The 365 Ways Blog

Michael Norton is author of "365 Ways to Change the World", which provides an issue for each day of the year, interesting facts, inspiring case studies of people doing things to address the issue and ideas for action. Originally published in the UK, versions with local content have been published in Australia, Canada, India, South Africa and the USA. To find out more visit our website:

22 April 2008

The Newspaper House

One quite recent phenomenon is the emergence of the freesheet, a newspaper paid for through its advertising and given away for free. Over 40 million papers are being handed out on the streets every day around the world. London has three freesheets: Metro distributed on the tube (subway) system in the mornings, and London Lite and thelondonpaper handed out on the street in the afternoons.

Sometimes these are handed on for another person to read. But mostly they are thrown away, which is creating a growing waste mountain. Tube passengers in London discard approximately nine-and-a-half tonnes of freesheet newspapers every day.

Besides being a litter problem, these freesheets are also an environmental problem. The vast majority of the papers goes to landfill rather than being recycled.

Project Freesheet aims to highlight this growing problem. They want to see:
• An increased proportion of the paper used being recycled.
• A ban on the distributors handing them out.
• More collection points on the street paid for by the freesheets themselves (on the basis that the polluter should pay).

You can do two things to help:
• Sign the petition on the website. Add your voice to thousands of others protesting about this grotesque waste.
• Upload your photo of discarded freesheets which will contribute towards a collage on the website.

Project Freesheet has also been working with Creative City, which creates projects that engage artists with audiences. “We believe that Art can really engage people on issues that touch them. Our aim is to create high quality projects that are both publicly accessible and viable works of art in themselves.”

Around 100 volunteers gathered 10,000 copies of discarded papers which they then used to build a house in Dalston, north London, which was constructed entirely from discarded newspapers. The aim was to get some publicity for this waste problem and to heighten people’ consciousness of the issue such that they start to change their behaviour.

“Thinking about the way we live is not a trend but a necessity. It is essential that each member of the public starts to think about their impact on their environment and the world they are creating for their children. The Newspaper House aims to engage the audience in a fun, non-moralistic way.”


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