Banks' Notes 30.06.06

Vancouver, British Columbia NEVER mind the gas-guzzling 4x4s everyone seems to drive over here, ignore for a moment the smoky barbecues and pesky patio heaters that are filling our lungs with filth and sending global temperatures soaring; address yourselves, instead, to this question: Are newspapers and magazines endangering the planet?

Put another way, has the publishing industry over-indulged itself and its readers to the point where we are felling more and more acres of Finnish forests and producing mile upon mile of printed guff to be rewarded with a diminishing return in terms of both circulation and consequent ad revenue? Of course, you don't have to be a tree-hugging greenie to ask questions like these, although, I'll admit, it does help being a poacher-turned-gamekeeper like me to hypocritically turn up the heat on today's big-game hunters.

More to the point, I led the charge in creating newspapers that opened like Russian dolls with more and more sections requiring heavily increased pagination and earlier, less flexible edition times. It was, I think, a largely fruitless attempt to attract back disaffected readers in the belief that success would entice advertisers to shun radio and internet alternatives and put money back into newspaper pockets.

Now here's where we get to the "If it takes a man three hours to fill a bath…" kind of question: according to Friends of the Earth, each tonne of newsprint destroys a dozen trees. According to the ABC figures, each edition of the Sunday Times sells 1.3 million copies.

And according to Mrs Banks's kitchen scales, each copy (plus bits and pieces) weighs 3.5lbs. Therefore, every week the Sunday Times accounts for around 21,000 trees.

[Editor's note: Have you gone bonkers, Banksy?] Quite possibly, driven to it by the fact that a couple of Saturdays ago I stood in my local newsagent and handed back (unread) 16 ounces of Guardian and 15 ounces of Daily Telegraph: property, travel and jobs, two advertortial holiday guides, a sports section (I prefer The Guardian's), 26 pages of postgraduate crap, two unwanted catalogues and a handful of shiny, free-standing inserts.

Yes, boss, I have been finally sent stark, raving bonkers. I had already patented two brilliant anti-waste campaigns: 1. Using their own prepaid envelopes, mix and return all junk mail to senders, having first appropriated all pens, pencils, calendars etc.

Christian Aid to Norwich Union, HSBC to Christian Aid, Norwich Union to HSBC. Get the picture?

2. Unwrap bulky items from their packaging outside stores like IKEA and Argos and place boxes and polystyrene in a neat pile by the shop's entrance before placing purchased item in the boot and driving home.

Now it's the turn of newspaper companies to feel the heat of my ire at the constant flow of unwanted material. I DON'T WANT IT!

What I DO want is some news, sport, finance, weather, a bit of fluff (no celebrity columnist need apply) and the TV programmes.

That's about the lot. Either that or I'll give you all a miss and pick up a free Metro instead… And when I've finished I'll leave it on the Tube for London Transport to dispose of.

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