Stamps are an essential part of the postal services issued by the postal administration to keep track of information that belongs to respective parcels. However, you can recycle or repurpose postal stamps, but it is illegal to reuse a stamp for postal use.
The world of stamps is rather interesting with its origin, use, legal policies, and craze among philatelists (a person who collects stamps). So, if you are someone who owns a collection of stamps or wants to know ways to reuse stamps in legal ways, this segment is for you.
Evolution of stamps
The history and evolution of stamps is another interesting subject, especially for philatelists. Paper stamps were said to be invented in 1661. However, adhesive postage stamps came into light in the mid-1840s, and by 1860 they entered the United States.
How can you reuse stamps legally and creatively?
Celebrations, big or small, personal or professional, are embellished by exchanging letters and cards. Usually, people throw the envelopes with a stamp on them in the trash, and disposing of them this way is absolutely okay!
However, below are to-the-point ideas to get creative with your postage stamp collection-
• Become a philatelist, a stamp collector. Today, there are mediums to connect, share and create a space for every creation. This might also lead you to the path of a stamp guide. You can learn and make monetary benefits if you become an expert in recognizing the true value of postage stamps.
• What if you don’t want to throw postage stamps into the trash, but you are also not interested in collecting them? Well, then you donate them! Donation for charity leads to raising money from these postage stamps. For reference and value, you can consider the Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue issued by the US Postal Services.
Here, we have enlisted a few websites for you. Just go through their instructions and donate the stamps to charity.
- Stamps for the Wounded
- Postal History Foundation
- Smithsonian National Postal Museum
- Stamp Album Donation
- Postage Stamp Collection Donations
• The other way around is creating art with your collection. There are aesthetic, Pinterest-worthy and some minimalistic ideas to utilize the used postage stamps at home. You can design any art piece depending upon the number of postal stamps you have and frame it, and that’s the most common trick to play. You can create lamp shades, front cover designs, wall art, resin keychains, and endless options.
• Postage stamps enhance the historical and cultural significance of the respective countries and use in journals.
The legal section of postal stamps
According to U.S. Postal Services, more than 5 million people in the U.S. collect, trade, and preserve stamps. A stamp signifies the confirmation that the cost to deliver the mail or postage has been received.
Postage stamp reuse involves reusing stamps from a sent or received mail to avoid getting charged for the cost of a post. The U.S Postal Services categorize this fraud under penalty Section 604 of USPS that states: Reuse of stamps with intent to cause loss to the government or the USPS is a punishable crime by fine and imprisonment.
How do postal services prevent ‘reuse’?
The United States clearly states that the Reuse of used stamps is a punishable crime. United States Postal Services mark different parameters and processes to prevent the Reuse of postal stamps. Methods like grilling mute cancellation, varnish bars, perfin, or surface coating were used to signify the use of stamps.
Cork impressions or wooden stamps were printed over the stamp. Grilling was used in the United States. However, this method was banned after easy stamp tearing was observed.
Now United States government designs and develops stamps under highly controlled conditions with the advancement and innovation of new techniques to capture frauds. The printing material, ink, and designs are restricted to the dedicated use of postage stamps only. Microprinting is one of the security features implemented to prevent fraud.
However, countries have their individual methods and prevention strategies for the Reuse of postal stamps.
Sustainable policies and plan of the U.S Postal Services
The United States has been actively working for sustainable practices in every branch and administration. The U.S Department of the Interior releases the latest statutory requirements to encourage and standardize environment-appropriate practices.
Vision and Implementation of USPS
Do you remember any stamps from your childhood, maybe some 20 years back? Let me tell you: it’s been two decades since the U.S Postal services replaced the invented stamps with pressure-sensitive adhesive stamps, which we use today.
USPS collaborated with Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) 20 years ago, and together they focused on transitions and development to improve stamp quality.
Carl Houtman, a chemical engineer at FPL, says, “Advancements made with the Postal Service work were of interest to the entire label industry. The Label Manufacturers Institute has adopted the same standards as the USPS, so labels can now be certified as recycling compatible.”
How cooperative research of FPL & USPS benefits the environment?
This incredible team at the research center is working on developing an adhesive that is compatible with the recycling processes and biodegradable. Without disturbing the quality of postal stamps, a scientist at Forest Products Laboratory ensures to reduce the environmental hazards from postal stuff.
This concept benefits the management of postal waste and reduces any environmental degradation. Considering the recycling compatible pressure-sensitive-adhesive used by us has made it possible to recycle million tons of waste paper.
- A study suggests that sustainable postage can benefit not only the environment but also society as a whole. Sustainable postal stamps use recycled paper stock and ink instead of traditional materials such as oil or water-based inks.
- USPS claims that their Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express packaging contains an average of 84% recycled content for all packaging types and 98% recycled content for paper and cardboard packaging.
Sustainable practices of the U.S Postal Services
According to History of Stamps, in 1847, Congress authorized United States postage stamps, and the first general issue postage stamps went on sale in New York City on July 1, 1847, that depicted Benjamin Franklin and George Washington.
U.S Postal Services stick to the history of environmental awareness practices with convenient and sustainable services till today. USPS ensures appropriate standards for paper used by postal mail. It guarantees to outsource paper/pulp from sustainably managed forests.
United States Postal Services serves sustainable solutions under the name of USPS BlueEarth:
- USPS BlueEarth Carbon Accounting
- USPS BlueEarth Federal Recycling Programs
- USPS BlueEarth Secure Destruction
These customer services ensure an affordable and convenient way to manage the postal services’ mail, disposal, and greenhouse gas emissions. They collaborate with the large units to consult and manage mail waste and reduce carbon impact efficiently. This unit encourages the cooperation of other agencies and citizens as well. Following this, 37 U.S federal agencies enrolled in the sustainable programs run by mail service program to work on the green living concept.
Innovations like climate-efficient shipping and online carbon analysis and reporting have created opportunities to solve environmental degradation issues and serve as an employment platform.
Did you know USPS recycled 277,994 tons of paper and plastic in 2021, which included 78,044 tons of cardboard and 4293 tons of plastics?
The U.S Postal Services also targets to build an innovative community approach to expand the implementation and utilization of alternative energy.
Recent incidents of forest fire across European countries and the U.S.A have initiated deadly heat waves that have also led to disturbances in current climatic and seasonal conditions. The environment has started the indication cycle, small or big, but steps such as measure, management, and reduction by the U.S Postal Services can significantly impact. With the goal to reduce 25% of the energy used per square foot of building space by 2025, USPS is ready to create sustainable initiatives.
In the digital world, when you can share, send and receive in just one click, I personally think postal mail is pure emotion. There are numerous creative ways to live sustainably and encourage the same. Reuse stamps ‘legally’ and encourage the purpose of reducing and recycling with the U.S Postal Services.
Why don’t you write a letter this year? Don’t forget the stamp!