Rodney Graham doesn’t give up easily.
The Winnipeg-based environmental activist is currently on his fifth cross Canada trip in an effort to cut down on manufacturing and distribution of advertising mail, more commonly known as flyers or junk mail.
He is currently in Sault Ste. Marie for the first time, gathering signatures for a petition calling for flyer distributors to honour ‘No Flyers’ signs on residential and business doors.
Graham is hoping enough signatures can be gathered across the country to urge the federal government to enact legislation which would reduce the production of flyers and slap fines on those who drop flyers off at homes and businesses that don’t want them.
“I think that’s reasonable and I think the government can do that. They have talked to me on the phone a couple of times this year and they’ve never done that before,” said Graham, who told SooToday he has crusaded against unwanted flyers since 1995.
“Over the years I’ve probably gotten about 50,000 names on petitions,” said Graham, adding he’s gotten about two dozen signatures on his Sault petition so far.
“In Manitoba we cut down acres of trees to make pulp, to make flyers, and the quality of the newspaper that’s produced now is so bad they can recycle it three times and can’t recycle it anymore. With flyers, it takes three to four times the energy to recycle it than it does to produce it. Recycling is not working in regard to this. It’s just a monumental waste and nobody’s talking about it and it’s not on anyone’s radar,” Graham said.
Travelling across Canada in his minivan, Graham started his current trek in Winnipeg Aug. 8.
Graham said he intends to go to “every major city” in Canada, planning to visit communities he’s never seen before.
“This is my first time in Sault Ste. Marie. I’ve been here for two days now and might stay for a week. I’m not familiar with this city, but I haven’t seen one ‘no flyer’ sign. Maybe people here aren’t familiar with this issue.”
“As far as I know there are municipalities that do have bylaws regarding flyers, but only Montreal has a bylaw that’s strictly enforced. Where I’m from in Winnipeg there is a bylaw about it, but it isn’t enforced.”
Along with his door-to-door requests for residents to sign the petition, Graham provides ‘save our trees, no flyers please!’ stickers as well as contact information for the Canadian Marketing Association (CMA).
Graham said the CMA will remove your name from their database if you no longer wish to receive advertising mail.
Residents may contact the CMA online by phone at 1-866-580-3625, or by mail at 55 University Avenue, Suite 603, Toronto, Ontario, M5J 2H7.
“It takes a couple of years but you’ll stop getting phone calls and advertising letters. That’s a great service for Canadians,” Graham said.
More information can be found on Graham’s own website
“After I’m done with this trip I hope to hand this issue off to others,” said Graham, a 63-year-old retired forestry worker and forest firefighter who said he seeks out environmental activists on each of his stops.