Local Press, Communications and Waste /2
In Dubai, we got used to receive tons and tons of flyers, menus for delivery, business cards...brought directly to each and everyone's doors. Sometimes the same flyers on a weekly basis, and sometimes a few copies of the same simultaneously (I am not going to touch upon the fact that menu deliverers most probably didn't have a choice and had other concerns than environmental ones in mind...).
However, I had made a rough calculation based on gathering the papers over a certain period of time (but I have to apologize, I do not remember the exact numbers). By multiplying, averaging and extrapolating the number of flyers, with the number of pages (both-sided), with the number of weeks, I quickly ended with at least one pack of 500 A4 paper sheets per apartment per year. In our tower, you could count 4 apartments over 42 floors. I'll pass the calculations over the entire residence; but knowing also that most would go to the bin and straight to the landfill....here you go.
And while this made me mad for a while...I did nothing. Well, i did collect paper and brought it to recycling....But that's all. And this is why I am now very crtitical about the overwhelming number of pages that could be not printed and wasted, should local newspapers check the demand of the local household here.
Two weeks ago, I opened a little survey to understand whether the local German-speaking newspapers that are given to each household in Zug are read by the expat community in Zug. I started with certains assumptions of course:
- I clearly targeted the expat community in Zug using social media to share the survey in English, on English-speaking groups.
- I expected language would be an important barrier.
I left the survey open for 14 days and I have received a total of 62 answers. Here are the key results, which then were not surprising:
- 95 % of the respondents receive at home free local newspapers.
- Out of them, 77% do not read them at all.
- 53% explain that they do not read them because they do not speak/read German. 9% do not have the time to do it, 5% are not interested in local content. Other 17% explain that they give it a try to read the paper-based or online news, but sporadically and thus mainly because of language or time constraints.
- Most readers are interested in local events mainly.
- 72% would also change their mind and read them if (some) content was available in English.
- 2/3 of the readers would proactively unsuscribe if they knew how to proceed.
- At last, the great majorityof respondents (94%) discard the newspapers into the recycling bin.
I have done some (very poor) statistical work to extrapolate the problem and figure out how much printing could be prevented (which means less transport-related emissions, paper use and waste management). I am fully aware of the methodology and statistical limitations: despite the information provided by the public authorities (demographic statistics, share of foreigners, ...) in Canton Zug, it is obviously impossible through the basic survey I designed to have an idea of the exact nationality of households, the language they speak, the number of people that have placed a sticker to block advertizing and free press, etc....: this should be part of the market study the newspapers should have in place. The number of responses was also much too small compared to the overall population I targeted.
So clearly, the above and below results highlight a very broad trend, rather than very detailed results. To proceed, I have crossed the above results with the entire number of households and the share of non-Swiss households in Zug (27,5%). Again, these assumptions are surely very general.
The Zuger Presse is very proud to reach out to around 55,000 households weekly (meaning, one copy per household), with a penetration of advertizing of 94% of the households in Canton Zug (data from 2015). Based on this above-mentioned scope, if 77% of these households would not read it, it (broadly) means that more than 11,000 copies could be avoided. On week of 16 November, Zuger Woche had 15 pages (A3, double-sided colour print), Zuger Press 8 pages. That roughly means that these 2 newspapers could have prevented paying, printing and transporting around 261,000 A3 pages in total = 1,044 packs of 500 A4 paper.
What comes next, you'll ask me?
Well, the plan is to contact both newspapers' redactions using the above results, and try to raise awareness on their ecological footprint and direct feedback from the local inhabitants. Also, as one respondent commented, such newspapers should be ideal platforms to promote positive integration in the canton, and they could therefore be invited to include some content directed to the non-German speaking community.
What could be done?
In the meantime, what could we do as responsible households?
- Stick a good old "Keine Werbung bitte!" on your mailbox. It won't prevent printing, but waste management will remain with either the newspapers or the postal services.
- Keep on recycling what you receive, systematically.
- Let's figure out how to unsuscribe...
To be continued on this space, when I receive some feedback...