And the Loser is…the Environment

2 mins read
A bunch of items that are on display

Some candidates blame the profusion of political flyers stuffing our mailboxes this year on the transition of local election cycles changing to coincide with general state election timelines. Others cite the proliferation of mail-in and early voter activity.

Whatever the reason, everyone’s noticed.

Which brings us to the question: How can this activity justify the candidates’ universally-touted statements on greenhouse warming, carbon-free zones, solar energy, etc?

Most of us repurpose campaign flyers straight into the recycle bin just after we’ve read the candidate’s position on climate change. We assume that by recycling, we give back a bit to the trees that were felled to make the flyers and the carbon-emitting vehicles used to deliver them.

So, does a flyer that is buried beneath hundreds of others influence the digital and tech-savvy voter in our decision-making process? Even our own Local News Pasadena statistics confirm that people read 40 percent of our information on their phones and 60 percent on their desktops. While we now get most of our information in a digital format, it could be that print flyers have gone the way of ever-struggling print media. Did someone say, “Save local news?”

While you were tossing-out those flyers, did you notice the recycle logo right next to the infinitesimally small emblem indicating that soy ink was used? Even Hewlett-Packard, one of the largest printer and ink manufacturers in the world, has large climate-worthy disclaimers about paper and ink usage on all their products that our local politicians might consider for the November elections:

  • Choose from a wide variety of HP papers with FSC® or PEFC™ certification, which indicates that the paper pulp came from a reputable and well-managed source.
  • Conserve resources—look for paper made with recycled content.
  • Recycle your Original HP LaserJet toner cartridges—it’s easy and free with the HP Planet Partners program, available in more than 50 countries and territories worldwide.

While researching this article, our favorite story was reported by in Seneca Falls, Texas. It seems that during the 2023 races, a giant waste company allocated excessive funds to flood the community with negative campaign flyers, hoping to purge the Seneca Falls town board of its landfill critics. Hey, its Texas. And as the great journalist Molly Ivins used to say, “I never saw anything funnier than Texas politics.”

But we digress. Printing and distributing 10,000 campaign mailers typically generates around five tons of carbon, according to calculations by Sustainable Tallahassee, a Florida nonprofit that promotes recycling. That’s a bit more than a gasoline-powered car emits in an average year, per data from the Environmental Protection Agency. So, nationwide, if there are X number of candidates producing Y number of flyers, to be distributed to Z number of voters, well, you can do the math.

It seems the best we can hope is that Local News Pasadena readers will, digitally, share this article with others and consider the planet before printing.

Stay tuned for our commentary on the purchase of 70,000 plastic eggs by the City of Pasadena for the Rose Bowl Egg Hunt next month.

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Sheryl Turner

Sheryl is Local News Pasadena's Publisher and Pasadena Media Foundation's Founder. When not saving local news, she devotes her spare time to finding the best meatloaf in town.
Email: [email protected]

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