Making Junk Mail Useful (and Artful)


This is about the positive and artful side of junk mail.

I know, it’s a tough sell. Junk mail gets everyone riled. And no wonder – every year in the U.S. alone, 50 million trees are chopped down and sent through our doors in a useless torrent of unwanted, unsolicited information. The U.S. Department of Energy and the Paper Task Force estimate that disposing of junk mail consumes more energy than 3 million automobiles. Across the world, people are taking action. There’s activism at the British Post Office. The stars are raising their voices. Many companies are voluntarily switching to recycled paper or email communication. And…there are junk mail artisans.

Junk Mail Gems specializes in turning unsolicited bulk mail into functional, fun products: wallets, coin purses, jewelry, beads, magnets, office organizers, and more, all patterned with a mosaic harvested from junk mail. The paper beads are similar to those being distributed by Project Have Hope, as we reported recently.

Quirky and crafty may not be to your taste, but these imaginative items are a colorful, clever alternative to the landfill – and don’t you think they’re a little bit Andy Warhol? Now who would have thought that junk mail would turn out to be useful?

Image/purchase: Junk Mail Gems

Mike Sowden

Mike Sowden is a freelance writer based in the north of England, obsessed with travel, storytelling and terrifyingly strong coffee. He has written for online & offline publications including Mashable, Matador Network and the San Francisco Chronicle, and his work has been linked to by Lonely Planet, World Hum and Lifehacker. If all the world is a stage, he keeps tripping over scenery & getting tangled in the curtain - but he's just fine with that.