For Neville, the issue hits close to home: Her father is the local mailman in Fairbourne. Their house is only a short distance from the shore where she cleans up plastic trash almost daily. And Fairbourne is one of the first British villages that will be swamped by rising sea levels; scientists estimate that houses there will probably be underwater in 20 years.
So, the dangers of climate change are top of mind.
But her story highlights one essential question: Can consumers decide what ends up in their mailbox?
The answer depends on where you live.
Many European countries, as well as Canada and Australia, have introduced opt-out systems: A sticker on your mailbox signals to postal carriers that they are not allowed to deliver bulk mail.
In 2018, Amsterdam pioneered an opt-in system, and several other Dutch cities soon followed suit. Instead of opting out of each individual mailer as you have to in the United States, Holland reversed the system.
In order to receive junk mail, you need to put a sticker on your mailbox that declares that you want it.
Amsterdam’s early results are so impressive that other cities and countries want to follow its example.
France, for example, has already drafted legislation, and in Germany, the newly elected government responded favorably to a petition to introduce the Dutch opt-in model.
Michaela Haas writes for Reasons to Be Cheerful, a nonprofit editorial project that strives to be a tonic for these tumultuous times. This piece is republished through the Solutions Journalism Network.