A couple of months ago I was given a box with envelopes which had been kept by Verily Anderson, the late grandmother of my partner Eloise. A suitable 'inheritance', as I'm a keen re-user of envelopes. All 'No Junk Mail' stickers and other items I sell on the Stop Junk Mail website are sent in second-hand envelopes, for example. It makes perfect sense to me. Stop Junk Mail is about reducing paper waste, so why would I buy new envelopes if there are so many that can easily be re-used? Why spend money on plain envelopes if you can make original and much more colourful ones yourself?
I'm aware this a minority view. Modern economics teaches that re-using throwaway items such as envelopes is uneconomic, and many people seem to think that one's own actions have no impact on the environment whatsoever. Just the other day someone left a comment on Stop Junk Mail's YouTube Channel (forgot it even existed…) about my envelope re-use labels. The person's conclusion was:
"The efforts you're going to, although applaudable, are akin to a mouse peeing in the atlantic."
Now that's a view I can't understand. What's the problem with a mouse peeing in the Atlantic?
Granny Verily kept envelopes because it's easy to re-use them and because it's wasteful to just throw them out. Simple as that. Many of the envelopes Verily kept must also have had memories attached to them; some of them date back to the 1940s! Clearly, today's throwaway culture was alien to her. And I think she was right...