stamp out Cancer").  I'm also thinking of selling this on the idea of consumer psychology - rather than taking on the political debate, or even validity - of dealing with global warming.  Post Office employees are in the majority republican and most do not believe in global warming, but they can get behind a sound economical plan (that's how the demographic appears to me at any rate).

    I also see this being a potential for packages.  Why not have an option to pay a bit extra to carbon offset your package?  Amazon bids to the lowest bidder provided they provide 99% or better on delivery scans.  We hold that bid right now and it's where USPS is focusing on getting its biggest fiscal bump right now.

    First class mail use has been steadily declining for years.  I see a lot of letters go through with messages stamped on the outside of the envelope that say: "Go paperless!  Save Trees!" or "Go Green!  Get Bills Online!"  I'm sure everybody has seen this message somewhere.  Why?  Because it's good business to look green and it typically costs businesses less to not send you a paper invoice anyways.  That's all revenue we could re-acquire, and I agree that there's a strong argument to be made for paper mail being "greener" than electronic mail, especially with this stamp.

    If anyone can help me sort through these numbers for some juicy morsels of hot-cognition with regards to the funds:trees:soil equation, that would be very much appreciated!  Keep it coming, please!

    P.S. I think the fungal stamp is an awesome idea but don't see that getting through.  We have an enormous machine in our office the size of a small house that tests each piece of mail for anthrax every day.  I'd guess any extra "agents" would be discouraged.
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    Gail Saito
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      I really like this idea.  I can visualize a stamp containing a tree and blue sky.  Perhaps I missed this, but what exactly is your plan, in terms of the revenue generated from selling this stamp?  USPS most likely will want to know!
     
    Roberto pokachinni
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    Another possibility would be to suggest that the stamps pay for the greening of the USPS fleet, as well as planting trees, or organic community gardens, or other carbon sequestration projects. 

    In the case of the fleet reducing or eliminating their emissions, that is half of the battle, with planting trees or other carbon farming strategies being the other half, right?

    So, it could be pointed out that an urban community garden produces food in a local neighborhood so that the tractors in the fields and trucking of food is reduced at the same time that soil building is taking place. 

    Lots of initiatives like this could stack functions.  For instance: The fleet could be powered by wood gas (something that was done during the depression and second world war in the U.S. with many farm machines and utility trucks), which has a by-product of activated charcoal which can be made into water or air filters, or bio-char (char activated with nutrients)-the latter added to soil increases fertility and soil carbon for long term sequestration.
          
     
    Jesse Fister
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    Thekla McDaniels wrote:Jesse, how are we doing?  Are these the kinds of suggestions that will help you prepare your presentation?

    I had another idea.  I prefer the USPS because the trucks come to my house every day, and if someone sends me something by the white purple orange trucks or the brown trucks, it is a special trip.  If we could get some small amount added to the cost of the flat rate boxes (which I love, especially when I am shipping soap and other heavy things) to do the carbon offset and there could be an educational campaign so people realize there is a difference carbon footprint wise between the three carriers, maybe more people would ship USPS.  Which would be a good thing, wouldn't it?  Does the USPS break even on packages or is it only first class letters that will help the budget shortfall the USPS faces.

    Please educate me if you have the time. 


    USPS has exclusive access to your mailbox.  They legally "own" the inside of your mailbox and you do not.  The fact that we deliver to your mailbox already everyday is something our competitors use to claim USPS has an unfair market advantage.  My understanding is that when a business has a monopoly on anything their strategy becomes to overemphasize perceived competition and downplay the monopoly advantage.  Therefore, I think we would want UPS and FedEx to follow suite and do the same.  And that just means better things for our climate.
     
    Jesse Fister
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    Gail Saito wrote:  I really like this idea.  I can visualize a stamp containing a tree and blue sky.  Perhaps I missed this, but what exactly is your plan, in terms of the revenue generated from selling this stamp?  USPS most likely will want to know!


    That's a good question.  I don't have a plan right now.  It would be good to talk with someone at the Permaculture Institute and ask about this program with their carbon funding from books.  I would want to see something similar.
     
    Jesse Fister
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    Roberto pokachinni wrote:Another possibility would be to suggest that the stamps pay for the greening of the USPS fleet, as well as planting trees, or organic community gardens, or other carbon sequestration projects. 

    In the case of the fleet reducing or eliminating their emissions, that is half of the battle, with planting trees or other carbon farming strategies being the other half, right?

    So, it could be pointed out that an urban community garden produces food in a local neighborhood so that the tractors in the fields and trucking of food is reduced at the same time that soil building is taking place. 

