Tuesdays is pub day. No, not the day we head off to our local for our drink , but the day the postman leaves a pile of advertising brochures – le pub – in the mailbox with our letters. We refer to it all as the weekly pictures of meat since invariably all the brochures from the supermarket chains have a good few pages devoted to – you guessed it – pictures of meat. I can’t see the point, I have to say. One bit of meat looks very much like another in my opinion. Are there really people who will see the photo of, for example, ‘viande bovine a bifteck’ (beef steak) or ‘porc: foie, coeur et rognon’ (pig’s liver, heart and kidney) and leap from their chair to rush to the shops to buy it, unable to face life without that for dinner?

Sometimes we get two lots of pub. I suspect we might be at the end of our ever-changing postie’s rounds, so if anything is left over, we get it. No problem, it all gets recycled chez nous. Either it’s used for starting the fire, although we find the coated, shiny paper that’s used in le pub isn’t brilliant. The rest goes to the nearest ‘local à papiers’ (paper recycling point), although at present we’re saving it up for our raised beds. Just as soon as Notaire’s house if fully finished, we’ll be taking to the garden to build these. Our veg get easily swamped by weeds, plus the soil needs some serious improvement, so we’ve decided raised beds are the answer. Le pub will form a thick layer over at the bottom of each bed to stop the weeds growing through. Aptly enough, a lot of manure (a good mixture of llama, alpaca, chicken and rabbit droppings and bedding) will go on top of the brochures. (Ironically, this week the Leclerc pub has ads for horse manure – fumier -in it!) We’ll mix soil in with that too and are confident our veg yields will double this year.

The hardware and garden stores are the next most persistent producers of pub, closely followed by clothes shop. Those brochures get more attention in this household than the supermarket ones. Being a so-called ‘hard discount’ family, we don’t buy top name products but live off supermarket own-brand produce. They don’t feature in le pub at all.

Is le pub effective? It must be since it’s continually churned out. Or is it just the case that no supermarket dares make the unilateral decision to stop? Le pub is a huge industry. A lot of precious resources go into filling France’s mailboxes every Tuesday and then France’s bins every Wednesday, since the majority of it must get thrown away. This isn’t a nation of recyclers yet. However, look carefully and you’ll see the ecofolio logo on the back of a lot of the brochures. When organisations sign up for this, they commit to pay 37 euro per tonne of paper they produce to acknowledge their ‘responsabilité elargie de producteur’ i.e. a recognition of their wider environmental responsibilities. They must also provide facilities for recycling paper. There’s also the ‘imprimvert’ logo on some pub. This encourages greener printing practises and certain standards have to be met to be able to use the logo on a publication. Steps in the right direction at last, but not everyone’s taking them.

So even though for now le pub is going strong and getting greener, I hope it’s days are numbered.