Wednesday, June 13, 2007

If they really cared about the environment

Our useless government would ban all unsolicited mail.

In an average week I get about four offers of credit cards, half a dozen insurance companies telling me I'd be stupid not to use their service, a couple of estate agents encouraging me to sell my house (even though I don't actually own it) and numerous other useless junk letters. One of the worst culprits is government itself, in various local and national guises. They and their quangos love nothing more than to bombard me with expensively printed full colour leaflets telling me how creatively they are spending my money.

Then there's the free newspapers. Well, papers maybe; there's no news in them, just advertisements. I'm sure they have a place in society, but shoved through my letterbox every week is not it. I hate all kinds of push marketing, from unwanted phone calls to proselytising Jehovah's Witnesses knocking on my door. If I need a service or a product, I'll go looking for advertising; don't throw it at me in the hope it might stick.

Like spam email, these things obviously work well enough to justify their cost, otherwise the marketeers would have given up and moved on to some other method of shifting product. But the cost of printing, and the price of postage, doesn't begin to measure the true impact of the deluge of junk mail that passes swiftly through this household.

I recycle as much as I can, but anything with my name and address on it gets shredded and fed to the compost heap monster. Even so, there's an enormous amount of energy wasted in the production of fliers, and in carting around the extra weight when poor old postie's doing his rounds. It's not unusual for days to pass when I get nothing but junk mail. If the Royal Mail didn't have to deliver the stuff, then they could save a fortune by just not coming here at all.

But of course they'd be out the postage costs, which would put them even closer to financial collapse than they already are. Printing firms, and marketing specialists would be up in arms if direct, unsolicited mailing was illegal. But I can't help thinking they'd soon find other ways to make a living. The main reason that no government would ever pass such environmentally sound legislation is a simple one: they couldn't make any money out of it.

So instead we get ever higher taxes on fuel and personal transport justified in the name of being green. You can't complain about these plundered billions, because that's just being selfish and not caring about the planet. Look at the children. How can you be so heartless? But where does the money go? In the ten years since Labour came to power, they've raised half a trillion pounds from motorists. That's five hundred billion pounds - more then even Mr Gates has. And how much of that has been invested in environmentally friendly technology? Fuck all is how much. There aren't even decent tax breaks to encourage private enterprise to come up with solutions. It's all been frittered away on projects more likely to get the politicians re-elected.

In truth, politicians of all flavours (except possibly the greens) have only recently awoken to the environment as a political plaything, and I am constantly staggered by the mixture of stupidity and brass neck they display in relation to it. The Conservatives want to introduce Green Taxes to stop us from farting or eating too much beef, but if they are serious about reducing our carbon footprint, and successful in their attempts, then their tax revenue is going to decrease. Brilliant thinking. Who's going to pay for the NHS when we're all driving zero emission vehicles?

Labour want us to reduce the amount of waste we produce, but instead of encouraging manufacturers and retailers to package their products more sensibly, they try instead to charge us more for collecting rubbish. If that doesn't increase fly-tipping then I will eat a week's worth of what I normally throw out.

The more I look at our elected and wannabe officials, the more cynical I get. When someone actually suggests something that might help, rather than just one more way to raise taxes, then I might regain a little respect for our leaders. Banning all unsolicited marketing would be a good place to start.

I don't expect that to happen anytime soon.

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Blogger Sandra Ruttan said...

Here here! It's so bad, Lenscrafter sends us two copies of the exact same stuff, about half a dozen times a year, because we both got glasses there. Um, how many pairs of glasses do they think we need in the average year? Truly, ridiculous. Waste of money, and very bad on the environment.

I suppose in our case the government considers the gain of postage costs, or something idiotic like that.

June 13, 2007 6:07 pm  
Blogger JamesO said...

Technically speaking, that's solicited mail - you bought something from them so now they own your soul. I must get a telephone directory sized catalogue from Viking stationery supplies about once a month, and a slimmer volume every week, all because I once bought some box files from them.

Which reminds me, I must email them and get taken off the mailing list.

June 13, 2007 7:17 pm  
Blogger Sandra Ruttan said...

True, although the stack of unsolicited stuff is miles high. Most of it I don't remember because I never had anything to do with the business in question.

Banned unsolicited mail would reduce our intake by half, I'd guess. Maybe more.

June 14, 2007 12:26 am  

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