    Lots of initiatives like this could stack functions.  For instance: The fleet could be powered by wood gas (something that was done during the depression and second world war in the U.S. with many farm machines and utility trucks), which has a by-product of activated charcoal which can be made into water or air filters, or bio-char (char activated with nutrients)-the latter added to soil increases fertility and soil carbon for long term sequestration.


    I agree.  USPS has even discussed adding refrigerators to mail delivery trucks and transporting groceries to people's houses locally.  My thought was to start connecting farmers to consumers at a local level with affordable local delivery.  The infrastructure's already there.  But that's a project for another time.

    The other thing I hope this might do is consider other industries to start taking responsibility.  Automotive manufacturers?  Coffee distributors?  The trucking industry?  Give consumers the option in every industry.  Perhaps USPS can set an example.
     
    John Strohl
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    Jesse,

    For details on carbon sequestration by trees, the effects of planting trees, and for ideas of how to engage the funds from this, I suggest that you contact Clare Dubois, the founder of Treesisters (treesisters.com) @ through her webpage or at her email of clare@treesisters.org   They are doing fantastic work in exactly this space and would undoubtedly be willing to team up with you on this. Tell her I sent you, and I'll give her a heads up to expect your contact. She's in California, so not that far away

    Regards
    John Strohl
     
    Raven Sutherland
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    great topic..... 

    here are some random thoughts.

    The stamp could be impregnated with oyster mushroom spores in between two layers and make it a thick stamp
    one that you can actually feel with your thumb. Oyster mushrooms clean up the environment of oil spills so these could
    circulate world wide for people to have easy access.

    Did you know that we can differentiate between one million of an inch
    of thickness with our quite sensitive fingers?

    Imagine if all people had to do was to feel for a thick stamp then roll it up
    and tuck it in the soil where someone accidentally spilled some OIL.

    it would be so easy to find a junk envelope to do this
    instead of utilizing them only to start your fire in the wood stove.

     
    Thekla McDaniels
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    Jesse, I contacted Peter Donovan, the guy with the best understanding of soil carbon I know.  He has websites :  Managing Wholes and The soil Carbon Coalition, and The Soil Carbon Challenge.  His understanding of carbon sequestration is extensive.  He is passing my email on to a guy named Abe Collins who is interested in something called "block chain"  something akin to "bit coin"  to create fair, trustworthy, and efficient systems for paying farmers for improved soil function.

    According to Peter, the carbon in the soil moves like water in a river.  I really don't understand the complexities of it, and would love to see the funds generated by the proposed stamp be used effectively.  It is just not a process that will lend itself to being reduced to simplified understanding.

    Possibly one of the uses of the funds generated would be to seek out and support people with a greater understanding of the complexities to begin an education effort.  Bring the accomplishments of the Gabe Brown of somewhere in North Dakota (and I wish I could remember the soil scientist who often speaks with him), and Mark Shepard of New Forest Farm in Wisconsin and the restoration of the Loess Plateau in China to more people's attention.

    no till is a single strategy that lowers costs and increases yields while decreasing loss of carbon from the soil, in fact, when used with cover crops increases soil carbon and soil fertility.  Many soil scientists at  extension offices across the nation have not yet begun to teach the benefits of no till methods.

    I am thinking perhaps one of the fastest ways to get a lot of change would be to engage in a process that would bring these practices to more land owners.  I do hope some of the people with understanding of the complexities of the process will be included in guiding the efforts, once the stamp has been approved, and funds are being generated.

    Another idea I just had while writing this:  that a portion of the funds could be allocated to address some of the issues that are playing out in other lands.    Since we all share the same air, then we need to address it world wide, not just at  home.  Like waters in the river and carbon in the soil, air moves.

     
    Andrea Mondine
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    Hi!
    Amazing idea. Hopefully the USPS will agree...although the word 'hope' shouldn't be anywhere in your business plan.
    I know you need to focus on 'Step 1' (business plan, presentation and agreement), but my first thought was actually something that would belong in 'Step 2' of your implementation process.

    Offer these stamps to other like-minded groups, individuals, or organizations to distribute in their retail locations, their e-commerce stores, their clients, or even to friends and family.
    I would be one that would be willing to offer them at my check-out register or page with a brief description and link to a direct-buy option and directly to my Clients.  Small retailers that are nature, outdoors, or conservation based may be interested also. We have a small wild bird specialty shop locally, and they often have conservation groups come in and present educational programs. Fewer trees=fewer appropriate habitat areas for wildlife as well. Also, our local food co-op is very community based and will collaborate for the greater good. I'm positive they would offer them for sale.  I feel those types of relationships would be invaluable.   A book or page of them would also be great as a gift for someone. With the wide reach of permies, you have a vast built in network that I'm sure would be ready to jump on board.

