The Blog

Free Papers Are Costing the Earth

There is something irresistible about a free newspaper or magazine. Human nature is such that we can't help but pick them up, regardless of their quality or our capacity to consume them. And the more we take, the more the publishers see fit to produce, a logic that has led to an unprecedented rise in the circulation of these so-called 'freemium' titles.

In London alone, five of the biggest freemiums - the Evening Standard, City A.M., Time Out, ShortList and Stylist- distribute nearly 5.5 million copies per week between them, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. That's a whole lot of paper, and a whole lot of waste if they aren't re-cycled.

And, the reality of the situation is that, a lot of the time, these fremiums aren't re-cycled. People have a terribly tendency to throw them in the bin, leave them on the tube or simply drop them in the street. It is inevitable; the less we pay for something the less we value it, less care we take of it and less time we spend deliberating how to part ways with it.

As a voracious consumer of free media, not to mention an advocate of the print tradition, I wouldn't want to discourage anyone from picking up a free magazine or newspaper. I'd just urge you, if you do pick one up, to dispose of it responsibly.

It is easy to think that what you do doesn't make much of a difference in the scheme of things. But, I assure you, it does. According to Leeds Paper Recycling, recycling one six-foot stack of newspapers saves the life of one 35-foot tree. Imagine how many trees we could save if everyone in London re-cycled each and every freemium that they picked up. That would make a major difference.