Recycling takes a hit.

A depressing indictment of the Londoner's mindsetI saw a recycling lorry the other day with the boldly-emblazoned fact across it that it takes a forest the size of Wales each year to produce the UK’s paper requirements.  I’d go further than that. I’d say it takes a forest the size of Wales to produce the paper requirements solely for stuff given away free outside Holborn station each year. I’m a little tempted to undertake an experiment where I take everything that’s offered to me as I leave in the morning or exit in the evening. I could easily get:

  • 5 copies of Metro
  • 15 copies of London Lite
  • 15 copies of thelondonpaper
  • 1 copy of Epoch Times
  • 1 HotCourses
  • 1 Shortlist
  • 1 London Careers
  • 1 Sport magazine
  • a bunch of flyers about random tat, cooking lessons, life coaching et al.

I might actually do this next week, I’ll let you know how it goes, and will be measuring my pile. I’ll have to work out the risks of this possibly: the best thing I’ve had from Holborn was a free (if diddy) cup of Starbucks coffee, which, although Starbucks and therefore comparatively rancid in the coffee-drinking stakes, was still coffee.

Reviews to follow.

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One Response

  1. Why not take part in the experiment along with others in London?

    Project Freesheet has been charting the effect of free papers throughout London and is in the process of planning another ‘Walkabout’ where people gather discarded free papers over the course of a single day.

    The impact of free papers, not least in encouraging tabloid journalism and a throwaway attitude to the value of ‘news’, has been eloquently described by Jon Hughes of the Ecologist:

    “Just as there is no such thing as a free lunch, there is no such thing as a free newspaper when given out in such a ‘homeless’ manner. You will be paying for your supposedly free paper through your taxes, for it either to be landfilled, or worse, through the creation of an incinerator on your doorstep. Across the world, scores of these highly polluting destructor units are being planned, because burying our burgeoning waste in landfill is no longer an option.

    The methane released is hastening climate warming. Publishers have been allowed free rein to create more litter on the streets, and a corresponding waste disposal problem.

    The more sinister side of the freesheet phenomenon is its ultimate impact on paid for newspapers. The current crop of freesheets are aimed at those who are too busy to read a newspaper or have no inclination to buy one. Rather than address the reason why the paying public is shunning their products, newspaper publishers are seeking to create revenue by numbers alone. Advertisers will be seduced with the argument that while only half a million editions of say, Metro, are published, readership will be well over a million because it is dumped on the public transport system.

    Freesheets such as Metro et al operate on very tight margins. As they become more nationally embedded, whole elements of them will become syndicated, beginning with TV pages and pop gossip through to national and international news. They might tell you the what, but not the why or the how. Investigations and campaigns will become rarer than they are now; Coverage of politics above the tittle-tattle of personality, less and less.

    To supply the newsprint on which all this trash is printed, whole swathes of Europe are being turned over to plantation forests, which is wiping out bio-diversity.

    If the publishers of the freesheets want to continue the production of their products they should at the very least be made to deliver to homes, where there is an increased likelihood that they will be recycled, rather than carpet-bombing pedestrians.”

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