What A Waste Of Coin

What A Waste Of Coin

Coming to work this week, I saw a penny on the ground…then another…and another.

I saw people passing the money, and instead of picking it up, they kicked in off the curb.

That’s even worse than throwing them into the fountain where at least you might get some good luck from it.

Thus, the state of our minting of coinage–it’s essentially worthless.

After getting a pretty basic Venti Java Chip at Starbucks for a whopping $5.45, I quickly calculated, I would need 545 pennies,109 nickles, 54.5 dimes, or 21.8 quarters o pay for this–how ridiculous!

And uh, how many of these would you need to pay someone one hour at the new proposed minimum wage of $10.10 if you did it in coins?

Otherwise, I could just give them a credit or debit card–yes, sort of a no brainer, right?

Why do we keep making coinage that no one wants or needs in the digital age?

We have direct deposit for payroll, automatic deductions for many expenses, online banking, ecommerce , credit and debit cards, paypal, and even bitcoin…let’s just be honest and admit it, traditional money is basically obsolete.

At Starbucks, I see many people now just use their Smartphone App to pay and get rewards–another advance.

Someday soon, we will have embedded chips that simply add and deduct payments as we go along and live life–it’s really not all that complicated.

The funny thing also is that it costs more to make many coins then their intrinsic worth–and hence the drive towards making coins with cheaper materials.

According to Business Insider, in 2012, a penny cost 2.4 cents to make and a nickle 11.2 cents–quite a losing proposition.

While there truly are some valuable coins out there and I appreciate that there are many coin lovers and collectors–numismatists–perhaps there are alternate hobbies to consider.

A colleague once told me that “If you watch your pennies, the dollars will follow”–and that may be some good investement advice, but in a 24/7 society and after decades of inflation, there isn’t enough time or room to collect all the pennies we would need to make much of a difference.

ABC News reports that while our northern brother, Canada, got rid of the penny in 2012, we still make something like 5 billion of these useless things a year.

Full disclosure: my first job in Washington, D.C. was for the U.S. Mint, and while there were good things about it, I could never feel good about the mission–it just had no purpose. 😉

All Opinions my own.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Maura Teague)

>Paper Catalogs Have Seen Their Day

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Every day in the mail comes oodles of consumer catalogs: printed on quality stock paper, glossy, and many almost as thick as the community phone book.

Often, right in the mailroom, there is a huge recycle bin and there just about everybody drops the catalogues from their mailbox straight into the “trash.”

Who needs these expensive and wasteful printed catalogues that typically go from mailbox to recycle bin or garbage can without anyone even breaking the binding on them? With the Internet, the same information—and more—is available online. Moreover, online, you can comparison shop between stores for the best prices, shipping, and return policies, and you can typically get product and vendor ratings too to make sure that you are not buying a dud from a dud!

Despite this, according to the Wall Street Journal, 16 October 2009, “more than 17 billion catalogs were mailed in the U.S. last year–about 56 for every American.”

Read again—56 for every American! This is obscene.

Here are some basic statistics on the wastefulness of these catalogs:

“Catalogs account for 3% of the roughly 80 million tons of paper products.”

“Making paper accounted for 2.4% of U.S. energy use in 2006.”

“The paper typically used in catalogs contains about 10% recycled content…far less than paper in general, which typically contains about 30%…[and] for newspapers, the amount of recycled content is roughly 40%.”

“The average U.S catalog retailer reported mailing about 21 million catalogs in 2007.”

“The National Directory of Catalogs…lists 12,524 catalogs.”

YET…

“Only 1.3% of those catalogs generated a sale.”

So why do printed paper catalogs persist?

Apparently, “because glossy catalog pages still entice buyers in a way that computer images don’t.” Moreover, marketers say that catalogs at an average cost of slightly over a $1.20 each “drive sales at web sites.”

And of course, the U.S. Postal Service “depends on catalogs as an important source of revenue.”

However, in the digital era, it is time for us to see these paper catalogs get converted en-mass into e-catalogs. Perhaps, a paper copy can still be made available to consumers upon request, so those who really want them and will use them, can still get them, but on a significantly more limited basis.

Sure, catalogs are nice to leaf through, especially around the holiday time. But overall, they are a profligate waste of money and a drain on our natural resources. They fill our mailboxes with mostly “junk” and typically are completely unsolicited. With the advent of the Internet, paper catalogs are “overcome by events” (OBE), now that we have vast information rich, e-commerce resources available online, all the time.

Normally, I believe in taking a balanced approach to issues, and moderating strong opinions. However, in this case, we are talking about pure waste and harm to our planet, just because we don’t have the capacity to change.

We need to stop persisting in the old ways of doing business when they are no longer useful. This is just one example of those, and business that don’t transition to digital modernity in a timely fashion risk becoming obsolete along with their catalogs that go from the mailbox right into the trash.