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.”

Travelling Lite

Ed Gillespie, co-founder of Futerra, an environmental consultancy, travelled around the world taking more than one year using “slow travel” options wherever possible, and trying to avoid flights during his 45,000-mile 381-day odyssey which (on his calculations) consumed just 1.8 tonnes of carbon. During his trip, he wrote a mostly weekly column for The Observer, and will be publishing a book about his trip during 2008.

Mark Smith is “The Man in Seat 61”.“I'm a career railwayman who ran away from Oxford to join the circus (or British Rail as it was then called) as soon as he could... I became the Station Manager for Charing Cross, London Bridge & Cannon Street railway stations in London in the early to mid 90s, and later the Customer Relations Manager for two major UK train companies. Until recently, I worked in London for the Department for Transport managing the team that regulates fares and ticketing on Britain's railways. When not travelling, of course...

I've been lucky enough to travel around the world on trains and ships to many interesting places, and I've worked as a European rail agent issuing tickets and advising other travel agents on train travel across Europe. So if you'd like some help with a journey you're planning, why not ask the Man in Seat Sixty-One...?

Why 'The Man in Seat Sixty-One'...? It's Eurostar's fault... I've left London by Eurostar on my way to Marrakech (via Paris, Madrid & Algeciras), to Tunisia (via Lille & Marseille), to Italy, to Albania, to Malta, to Istanbul, Aleppo, Damascus & Petra, to Ukraine & the Crimea, and even to Tokyo & Nagasaki via Moscow, Vladivostok and the Trans-Siberian Railway. Zaharoff, the notorious arms dealer, would always book compartment 7 on the Orient Express. When travelling in Eurostar 1st class, I always ask for seat 61 (in cars 11, 7 or 8). Before you ask, it's one of a pair of individual seats with table that actually lines up with the window...”

Need help ideas for planning your low carbon holiday? Ask the Man in Seat 61. is a personal website, started by Mark Smith purely as a hobby in 2001. It's grown and now become a full time job. It’s not a company or a travel agency, just an individual sharing knowledge that others might find useful. All the information on the website is provided free of charge to users, with the aim of providing sound practical advice to help people make journeys by train or ship instead of flying, affordably, comfortably and safely.

The site will help you if you can't find what you need through normal commercial websites or travel agencies. It also aims to inspire you to do something more rewarding with your travel than going to an airport, getting on am international airliner, missing out on all the scenery below and trashing the environment at the same time. “There's more to travel than the destination. It used to be called a journey!” is a travel agency offering travel options that exclude flying. So if you want to go somewhere by rail (Including by electrified high speed rail) or by small ship (cargo or passenger), then check them out. They have a price promise to refuynd any difference if you can find the same travel product cheaper somewhere else.

LoCo2 is a website which is “attempting to put the mental in environmental”. Its aim is to make low carbon travel fun, accessible and ultimately cheaper. The website is just starting up, and aims to inspire with ideas for travel by airship, supertanker, long-distance rail or to some wonderful European festivals. Go loco at:

Nominate a journalist for the Churner Prize

Journalists are becoming “churnalists”. Denied the time, money and resources to do the job properly, many hacks now churn out stories from press releases without even bothering to check the facts or their sources.

But it’s not all their fault, as often their editor is demanding that they deliver too much right now on a budget which is just too small. Your press release might just arrive when they are desperate for some interesting information to fill a space.

This phenomenon of turning PR into journalism “churnalism” is worth celebrating, even if it is only to highlight the depths that journalism can sink to.

With this in mind, a new website has been created. This website will display examples of bad churnalism and The Churner Prize will be offered from time to time to the most deserving recipients. Note that this is a pun on The Turner Prize, which is the UK’s most presitigious annual fine art award.

They need your help. If you spot an example of churnalism, email them the details. Your anonymity is 100% guaranteed. If you’re a journalist on the churn, then confess; this will ease the soul.