    I agree with some of the other posts above. Email is convenient, but you can't tell me that when you open a keepsake box and see a letter or card you received from your mother or other irreplaceable human, written in her own hand, that it doesn't bring back a flood of emotion. I LOVE receiving letters and mail, and we often just don't find the time anymore. I for one have tried to keep that tradition alive. I write my son letters (in college in another state), send letters across the country to my remaining siblings, and even sometimes mail a letter to my daughter who still lives with me...and then have her get the mail when I know it will be delivered.  The unmistakable excitement of 'Oooh! What's this?? A letter for meeeeee?' just can't be topped.

    Regarding your business plan, I may be able to answer some structural questions if you need any guidance (having written multiple corporate business plans). Basically you want to show not only your overall goal, but also show exactly how you see your idea becoming a reality. The process of your idea is as important as the research you mentioned for your potential presentation. You want to show how, what resources you need, and very specific time frame estimates that will be required.  

    Best of luck, and if you think I could help in any way, please let me know.
    We need more great, different ideas like this to drive new schools of thought for a brighter future.
    ~~Andrea
     
    Dk Jacob
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    I do like this idea.  But its prime time may have already past (as others have pointed out) since Email is so much more convenient.  You will get decent initial sales from people wanting to do something good as well as from stamp collectors but then I don't think it will sustain. Does not mean you should not try.... just being realistic.

    Looking forward to seeing how this goes tho.  Good luck.
     
    Deb Rebel
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    Jesse Fister wrote: I agree.  USPS has even discussed adding refrigerators to mail delivery trucks and transporting groceries to people's houses locally.  My thought was to start connecting farmers to consumers at a local level with affordable local delivery.  The infrastructure's already there.  But that's a project for another time.



    Side tangent but important. I lived in a cul-de-sac for six years on the 'outward bound' strip that led into the entire loopy section. Our mail carrier had a heart attack and was near retirement and they had stuck him up there, with just the one route to service. If he was on leave or vacation his replacement often did the route in 1.5 hours. He would sit on corners, read magazines he was supposed to be delivering and would spend 8:30-4:30 on that route. I was one of the last to get mail on the way out. Lots of complaints and I went personally to the downtown main office and they literally told me, what I mentioned. He had three years to retirement, he had seniority, and he would be staying on that route. I could get a box at a sub station and go get my own mail if I wanted. Someone like him delivering groceries wouldn't work!

    I wouldn't mind paying 1-2 cents more on a stamp for a greenhouse gas reduction plan.
     
    Jesse Fister
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    Our mail carrier...would sit on corners, read magazines he was supposed to be delivering and would spend 8:30-4:30 on that route...Someone like him delivering groceries wouldn't work!


    That must have been many years ago as something like that is not possible today.  They ping our GPS locations every 40 seconds or so now so management/upper management always know where we are.  We're on very strict schedules.

    Update: our meeting was moved to Thursday.
     
    Jesse Fister
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    Wish me luck!  I present today and will share how it goes.
    Filename: Go-Blue-Stamp-out-Carbon.pdf
    File size: 94 Kbytes
     
    Thekla McDaniels
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    You'll do fine Jesse.
     
    Deb Rebel
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    Give'm Heck, Jesse, and may you succeed with flying colors!
     
    Erica Wisner
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    I like the idea of a whole line of products.  I'm definitely a potential customer.

    During my big book-shipping adventures this year, I looked for 2 or 3 days for recycled cardboard book wrappers for our book shipping, or fungal-impregnated, or etc.  I ended up going with ordinary corrugated because it was the only option in the right size (saved both cost and weight for shipping).

    If there were a line of standard-sized packages made of recycled paper and paperboard, it could be an attractive specialty item, and you might get bulk orders from people who buy postal supplies online.  (There's limited recycled options in many sizes.) For my own personal convenience, I'd want to see adjustable-size book mailers and DVD/CD mailers, as well as the standard postal options (flat-rate boxes, envelopes, etc).  I would have been willing to go with a book mailer up to 1" too big in order to get recycled mailers.  Even without going into the esoteric box styles like that, even a limited size range would be attractive for people who care about this sort of thing.


    I wonder if I'm seeing the logo you have in mind?
    I am seeing a double silhouette that could be printed in one ink color (blue or blue-green would look great on unbleached paperboard and manila). 
    A blue rondel of sky with the branches in 'neutral' (whatever color it's printed on), and a blue spread of roots below with the background neutral. 

    For USPS branding, use the lighter version of the USPS logo blue, like carriers' summer uniforms.   The branded products would be attractive to any customer, not just people who are seeking a premium recycled product.
    On white or manila recycled-content paper, it could be a good fall/winter scene for seasonal mailers without being exclusively Christmas or Valentines' specific.

    I'm attaching a very rough example - I think it took me 12 minutes, feel free to include on presentation materials. 
    (If they love it, maybe turn an in-house graphic artist loose on improvements, or at least give me another 30 minutes to make it more professional-looking before they go to print?)

