STOP PRESS: Please Stop Sending Me Unwanted Newspapers
When I was a child there was something exciting about the local paper.
This was a time when we read magazines with avid fascination, when we paid money to read the print inside a newspaper, when there was no online access, certainly no Facebook -- and Twitter was only the sound that birds made. Getting anything for free was a big deal, but getting a whole newspaper was epic.
My neighbourhood paper featured local school news so there was always that feeling of suspense when you paged through to see if your school got a mention and huge bonus points if there were photographs. Off the scale excitement when the photo was of someone you knew -- or even yourself.
When I came to live in Australia the local newspaper was way fancier than that of my childhood.
This was not a black and white printed tabloid, but a glossy magazine-style paper full of shiny pictures of expensive homes and classified ads. This was a time before online classifieds like Airtasker and Gumtree. There was no click-and-search of properties for sale in your area where you could download a picture of every room in the house plus a floor plan and a panoramic guided video tour.
This was a time before you could log on and look up the local news and weather. Before you had to read the surf report a week in advance because there was no beach cam to show you exactly what was happening with the waves. The local newspaper was actually quite helpful.
Back then the papers were being produced at a time when we weren’t aware of the impact we were making on the climate. We didn’t think of the ink or the trees being cut down. And when the paper came wrapped in plastic to protect it from the rain we were delighted that it wasn’t too soggy to read.
But time has moved on. The way we consume news has changed completely.
And still the local paper keeps coming, whether you want it or not.
You can read all your news online, you can even read the actual edition of the newspaper online -- but the physical pages still arrive at your front door. The difference is that there is no longer anything in that paper that is news -- because it’s printed a week before it’s delivered and these days it’s more of a selection of glossy ads and messages from the local council.
It is a glorified catalogue that you can’t opt out of. And when it rains it comes wrapped in that special one use plastic that is ruining our oceans and killing our fish.
The only reason I know when the local newspaper is delivered is because I see the papers in their plastic wrapping strewn across the pavements. Nobody has asked for the paper and no one is reading it.
I know this because the next day the sodden papers are still there, although the conscientious amongst us open the plastic, put the paper straight into recycling and take the soft plastic to be recycled.
The paper basically goes from production to recycling (hopefully) so the publishers can tell advertisers that their publication has been seen by thousands of people and this way they can charge them more to fill their pages.
Sometimes (most times) capitalism is just putrid.
I know change is hard. I know we feel sad print is being replaced and our empathy stretches to the poor delivery person who would be out of a job if we were no longer to receive these colourful ad bundles.
(It should be noted the most delivery people get paid per bundle not per hour so may dump the whole load somewhere on their journey because the pay is so dismal anyway).
I know some people still like to look at the scores of the local rugby club and they want to see which houses are for sale -- but I also know they can do this online.
Our environment and the inevitable waste of resources has to be more important than some advertising blumph delivered to our doorsteps. And if you really want to read what’s happening in your local area you can read it on your computer or, more likely, your phone -- just like you are reading this (with extra smug points for helping to save the planet).
Also, don't even get me started on catalogues...
Featured Image: HBO