Why an initiative in Berlin wants to send stickers to everyone in Germany…
… and why it helps to reduce waste.
It is April the 14th. I’m returning from my two-week holiday break, coming home exhausted from a long train ride. I’m tired and all I want is to get in my bed quickly. But wait, I haven’t checked my letter box yet. There might be some important letters or the new magazine I’ve ordered. But when I open my letter box, a pile of paper falls out. And even more flyers, advertising magazines and leaflets, some even coated with plastic, are cramped in the small space. Annoyed, I take the whole bundle, and throw it in the bin, without another look. This small incident was certainly not helping to improve my mood.
Does this scenario sound familiar to you? I am sure, almost everyone of us has gotten a bunch of advertising magazines without wanting them, and throwing them away without looking at them. In Germany, every household receives up to 33 kg of unaddressed advertising every year! This equals 2,8 million trees that are cut down every single year. But that is not all: The production of the advertisement costs energy, releases CO2 and pollutes water. Resources are wasted and waste is produced. And it is not only paper, but plastic coats as well. And to be honest: Who takes time to remove them, before throwing everything in the trash?
But what to do? How can everyone of us avoid to get all this unwanted stuff? You don’t have to start a petition, or fight the postman. You don’t even have to invest a lot of money. It’s the easiest environmental action in the world, promised. You only need a piece of paper and a pen.
In Germany the legal situation is clear: If you put a sticker, or a sign, or even just a piece of paper on your letterbox with the words “No advertising”, in German “Bitte keine Werbung”, then the postmen (or whoever brings the advertisement) are legally obliged not to put any unaddressed advertising into your letterbox! That’s it. You won’t get any advertisement anymore! And congratulations: You’ve just saved 2,8 Million trees. Every year!
But why are there still so many letter boxes without a sticker? In Germany, one in ten households has a sticker. (By the way, Bayreuth is with a 40% “sticker-coverage” way above average and a good example.) But does everyone else simply want the advertisement? Surely not! Unawareness and laziness are often the cause. And a small association in Berlin wants to change that! Their aim is to raise awareness and make sure every sticker-less household in Germany (33 730 300 households, state: march 2018) can get a sticker. This makes it very easy to say “No” to advertisement. They call themselves “Letzte Werbung” (“Last advertisement”) and have already started last year: 40 000 stickers have been sent to Olpe and Hamburg, making it easy for people to get rid of unwanted advertisement. And more is yet to come!
But until then, it is up to you. If you are annoyed by all the advertisement, make a sticker yourself (you can download the sticker here). It is a simple act – with an enormous impact.
Read also the article in the Nordbayrischer Kurier about the campaign in Bayreuth (German only):
Title image: Letzte Werbung
Author: Katharina Funk
I joined the Master’s program “Global Change Ecology” in 2016, studying additionally environmental law. My Bachelor’s programm was “Integrated Life Sciences” in Erlangen, Germany. My main interests are climate policy, sustainability, environmental ethics and social-ecological systems.