Circulation figures for free newspapers have increased during 2021. However, this isn't the success story it first appears, because the extra copies are not being read by new subscribers. They are being picked up in bulk for use as fuel, for cooking and for warmth. This is because of the dramatic surge in energy prices.
Angelica and Anastasia (not their real names) agreed to talk to us about their use of free newspapers. Angelica says that the bus station and library are good sources of free papers, with copies of Mature Times, the Metro, property listings and right-on sustainable Eco papers all available. Strong bags are essential to carry the papers and its best to get there early before the commuters. It's good to take a note of publication days for weekly and monthly papers, so that you can get in first. Anastasia estimates that burning free newspapers saves her up to £5 a day in energy costs. She accepts that it isn't very eco-friendly, but shrugs and says 'I'm poor. What else can I do? I used to burn car tyres, but that was very smelly.'
Angelica's husband, Dwaynissimo (not his real name), is less keen on burning the papers and prefers to stuff them down his trousers, for insulation. He says that the Christmas double issue of the Shanklin Argos and Bugle will keep him warm until Easter.