Is swine flu advise (creating) a load of rubbish?

Filed in Blog by on May 11, 2009 15 Comments
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catch-it-bin-it-kill-itDid you all get your Department of Health 10 page, glossy swine ‘flu leaflet through the door last week?

We had ours on Friday. Although we have opted out of Royal Mail’s door-to-door service using JunkBuster, we are not immune from the leaflets the Government see as ‘essential’ for telling us about it would seem.

So let me get this right. Even though I have signed a declaration agreeing that I might miss out on ‘important information from local and national Government‘ through opting out of unaddressed mail (like car insurance quotes and double glazing incentives perhaps), they still manage to get the swine flu leaflet to me …

Furthermore, on page six of the leaflet we are told there is a simple way to protect ourselves and others against the ravages of ‘flu.

Apparently we have to Catch it, Bin It, Kill It.

Yes folks, we have to carry tissues, use clean ones to cover our mouths when we cough and sneeze and then “Bin the tissues after one use“.

So much for our lovely organic handkerchiefs then.

Well, I’m not going to tell anyone how to take care of their health; that’s up to you. But if you choose to follow the Government’s advise of using a tissue once and throwing it in the bin, at least purchase recycled tissues and remember to recycle the polythene packaging!

Read Greenpeace Forest Friendly tissue guide for more information on brands which are made from recycled paper.

The moral of the story? Go ahead and opt out of junk mail, because even though you have to sign an alarming declaration that you may miss out on important information from local and national Government; you won’t! They’ll deliver it to your door in all its glossy paged finery anyway.

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (15)

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  1. Sarah says:

    OK, so where’s the leaflet for the hidden epidemic that kills 2 women every week, causes 100 women every day to require medical attention? Where’s the panic for that?

    This hype over swine flu makes me so mad…..

  2. Poppy says:

    I was talking to a postie a few days ago and he told me that they as a whole, take little or no notice of opt-out notices. The objective when they walk in the door is to walk out of it again asap, so it’s a none stop prep, pack and out the door job. When faced with 500 odd calls, the last thing they are going to worry about is which individuals have expressed a wish not to recieve the household deliveries.

    I have a notice on my door and I find that that works better than a scrap of paper stuck in a frame in a delivery office.

    We haven’t had our ‘flu leaflet’ as yet, but I think we’ll cope just fine without it πŸ˜‰

  3. Sarah says:

    If we’ve had one the kids will have put it straight in the paper recycling….

  4. Carole says:


    The government (which is in quite enough trouble already it seems to me) are definitely on the back foot. It is all “react, react, react”. When are we going to have something proactive? Certainly in “green” issues, there seems to have been nothing helpful in ages.

    My late mother-in-law used to tell me that “We should all eat a little bit of dirt before we die.” A cheerful homily, but true in that if we continue to sterilise, fumigate, and generally “dettol” everything we come into contact with; how are we meant to build up a working immune system?

    In my everyday job, it’s ” Don’t send them into school if they have a cold; chicken pox; tonsilitis; whatever”

    It’s my firm belief that if you don’t come into contact with germs you will never build up a decent immune system. Combine a breastfed baby who is weaned onto a healthy diet and who gets plenty of fresh air and exercise with normal human contact and you have a child who has a good immune system whih will say “Boo” to any flu virus.


  5. Good advice here, plenty of room on this flu subject for expanding the understanding of general health management .

    Children are often so medicated, cleansed and coddled that they fall prey to the first hungry bug. Cloth, little paper, lots of water, little fever, lots of cooking herbs in soup, and bed rest would take care of most healthy persons.

    Fear and loathing erode the citizens instincts as much as anti-bacterial soaps and panic grate on the mind and body.

    Of course, the common-sense dispensed courtesy of your royal post is necessary…but could someone have thought of sending a radio/tele/newspaper/magazine social bulletin instead? Do it like the big boys in business, all media blitz, full color, big letters, can’t miss that and all electronic travel, no mileage on that one.

    That’s what school teachers are for and factory bosses, and churches, and all institutions where everyone congregates;
    the message was there long before the first glossy page was out of the presses, or the big truck rolled out of its berm.

    PS: have you guys figured out a way to pull out your tissue in time to catch a sneeze? My sleeve is getting damp…

  6. Poppy says:

    Carol – you need to be more specific as it’s not up to the postie or any other deliverer to decide what you think is junk. Mine actually says No Pizza or takeaway leaflets.

  7. Layla says:

    Ha! I now actually think our no-junk-mail sticker is a good idea! πŸ˜‰

    I used to think you guys were much more advanced as you could opt-out online & zero-waste style! (the sticker still leaves a tiny bit of trash!)

    Blimey & gosh! A load of rubbish indeed! 48 killed in Mexico & 3 in USA, if I remember it rightly? Yes, it does sound like a pharmaceutical firm is trying to get rid of (=sell pricily!) an almost-out-of-date vaccine/’medicine’ or whatsit?
    (‘And if there are viruses, if it’s a flu,’ my neighbour says (a smart one, not the polluting one!) ‘what good is the vaccine or any medicine?!’ – smart thinking!!)

