If you hate junk mail just like me, say “aye!”. Well, I believe no one likes having their mailbox – whether the online or a physical one – to be spammed with junk. Not only does it obstruct the view of the more important messages, the physical copies of such unwanted messages is also physically taxing on our environment. To make matters worst, advertisers are lured by the accessibility and affordability of these methods. Printing of the hard copy spam mails only gets cheaper when the quantity increases.
Besides the environmental damages resulting from the depletion of our forests, junk mail can also be a nuisance to our living environment. A recent post Facebook by opposition MP Pritam Singh, clearly shows the extent of the problem. In the post, he asked residents for their cooperation in keeping the estates clean – an issue which was also brought up by the Prime Minister- and posted photos of areas where he found trash lying around. Not surprisingly, the letter box area was filled with a sea of flyers. While the Housing Board has tried to alleviate the problem by installing locks to the flaps - only the postman has the key – and creating a boundary for the trash, Singpost’s Admail did nothing to help. In fact, it made things simpler for advertisers by offering to send the junk mail for them, betraying the right of access given to the postman.
So instead of making things simpler for the advertisers, we should use every possible mean to discourage the printing of flyers. To start off, the Ministry of Information Communication and the Arts should implement a National “no junk mail” database. This, will alert advertisers of people who do not wish to receive advertisments in their mail, eliminating the redundancies of sending to people who would eventually dump the flyers. Registrants will also be issued a sticker to be affixed on the mailbox to alert advertisers that they do not wish to receive any flyers.
As a “fine” city, it is without a doubt that such a policy will come with a fine for offenders. Offenders who flout the restrictions for more than 5 units a month will be liable for charges and fines. The goal is to eventually eliminate the use of printed flyers, saving our trees and keeping our neighborhoods clean. And just like the water conservation tax levied on excessive use of water, we could implement a “tree-conservation” tax. The amount to be varied in an incremental way, will help to reduce excessive printing, especially for promotional activities.
The proposals mentioned may not be easy to implement – no new policy is ever easy. Yet, it is an important step towards a cleaner and better environment for everyone.