Whether I am biking along the forest trail or taking a stride inside the forest, I am always taken aback by how mighty and impossibly tall these trees are. Some are older than me and will continue to exist even after I am no more. They always bring me to my awareness, as to how tiniest of a speck that I am! Also, it agonizes when I realize how much of these trees we have consumed in such a short span in the form of byproducts, that sometimes directly end up in the trash bin. Yes, I am talking about paper. While softwood trees from which paper is made, last somewhere between 100 to 700 years, hardwood trees like eucalyptus are of invaluable medicinal worth. This is what we consume in the form of paper, the paper that we crumple and throw away mindlessly. From oxygen to paper, our lives are entwined and dependent on what these trees have to oﬀer. Oxygen is essential, while paper is extravagance. The question is, are we ready to trade oxygen for paper?
“I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic.. and act as if the house was on fire.” – Greta Thunberg
The next generation has taken it to the streets, to protest and demand immediate actions for climate change. What more of
an alarm do we need to panic? Instead of hoping that somebody else will ﬁx things for us, it is time we make some simple yet powerful changes. A drop in the ocean still counts. While there is a lot of information available out there on how to save paper, this post is not about giving additional information. But rather a call for action. Yes,“Letzte Werbung” a Berlin-based organization has taken the initiative to free all of Germany from unnecessary paper advertising. So let us join hands with them in spreading awareness by educating ourselves, our children, and our neighbors to say no to the unsolicited advertisements that fall in our mailboxes.
“Letzte Werbung” is a volunteer-driven organization, with a team of more than 20 from all over Germany. Currently, they have 4 squads to attack the issue at hand: Science & Communications, Politics, Distribution of the Stickers, and Empowerment. Anyone who wants to volunteer with the app development or spread awareness are welcome to contact the team via vostel.de or directly through their webpage. The team actually started last year with great vision, and have already shipped around 40,000 “Keine Werbung” stickers to households across Germany. 25% of the households already have a no ads sticker, while 76% don‘t want advertisement in their mailbox. Considering the extent to which our environment is polluted, it is crucial that this 76% ﬁnds a way to unsubscribe from these advertisements.
“Of the total paper consumption by German households, 7% accounts for the mailbox advertising.”
Do you know that 2.8 million trees are cut every year to get the required wood for the paper – the very trees that inﬁltrate CO2 for us, and the trees that counteract the steady global warming? 17% of the wood used is extracted from virgin forests, while the remaining comes from the specially farmed commercial forests. Of the total paper consumption by German households, 7% accounts for the mailbox advertising. Thus corresponding to a total of 33 kilos a year by every household, and therefore 1.11 million tons of paper across Germany. For these 1.11 million tons of advertising paper, 1 million ton of CO2 gets emitted, and 14 billion liters of water gets used up. And all for the advertisements that nobody wants anyway. Apart from that, these advertisements also leave behind 1 Billion plastic bags a year, which is pretty huge, considering the fact that 76% of the population doesn’t even want it in the ﬁrst place.
“Letzte Werbung” is looking forward to changing this once and for all. Last year, the initiator, Sebastian Sielmann and his team started the campaign, thus creating a wave of environmental awareness. This year, “Letzte Werbung” have greater goals and took a big leap with their campaign named “Stoppt die Plastikpost” on June 18th, in trying to reach people countrywide, and spread the word to bring about the desired change. The campaign was based on a court case ﬁled by a German lawyer, who sued the Deutsche Post for sending him the advertisements even after unsubscribing from Einkauf Aktuell. And he won the case. If he can unsubscribe from it, so should everyone else be able to.
“Though paper is recyclable and much care is invested in the paper production, does not mean that we need to consume more than what is required.”
In addition to the stickers, “Letzte Werbung” also provides us a free app that can report violations in case we continue to receive unsolicited advertisements in our mailbox despite the sticker. Also, with the campaign on June 18, “Stoppt die Plastikpost”, they have launched a Webpage, where people can unsubscribe the Einkauf Aktuell. Thanks to the 35,000 supporters, who have already unsubscribed using the webpage. You have not only helped prevent over 900 tons of Plastic post disposal per year but also helped reduce the CO2 emission by roughly 1200 tons.
So let us step up our game and be responsible not just for us, but for the future generations that deserve to live healthy, happy, and nourished. Though paper is recyclable and much care is invested in the paper production, does not mean that we need to consume more than what is required. Also, it is time. It is time we respond; it is time we return the favor; it is time we preserve.
“Tall and mighty they stand, as I crane my neck up to see the crown of those mammoth skyscrapers that these trees are.
Stretching its branches of densely patched leaves, it never failed to provide food, shelter, and air to the many birds, insects, and humans that came in its vicinity.
Wrinkles on its outer bark were a mark, that they are older than any number of well-preserved monuments out there.
Sturdy trunks sang the history of how strong and long they stood to witness many generations of lives before us.
Winds that blew narrated the hymns of the throbbing life within these trees, that will nourish many generations to come.
Standing amidst that calming forest, I could not help but ache in pain for the human threats that these forests face.
For the speck that I am, For a life such as mine, which is nothing more than a blip in a radar, how much of trees do I consume that I am unaware of?”
Madhu Priya Murugan
Software Developer by profession, and a seeker by nature, Madhu (29 y.o from Köln) reflects on her life in her blog andinstagram. Also, she enjoys painting, reading books, and diving deep into the mysteries of life.