    I totally agree that a little dirt won’t hurt anyone, & stand by my cloth hankies!! they get washed on very high temperatures anyway, soo…?!!
    /I actually yelled at Dad today for throwing away some non-cloth tissue, & got yelled at by Sis ‘not to fuss’ when Dad has a cold, but ugh!! he’s been an inspiration for cloth hankies in the 1st place!!)

    Nadine, maybe just have a hankie tucked under your sleeve? (that’s what we sometimes do :)) &/or hold your nose so you postpone the sneezing (if you hold it tight you can’t sneeze, & sometimes it’ll go away entirely!)

  8. Layla says:

    I mean the sneeze, not the nose! πŸ™‚

    Sarah, which ‘hidden epidemic’ are you referring to?

    About non-cloth hankies – if you throw them away, you do not immediately landfill or burn the bin, do you? The offending non-cloth hankie gets in contact with other rubbish, even bin men could get infected?!! :/ )

    Or would illegal dumps of hankies more-than-once-a-week be noticed?!

    Does anyone know if the pig flu virus also gets destroyed by high temperatures (& how high?) or not?
    (if not, landfills or incinerators could be a bio bomb then anyway-?! thanks to glossy leaflets?!! at least they could make them easily recyclable & not-so-glossy?)

    Mexico City is one of the most polluted cities on Earth, so I’m not surprised an outbreak occurred there..
    We should all focus on cleaner air & healthier nutrition & gosh, smarter life, hopefully.. πŸ™‚

  9. Sarah says:

    @Layla: The figures I quoted are 2 women in the UK every week are killed by their partner or ex partner and 100 women in the UK every day are victims of sexual violence. It’s not an illness as such but there’s no great outcry over it.

  10. Robert says:

    Royal Mail’s warning that you _may_ miss important information from local and national Government is just another attempt to discourage householders from opting out of receiving 150+ pieces of unaddressed junk mail delivered by the postman.

    Important information is _never_ distributed via the door-to-door ‘service’. Even when Royal Mail delivered a leaflet about their new pricing structure for stamps to households throughout the country they didn’t use the door-to-door scheme!

    Of course, the adjective ‘important’ is completely subjective. Personally, I can’t remember ever having received important junk mail. That includes the swine flu leaflet.

  11. Layla says:

    Sarah, thanks for the info!

    car accidents and bad air kill MUCH more people too, soo…?!!

    There have been outcries over domestic violence here in Slovenia a few years ago, & some stuff is moving in the right direction, still too little & rather slow..
    I wish people talked about the more important things too!!

    Robert, interesting info about junk mail/door-to-door service?
    Are the leaflets just another attempt for the post office to earn some $$ & the gov to be able to say ‘they did something’?
    It’s also interesting how different councils (or postmen?) seem to have different notions of what junk mail is?
    Maybe you have just intimidated poor postmen so they don’t dare to bring you anything? πŸ˜‰

    I think ours are a little bit cross at me cause I put the anti-junk-mail sticker on :D, but at least now we can find & not loose our REAL mail YAY!!

  12. Mrs Green says:

    Like you, Sarah, I think this has got out of hand. Sure, it’s important, but there are other issues. Every winter we get some different strain of ‘flu and I’m sure this is no different.

    Poppy, I really feel for the postmen and women. I don’t hold it against them one bit; it’s the system who is at fault. Good tip about what works for you though; thanks for sharing; I’ll get LMG to flex her creative muscle and knock us up a letterbox sticker, perhaps!

    Bravo, Carole – I agree wholeheartedly with what you have written. LMG was bought up like that, and despite being exposed to all the childhood illnesses we can, she STILL hasn’t had anything. That’s not necesarrily good, but it shows her immune system is in fine fetle. I’m quite sure she kick started it at 18 months when she tucked into some cat food LOL!

    Brilliant, Nadine; you’re right about the fear aspect. Another aspect of this is that we have given away self responsibility to the authorities – the education system, the medical system, even the work place – we let people tell us what to do instead of thinking and responding for ourselves.

    Keep your tissues on the desk πŸ˜‰

    Layla, agreed – I wouldn’t prefer people to burn their disposable tissues soaked in swine flu rather than let them go into landfill! We’re lucky with our woodburner, and there is something that is good for the soul to watch those germs being burned up by a big flame. Somehow you seem to get better, quicker πŸ™‚

    Thanks for the information, Robert. It’s really important for our readers to know how the system works.
    Robert has also told me that the DMA are getting a little annoyed with his Junkbusters site. I’ll share the full story on the site soon.

  13. siewpeng says:

    Dear Mrs Green

    Thank you for thinking of me in your original post.

    Wonder if you might be interested in this post of mine:


  14. Mrs Green says:

    @siewpeng: Hi Siewpeng; my pleasure! You supply some great products. I enjoyed reading your post; it was very thought provoking. Let’s hope business picks up for you again soon – swine flu doesn’t seem to be quite the headline news that it was πŸ˜‰

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