    There might possible be 'greenwashing' questions about ink toxicity in the blue-colored spectrum.  For example the Canadian section of an acrylic inks MSDS lists "COPPER PHTHALOCYANINE" as a regulated (somewhat toxic) chemical.  However, there's a great non-toxic line of high-quality light to dark blues, a very good match for the postal-blue logo, known as synthetic ultramarines.  Very stable, light-fast, non-toxic. 
    (I tried to look up standard printing cyan colorant, to give you a better idea if this is a total no-problem, but it's listed as "proprietary.") 

    I think the light ultramarine blues would be a better match for the postal light-blue than a standard cyan, anyway. 
    These true-blue pigment colors often don't photocopy consistently (blues and blue-greens are annoyingly sensitive to copier settings unless they're a true cyan), a minor advantage in case you have problems with counterfeit stamps. 

    The stamps themselves could have more variety (a contest, photos, Earth Day themed sets, etc), printed full-color in the usual way.

    I would suggest the Arbor Day folks might be a good partner as well, they are in the business of helping people plant trees, and pretty well known (the appeal goes beyond one particular demographic).  They might like the idea of using their tree logo in a different color.

    And yes, financial viability and market-appeal are valid reasons, and the project should certainly reward the post office's efforts. 
    (I assume they make some small amount of money on each stamp, so donating the entire surcharge to the cause would not leave them out of pocket.) 

    I'm OK with the unsympathetic postal workers joking about 'a tax on people who believe that carbon hoopla,' after all, it's less ironic than using the lottery to fund education.

    Yours,
    Erica W
    StampOutCarbon.png
    [Thumbnail for StampOutCarbon.png]
    StampOutCarbon placeholder image
     
    Erica Wisner
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    p.s. Here's Arbor Day Foundation's carbon-offset program: https://www.arborday.org/takeaction/carbon/
     
    Jesse Fister
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    Guys, we knocked it out of the park!  They loved it. 

    Next step is they want to set me up with Senators Tester and Daines of Montana to try and get senator backing.  That's scheduled for December.  They even mentioned looking into sustainability positions for me at headquarters in Washington D.C.  Wow!

    So the work isn't over.  We have a few big questions to answer.

    First is what the stamp will look like, and Erica already gave us one great submission.  Perhaps I can do an art contest for this on the forums here.

    Second, we need to start looking into which third party would hold the trust funds from the revenue generated.  I would hope to see funds dispersed for: keyline systems, intensive rotational grazing, prairie restoration and growing trees.  Is that too much to ask or should be stick to a program like Arbor Day, as Erica also directed us to?  Should we contact the Permaculture Institute?

    I'm reminded of a few quotes by Bill Mollison in all of this:

    “The greatest change we need to make is from consumption to production, even if on a small scale, in our own gardens. If only 10% of us do this, there is enough for everyone. Hence the futility of revolutionaries who have no gardens, who depend on the very system they attack, and who produce words and bullets, not food and shelter.”

    I am also soberly reminded from page 138 of Permaculture: A Designer's Manual, that: "We should not be deceived by the propaganda that promises "for every tree cut down, a tree planted". The exchange of a 50 g seedling for a forest giant of 50-100 tonnes is like the offer of a mouse for an elephant."

    Nevertheless, I still think this initiative must be good.  The world is complex and I can't imagine how anything can improve if we don't try.  I hope that it's simply a matter of finding the right places for this money to be sent and the right trust fund organization to handle these funds.
     
    Jesse Fister
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    Erica Wisner wrote:
    I'm OK with the unsympathetic postal workers joking about 'a tax on people who believe that carbon hoopla,' after all, it's less ironic than using the lottery to fund education.

    Yours,
    Erica W


    Erica, thank you so much for your thorough and helpful post.  I'll forward the Arbor Day Foundation to the District Manager.  Also, I love your stamp art idea.  This is one of the things they asked me: "have you thought of a stamp design yet?"

    Yes, I think it was important to pitch this in a way that keeps the industry's needs at the forefront.  And it worked!  It's a win-win.

    With regards to eco-packaging, I haven't looked into this much, but you might check out this page:  USPS Sustainability - Products
     
    Jesse Fister
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    Erica Wisner wrote:
    (I assume they make some small amount of money on each stamp, so donating the entire surcharge to the cause would not leave them out of pocket.) 


    Actually, they stand to make great profit this way.  Consider that every letter sent that would not have been sent otherwise is worth nearly half a dollar ($0.47) of gross revenue generated.  I gave an example in my presentation that 1% of 318+ million Americans sending one more letter once a year: $1.5 million gross profit or 1.8% of our 2015 controllable income.
     
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