The Letter Writing Revolution

Revitalizing a Lost Art One Letter at a Time

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Letter Writing and the Environment

I have been wanting to address this topic for some time. After visiting the Letter Writer's Alliance blog, I was motivated to write about it. Thanks, Donovan!

I consider myself to be an environmentalist recycling everything I possibly can, walking instead of driving, washing our clothes on the cold cycle, bringing my own dishes to functions rather than using paper products, etc. One day, while admiring the pile of letters on my kitchen table about to be mailed, it dawned on me that I am buying and using paper for letter writing when perhaps, I could send the same messages via email or phone and save a tree per year. I thought of my dear friends, Val and Stephan of  iD2 Communications who "specialize in the ethical management and production of communications with a focus on sustainability." You will never meet two people more knowledgeable about the impact of our actions, purchases and choices on the environment as Val and Stephan. I wonder what they think of my Letter Writing Revolution. I wonder if they shudder at the thought of more and more paper being used for something so wasteful as letter writing.

If you are concerned about the environment and want to continue letter writing, here are some ideas to continue this hobby while reducing your impact on Mother Earth:
1) Recycle old cards by cutting in half and using as postcards.
2) Take letters/cards that you planned to recycle and instead re-use by making homemade paper to write more letters!
3) Cut up cardboard packaging and create unique, one-of-a-kind mail art.
4) Make sure that what you write is worth saving for years to come :-) Check out the Gardening Nude blog where Shawna writes about staying green while sending out greeting cards."If you think what you are sending is going to be looked at and tossed immediately in the recycling bin, then it is not worth sending."

How do you make letter writing more environmental?


  1. Great ideas! We often purchase our letter writing paper second-hand at thrift shops or yard sales. We rarely give birthday cards for the reason noted in the quote above. And we've recently started making our own paper with paper headed to the recycling bin. Finally, inspired by a friend who did this, we create envelopes out of old magazine pages. I really enjoy the creativity that reducing and recycling inspires.

    Blessings and light...

  2. I have had a problem with this since the project began....have you ever tried to find sustainable paper in those fancy paper shops? When I asked in a few Toronto shops if they had recycled or FSC writing paper, they looked at me as if I had just grown another head. This is definitely an area that we can advocate for and until then, it's plain old printer paper for my correspondence because I know where it is coming from!

  3. Interesting post, I've been thinking about this too: but, personal correspondence is a drop in the ocean compared to paper being wasted on things like junk mail (and celebrity autobiographies! ;-) ), and arguably encourages mindfulness and valuing non-material things in a way that might make us more environmentally conscious? Perhaps? :-). Great recycling ideas though, and I'd love to try and make my own ;-).

  4. I am going to talk with Gary at Paper/Papier about what they can offer as far as sustainable paper is concerned........I know that I received a letter from the US that was written on paper made from elephant dung so there are alternatives!

  5. I have heard it argued that Fountain Pens are better than disposable pens but haven't really looked into it.

  6. I would agree with the fountain pen argument as long as it is a decent one not the cheapo one that falls apart within a few months. One that lasts and can be filled with ink is probably best.

  7. Interesting you should mention fountain pens....when I was an undergraduate, I used fountain pens to take my lecture notes but fell our of using them when I finished schoool. However, reading No Impact Man by Colin Beavan re-introduced me to the love of writing with one of the many fountain pens I have gathered through the years! Again, somthing that makes correspondence (or writing in your journal or even just jotting notes to yourself) special.

  8. I don't think disposable pens will ruin the will be obsolete cell phones and other gadgets that get chucked for an upgrade. That said, I'm all for fountain pens!

  9. I use 100% recycled paper! It's not hard to find....well....really pretty recycled paper is hard to find. But I figure the people I'm writing to are more excited about my letter rather than what it's written on.

    Stephanie :)

  10. Consider too, that the internet DOES run on energy.

    I am all for being more environmentally conscious about how we write letters, but let's not forget that sending an email has an effect on the environment too, even if it is not directly apparent to us.

  11. Hello all letter writers! I always include a photo with my letters. Our children write thank-you notes after their birthdays. While on vacation, I print actual photos of us (on the beach, or whatever) and use those as postcards! They go through the mail just fine.

    I have been thinking about the environmentalism of Christmas cards too so I was pleased to read this post. I send a Christmas letter on recycled paper and include our family photo although I have been thinking about sending an online letter - hmmmmm.


I need to know that this revolution is growing and impacting the masses. Your comments motivate me! Please take the time to let me know how TLWR is working for you.