Reflections on Earth Day 2019

On April 22 we celebrate Earth Day, a day of learning and action that marks its 50th anniversary next year.

It has been quite a movement. According to its official website, the original Earth Day – proposed by US Senator Gaylord Nelson in response to a massive oil spill here in our native Santa Barbara, California – attracted over 20 million Americans to rallies and teach-ins. Today, it is the largest secular observance in the world, with over billion people taking part each year.

Every year, our celebration of Earth Day gets me thinking about the difference between a cause and a mission. Many companies support causes, and that is a great thing. But for us, saving the environment is a mission. It was why I originally founded Service Objects back in 2001 – to use strategies from mathematics to reduce the waste stream of mis-directed direct mail marketing. Today, this is still a key part of why we do what we do.

For me, this is personal. I am an avid outdoorsman living in one of the most beautiful places on Earth, which in my lifetime has faced dangers ranging from that 1969 oil spill to recent threats from global warming, wildfires and mudslides. Last year alone our state of California suffered the loss of over 18 million trees due to environmental catastrophe, not to mention scores of human lives.

Naturally we are trying to help in the short term. This past year we joined a consortium of businesses directly funding reforestation efforts in California with a goal of one million new trees planted. And through our partnership with One Tree Planted, Service Objects plants ten new trees each time a new customer signs up for one of our services.

In the longer term, our services have continued to make a real impact on the waste stream in the environment. How big an impact? Last year we validated our three billionth transaction since our founding in 2001, and as of this writing we are now closer to three and a half billion. (If you are curious about how we are doing, check out the live real-time transaction count right on the front page of our web site.) Here is what we estimate these transactions have saved to date:

  • 217 million pounds of paper
  • 8 million trees
  • 754 million gallons of water
  • 442 million kilowatt hours of energy
  • 332 thousand cubic yards of landfill space
  • Nearly 64 million pounds of air pollution

Nowadays our business goes far beyond cleaning up direct mail – we serve some of the world’s largest companies with everything from lead validation to geocoding. But address validation is still at the heart of what we do.

Every day is Earth Day at our company. We incentivize employees for biking to work, conserve energy and work hard to reduce our own waste stream. Conservation isn’t just a banner or a slogan for us, but a cornerstone of our culture. You can read more about our corporate commitment to the environment here and we are proud of our efforts.

So here is my challenge for you on this year’s Earth Day: what can you do to make a real difference for the environment? I hope that you and your business will join us in helping to protect this fragile planet we all share. Together we can accomplish a great deal for this Earth and future generations.

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