By RYANNA QUAZI
Lewisville nonprofit Committee of Lewisville’s Environmental Action Neighbors began an initiative last summer to keep unwanted newspapers off of private property. They now want people to know the EPA is on their side, after receiving a letter in support of their efforts.
According to representatives of CLEAN, especially with the recent rain in the area, the unwanted newspapers build up in waterways and drains, holding a great risk for the environment.
“The only way we can fight (the publishers)— we can’t do it through fiat (through laws), we do it by shaming (the advertisers) contributing to their welfare, because they’re contributing to the pollution,” said Colonel Mason, executive secretary of CLEAN.
CLEAN’s website has a list of businesses that advertise with publishers such as the Dallas Morning News, Al Dia (a Spanish language newspaper) and The Lewisville Leader. CLEAN aims to shame these companies into stopping advertising with publishers who throw unsolicited newspapers on to private property.
CLEAN encourages businesses to pledge to stop advertising with these publications and fill out a pledge form available on the website. Afterwards the businesses will be taken off of the “polluting list” and added to the “pledged list”
Mason said that the newspaper problem is a result of the business model of the newspaper industry itself. Mason also said publishers often exaggerate their circulation, so that the publishers can charge their advertisers more money.
“They want everyone to want their papers, but they don’t have a way of knowing, so they have the subscriptions. But then they throw out hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of free papers, hoping that somebody would subscribe,” explained Mason “Or if nothing else, it puffs their circulation, so even though they may only have 3,000 readers subscribe, they throw out 10,000 papers so they can go back and tell their advertisers, ‘you’re paying 10,000 circulation’.”
Mason said ultimately his concern is the method of throwing the newspaper. If it was done in a different way that didn’t have an adverse effect on the environment, then he would not have a problem.
“If it came in the mail, I wouldn’t be complaining,” said Mason. “No I don’t care if it comes in the mail.”
Jack Bishop, the cofounder of CLEAN, also said that he is upset about the newspaper buildup.
“We both have degrees of physical disabilities,” said Bishop, referring to himself and Mason. “We both are over seventy. For five or six years my wife tried to get these off of our lawn,” said Bishop.
Bishop said he had even seen papers thrown to vacant lots in other suburbs in the Dallas area.
Last year, Mason contacted city officials to take action on the trash newspaper issue, including Council Member Leroy Vaughn.
“A citizen came forward with a serious issue for him,” said Vaughn. “We came up with a resolution that met his needs.”
According to Vaughn, after Mason’s complaints, a city inspector went to pick up the newspapers from Mason’s lawn. However, the city realized that it could not just do this for one person.
The Lewisville City Council passed a non-binding newspaper litter resolution last summer calling on publishers to ensure that delivery avoids ill effects. However, according to Vaughn, there was some opposition as the city attorney believed that any binding action against the publishers would infringe upon their first amendment rights. The resolution encourages publishers to stop distributing newspapers in a way that causes them to enter creeks and waterways. The resolution also notes that unwanted newspapers increase the risk for crime such as burglary.
CLEAN sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency describing their efforts. This past May, the EPA wrote a letter in response. On behalf of Gina McCarthy, administrator of the US EPA, Grace Robinson, chief of the marine pollution and control branch wrote:
“Thank you for your recent letter to Gina McCarthy, Administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), highlighting how the city of Lewisville has been targeting efforts to combat litter by unanimously adopting anti-litter resolution #4198-08-2015R I am responding to you on behalf of Administrator McCarthy,” wrote Robinson.
She further stated in the letter, “Thank you again for your efforts to target litter and prevent aquatic trash. Your efforts to improve our environment can and will make a difference.”
The Lewisville Leader did not respond to a request for comment on this story.
CLEAN can be contacted on the web at www.no-trash.com or by mail at PO Box 548, Lewisville, Texas 75067.
The Lewisville Texan Journal maintains an environmentally friendly newspaper distribution policy. The policy is available online here.
How to stop delivery of local unsolicited newspapers:
The Lewisville Leader
The Dallas Morning News / Briefing
Online form (Behind a paywall)