Yes, the title is a little silly. (And when I (Emma) ran it past my first proof reader, can be misinterpreted as something NSFW!) But I think that, right now, it would be nice to have a little escape from the harsh realities of the world and get a little levity into our lives.

And this article actually tackles an area of all our homes that we perhaps do not think about as being particularly wasteful, but that may produce the most trash outside of the kitchen and bathroom. So, let’s delve right into making your letterbox a greener place.

black door with letterbox

Limiting what you get in

Obviously, the biggest way to make your letterbox more sustainable is to limit what you bring in. The more things that you bring into your house, the more things that will ultimately have to be composted, recycled, or put into the council rubbish bins for incineration. But how to do that?

Put a ‘No Junk Mail” sign on your mailbox

It won’t work all the time, but it will make the leaflet delivery person out think twice about shoving another pizza menu or double glazing advert through your door.

Some of the bigger companies use Royal Mail to deliver their leaflets, but you can opt-out by downloading and filling in this form and posting it back at the address listed. (Can’t print? No problem. You can ring on 03457 740 740 and ask for a form to be posted to you.)

Full disclosure, this shouldn’t stop you getting political leaflets or important messages from the government (i.e. the coronavirus leaflets) because they are designed to keep you politically informed. If you do already know who you’re voting for in the next election, i.e. The Green Party, you can put up a sign saying “no political leaflets”.

Opt for text or email alerts from companies

man of colour looking at smartphone

Whether it’s your bank statement, electricity bill, or even your dental practice, most companies will be happy to change how they contact you as mailing things by post costs them money. Some will even reward you for going paperless with better deals.

Take this one step at a time. As you receive the latest communication from each company, read it closely to see if there is an online option. If its not in the letter, check their website.

Lowering the eco-impact of what you do get in

We all have stuff posted to us and none of us can say, especially now, that we actually get all our shopping done at physical stores. So if how can we lower the impact of what is posted to us?

Ask for no new packaging

pile of boxes
Someone clearly took old boxes from Starbucks to send these parcels

If you are buying something online (or even getting something sent to you by a friend or relative), ask the person posting to use some of their old packaging, rather than buying something new. After all, most packaging items can be used far more than once and it doesn’t really matter if the top you bought comes in a bubble envelope that someone else had a book arrive in, does it?

Request recyclable or compostable packaging

Envelopes
Remember that Portsmouth Green Party can recycle the stamps

If the person shipping can’t provide used packaging, which can happen if you’re buying new items from a big business, then ask for your items to be shipped in cardboard and paper, rather than plastic, which will be harder to recycle.

It’ll probably just take one email to customer services with your username, order number, and a request that a note is made on your account.

Side note: If you’re getting something sent to you, request the slowest possible shipping. This means that, in the case of international deliveries, the item is sent by ship, rather than by air, or, for UK-deliveries, that the car/van/truck it is driven in is more likely to be full, than if you’d selected next-day delivery.

Resuse what you have

cat on boxes
Guest starring: Tamara’s cat

On a related note, if you do get any boxes or bubble envelopes or other packaging through the door, consider reusing it when you have to send something. Your friends are unlikely to care if their birthday present arrives in an old Lush box and cushioned by Styrofoam from the last time you bought electronics. Just make sure everything is clean and dry before storing and sending.

If you can’t use it, give it away to someone who can via Packshare or on Freecycle/Freegle/Trash Nothing.         

Recycle and Compost what you can

wheelie bins

Not every piece of packaging or post can be recycled, but these are the post and packaging items you can recycle in Portsmouth’s green kerbside bins:

  • Cardboard boxes *
  • Corrugated cardboard *
  • Sheets of cardboard (perhaps used to keep items flat in envelopes) *
  • Cardboard envelopes (like the kind that DVDs or CDs are occasionally posted in) *
  • Paper envelopes * (including the kind with a window)
  • Junk mail
  • Newspapers *
  • Magazines
  • Directories

(The ones with stars next to them can be composted in your home compost bin.) (Not window envelopes!)

Bubblewrap and the stretchy plastic bags that magazines, for example, are posted in, can be recycled with carrier bags at larger supermarkets.

Well, that’s it from me today. Mainly because I’ve run out of things to say about letterboxes and partially because the spacebar has only worked 75%  of the time and I need to go sit somewhere away from my laptop for a long while.

Let me know in the comments if you have any other tips for making your post box green again. Or…

Post box with the text: Go send someone a love letter

Written by Emma, a Queer Freelance Writer