Michael Williams: Readers' editor

Bags of news – and greener at the checkout

Share

He may have been the "Napoleon of dullards" delivering a Budget "so boring he even stupefied himself", as one commentator put it, but the Chancellor had some
Independent readers excitedly popping off emails last week.

"Now that the Government is to outlaw plastic bags, isn't it time for newspapers like you to stop wrapping your sections in polythene? As a paper that claims to be eco-friendly, 'The Independent' isn't setting a very good example, is it?" emails Anne Nichols from Farnborough. "How about a tax on the plastic wrappers around newspapers?" suggests Duncan Clark from Knutsford.

Can't think that would be popular with readers, Mr Clark. But we've all seen the poignant pictures of rare turtles choking on polythene waste. Plastic bags are the visible sign of our impotence as individuals to do much about the environment, and Mr Darling is reflecting a clear national will to get rid of them.

Even so, the case against them is not entirely proven. A bag tax in Ireland actually led to five times more plastic being used overall, since people now demand heavier "bags for life". A bigger charge is that the bags ban is tinkering at the edges. Plastic wrapping comprises only about 3 per cent of domestic waste in the UK and some environmentalists believe getting fixated on it encourages people to take their eye off the bigger issues.

But why do we need our newspapers to be swathed in plastic? The 'Independent' titles are not unique in this. Even the 'Daily Mail', which campaigned for the bags ban, wraps itself in plastic at weekends. Our circulation manager tells me that our weekend sales would fall substantially if we had manually to insert all the sections, due to delays in getting papers to the newsagent. And the wrapping stops the bits falling out – one of the biggest sources of reader complaints.

There's some good news on the way, though. Although the plastic currently used is recyclable through council and supermarket schemes, The Independent is trialling a wrapper made from cellulose, which is compostable and biodegradable.



t Few lessons seem to have been learnt from the thoughtless coverage of the recent cluster of suicides in Bridgend. Now we have another high-profile death – that of Michael Todd, the Greater Manchester police chief. As there is overwhelming clinical evidence that people will "copy" suicides at popular spots like Snowdon, I cannot see why we continue to put the lives of the vulnerable on the line.

Corrections and clarifications

In "Hero or Villain" (2 March), we published an illustration of Saffron Aldridge, rather than of Saffron Burrows. This was due to an agency error. Our apologies to both for not spotting the error.

Message Board: What happened to the white working class?

Last week's coverage of working-class culture, education, housing and jobs in contemporary Britain prompted views from all sides:

Hobgoblin

As our industry has gone down the plughole, so has the working class disappeared. There are still plenty of poor people. It's not a class-ridden country any more: it's like the US, divided by filthy lucre.

flipped

Er, wasn't that always the case? What we now have in Britain is an oligarch class, managerial/administrative class, workers and an underclass who are unemployable.

Speranza

The working class has been left battered and demoralised and brutalised by the social and economic policies adopted by every government since 1979. Thatcherism did it, end of story.

Fluin

Thatcherist economics provided the tools, multiculturalism the ideology. Urban redevelopment and the destruction of community cohesion left young white working classes confused and demoralised.

James, Bath

Despite all the accusations the author levels at our destructive and incompetent lefty elite, he says he's still going to vote for them. How far is it possible for the liberals' misguided tribal loyalty to stretch?

Wiredchop

Why the fixation with using traditional, outdated labels? People living on benefits – how can they be working class when they don't work? The debate needs to go beyond old-fashioned stereotypes.

Lin

Are all liberals, like Tim Lott, aware of the degrading treatment meted out to those who were once the 'boiler house' of our society?

J Hayward

Factories, where ancestors toiled respectably in engineering and manufacturing, have been supplanted by soulless retail parks, which pay out the minimum hourly rate. UK working class RIP.

To have your say on this or any other issue visit www.independent.co.uk/IoSblogs

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £45,000

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a solutions / s...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Kennedy campaign for the Lib Dems earlier this year in Bearsden  

Charles Kennedy: A brilliant man whose talents were badly needed

Baroness Williams
Nick Clegg (R) Liberal Democrat Leader and former leader Charles Kennedy MP, joined the general election campaign trail on April 8, 2010  

Charles Kennedy: The only mainstream political leader who spoke sense

Tim Farron
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific