Green or Greenwashing Kit?

Looking for another fun way to teach environmental stewardship to your kids?  The United States Postal Service offers a plastic-wrapped kit to help your family go green.  You might want to think twice before buying it.

I paid $16.95 for the Go Green Family Activity Kit that included $6.60 worth of stamps with environmental messages, a small stationery pad lined for children, and a poster.  The kit also includes an access code for three of the four online games.  The kit is recommended for children age 6 to 10.

On the upside, the kit certainly spreads a positive message and could maybe fit into a curriculum (disclaimer:  I am not a teacher, just my opinion as a parent).  When you go online, you can use the one free and three pre-paid video games as well as taking an educational quiz.

Here's the downside:  I think the kit is worth about half of what I paid for it, including mainly the stamps and stationary.  Maybe $10 at the most.  The poster looks nice, and is along the order of something that used to be given away for free.  The tips are pretty basic, including turning off lights when you leave the room and making sure water faucets don't drip.  If your kid is already 6 years old and hasn't heard those messages about a million times, what kind of parent are you?  It avoids tips that address conscious consumer choices like watching out for excess packaging or buying less stuff.  The kit boasts that it was printed using wind power, which sounds really cool.  It makes no mention of the type of ink used, and it says it's printed on 30% recycled stock.  Why not all or nearly all recycled paper? Another blogger or two have already noted that the postal service promotes green messages on its stamps while still being very direct mail friendly for those who want to send out mass printings of catalogs.  A visit to the Go Green website will even include an invitation to sign up for the Postal Service's own philatelic catalog.

The thriftiest and greenest way to use this resource is to simply go online to and use the free quiz and educational game already provided, then make some homemade stationery from paper you already have at home.

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