The leftward and other blatherings of Span (now with Snaps!)

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

an end to junk?

Over at Philosophically Made, Stephen has posted about the North Shore Council's intention to smack letterbox leafleters, and expresses concern about what this will mean for political material.

I have to say that the NSC approach worries me too. I hate all that stupid junk mail that we get through the letterbox - sometimes we get several copies of the same thing as we are at the end of the street. The vast majority goes straight into the recycling, which makes me feel slightly virtuous, but the reality is that there is far more waste paper that is being recycled than recycled paper products demanded. We seriously need to stop producing so much crap, and not just in paper form, even if the materials are recyclable. The focus should be on buying things made from recycled stuff.

But I digress.

The point of this post is that I feel I can't put up a "No Junk Mail please, we're greenish" sign because then I would miss out on the political propaganda. And I really really want even those bizarre Wake Up New Zealand pamphlets and The Jesuits are Coming scare-monger sheets.

When I was leafleting for Laila in Waitakere in 2002 there was a heated argument amongst campaigners about whether we should respect or ignore the No Junk signs. There was a school of thought that political material is not junk (essential to the democracy of our nation, etc) while the other side argued that we didn't want to piss people off by putting stuff in their letterboxes - we simply couldn't afford to lose a single vote.

Are those with No Junk signs saying no to everything? And what makes the political deliverer any different from your average commercial leafleter (usually a school kid) if we think Our Junk is better than Their Junk?

Perhaps the political parties should all front up some dosh to do a leaflet drop to every household warning that generic No Junk signs will not be respected unless they specifically exclude an interest in democracy? ;-)


BerlinBear said...

I reckon I would come down on the side of "political material is not junk". I would certainly hope to receive party leaflets if I had one of those signs on my letterbox.

That said, I could name a few parties whose material I *would* consider junk and would treat accordingly.

In other words, it's an interesting and tricky point you raise.

Rich said...

I've never had any form of political leaflet - just community papers (mostly written by the literacy challenged) and estate agents crap..

Graham Watson said...

maybe political material should only be permitted in no junk mail boxes if it was on recycled material. This could solve a couple of issues, and would lead to many Greens buying no junk mail signs.

span said...

Rich - you must live in a rock solid party electorate with a low voter turnout and a complacent local MP ;-)

you must be joking GPJ, although actually that's a good idea - let's not restrict it to political material though, that only does the rounds infrequently - all junk mail would have to have a certain percentage of recycled paper in it, say 75%. That would also mean a reduction in those glossy leaflets which are extra hard to recycle.