Saving Trees – The Stupid Way

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Have you noticed that your magazines seem to be getting thinner and thinner?

The last paper and ink issue of PC Magazine

The image above may represent the wave of the future. And, I’m not talking about Windows 7.

I’ve subscribed to PC Magazine since it came out twenty-seven years ago. The issue shown above is the last to be printed on paper. Those with subscriptions are given the choice of continuing to receive the full content of the printed magazine via the internet or receiving a refund of their remaining subscription value. Those who choose to purchase at a newsstand are simply out of luck.

What a bummer! I like to sit in my chair with a beer and a cigar and read real ink on real paper. The magazine itself has gone from nearly 300 pages to less than 100, but it still contains a good deal of information that is of interest to me. I don’t want to sit at my computer at the office (where my consumption of questionable substances is severely constrained) and try to create a linear reading experience out of a web page. It’s NOT the same.

I want to save trees as much as the next guy. But, are we going to do it by destroying the printed publishing industry? Many people will simply stop reading periodicals.

What about all the people who have no means to connect to the internet? I can see the rationale for PC Magazine. They probably reckon that most all of their readers already have the capability to read the magazine online. However, I predict that within two years, the circulation of the magazine (the online version being the only option) will drop to practically nothing. Too many other computer magazines are still available that give the purchaser a genuine reading experience.

So what do I suggest? (as if anybody cares)

Treat magazines and newspapers like glass bottles that require a deposit. In many places, you now pay for the privilege of dumping your empties anywhere you like by paying up front. If you act responsibly and return the empty, you get a refund of your deposit.

If printed material that is normally disposed after reading (not books), had a recycle bonus attached to its cost (say, 10-15%), then people could save up stacks and return them to the seller for refunds or credit against purchases. There would be enough for everybody. The purchaser, after saving up a big stack, would find it worth the effort to return the paper for recycling. The seller would get a cut to make it worth his while. The recyclers would have reduced costs because there would be fewer pickup points. This is exactly the way it works in Canada for the bottle shops. You bring back your empties, get some cash, and use that to buy more.

Then we could continue to enjoy a genuine reading experience while saving our precious trees.

That’s my plan and I’m sticking to it.

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