During a roundtable discussion at the PARCEL Forum last month, decision makers from top shipping and transportation companies agreed that the environment would be a key focus in 2009. With more consumers taking notice of their own carbon footprint, making sure your company is "lean, clean and green" just makes good business sense. When you partner with the Postal Service for shipping and mailing, you get lean solutions that conserve resources. You get clean programs around packaging materials, recycling, alternative fuel and more. Finally, you get the best green credentials in the industry and a little extra green in your pocket.


    The Postal Service has always provided the most environmentally friendly delivery in the United States, but now we've taken it to new heights. We operate the largest fleet of alternative and eco-friendly delivery vehicles and have eco-friendly solutions for everything from creating packaging and advertising, to delivery and returns. At the Postal Service, "Going Green" isn't just a term for the present, but an investment in the future.


    Don't believe mail can be eco-friendly? The Postal Service recently received two White House Environmental Awards and also received three honorable mentions for its efforts in making mail more environmentally friendly.


    The Postal Service's Vendor Partnership for envelope re-use won the Closing the Circle award for waste/pollution prevention and its Environmental Performance Track Initiative won for going above and beyond in the EPA's facilities drive for environmental excellence.


    Honorable mention was also earned for the Postal Service's Free certified Expedited Packaging, the Postal Service's purchasing plan and implementation tools, and its electronic stewardship and recycling program.


    Businesses today are finding new ways that going green can also be profitable. The Postal Service is providing solutions to assist these companies that are saving them money on advertising and shipping so they can maximize their profits. With the new age of high technology, more cell phones, pagers, BlackBerrys, iPods and computers will need to be repaired or disposed of. The Postal Service is leading the way in this area.


    USPS offers consumers the easiest way to return these items by offering free Carrier Pickup on all returned packages, saving consumers both time and money, offering easy solutions that allow customers to download and print labels right off the Internet or through an email.


    There is no matching USPS's reach on delivering or picking up packages from the consumer's home. USPS goes to every home and business six days a week, and since we go there anyway, delivering a package doesn't increase our fuel consumption as much as our competitors. This also gives your customers 52 extra delivery days a year with no surcharges. Speaking of surcharges, the Postal Service has none, allowing businesses to keep more of their profits. Fuel surcharges alone could increase your shipping costs between eight percent to 28%.


    There are many misconceptions about advertising mail - that it is killing trees and isn't environmentally friendly. The opposite is true. Advertising mail has gotten greener over the years. Much of it is now produced on recycled paper and can be recycled again after its use. More inks are being made that also reduce or eliminate toxins and these processes also, in most cases, reduce cost for the mailer.


    The Environmental Protection Agency recognizes all mail as recyclable mixed paper waste, so advertising through the mail and including a "Please Recycle" note is another way you can prove to your customers just how environmentally friendly your business is.


    The U.S. Postal Service is also working with mailers to reduce the amount of undeliverable mail as well as on successful targeting of direct mail campaigns to eliminate the unused pieces and also reduce costs for the mailer. Catalogs and direct mail pieces are used every day by consumers to shop online or by phone, eliminating the need for consumers to get in their cars and burn fuel to shop for goods and services, significantly cutting down the carbon emissions.


    The Postal Service has made available online shopping and mailing at www.usps.com so that consumers can do everything they need to at the post office from the comfort of their own homes.


    Shipping and mailing with the Postal Service will not only make your company more eco-friendly - your competitors will be green with envy when they see the amount of time and money you've saved.


    To find out more ways to green your businesses by shipping and mailing, visit the Postal Service's Green page at www.usps.com/green, email us your questions at packageservices@usps.gov or talk to your local USPS Business Development team or sales representative.