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Air Date: Mar 4, 2003
Reporter: Clifton Joseph
Producer: Maxine Sidran
Researcher: Louisa Jaslow

If you have an address, you’ve found CDs in your mailbox, offering three months of free AOL service. They’re not
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recyclable and most wind up in landfills — where they don’t degrade for hundreds of years. People are inventing some creative ways to deal with the situation.

AOL recruits new users by dispatching millions of CDs offering three free months of service. Deploy one of them in your computer and you have enlisted into the AOL internet access machinery. If you’re not interested in signing up and hearing “you’ve got mail,” then you’ve got garbage.

Those ubiquitous AOL CDs have so many sneaky ways of arriving unsolicited into your homes:

  • through computer magazines
  • orders from Amazon.ca
  • the Sears catalogue
  • in a modem package
  • the local newspaper
  • flyers fromthe Royal Bank

The AOL cds that don’t make it into your home lounge around seductively — in places like Canadian Tire, Future Shop, Radio Shack, the post office — begging you to take them home and hook them up with your computer.

When overwhelmed by a seemingly endless barrage of AOL CDs, creative minds let their juices flow, and use them for all kinds of artistic endeavors. There are Web sites showcasing these works of art.

Toronto’s Jed Goldberg, president of the environmental awareness
group Earth Day Canada says the CDs can't be recycled — they have plastics and metals in them.

"It isn’t a clean type of recyclable," Goldberg told Marketplace.

There’s a protest movement that’s started online. The two full time IT workers behind NoMoreAOLCDS.com have, like latter day Davids, declared war on the AOL Goliath.

Their slingshot battleplan? Collect one million unwanted CDs from angry recipients, deliver them to AOL headquarters and say: "This is your garbage. You do something about it."

Canadians, like Burnaby’s Brad Salomons, have answered the call. Brad’s been bombarded by a blitzkrieg of those CDs.

"You can complain all you want, but these guys are actually taking action and gonna turn around and going to give AOL their just desserts."

Jim McKenna is one of the driving forces behind NoMoreAOLCDS.com. He says receiving eight AOL CDs in one week got the movement going.

"We’re trying to make a point. They’ve created
Jim McKenna
'We're trying to make a point."
Jim McKenna, NoMoreAOLCDs.com
something that I see as garbage and put it on my lawn. So we’re going to take the CDs from all the folks who agree with us, package it up, take them back to the rightful owners."

Marketplace tried to get AOL to comment on the issue. But the company declined.

McKenna has about 120,000 AOL CDs in his two car garage. The goal — a million, which would cover the floor of the garage, knee-deep, and would weigh about 18 tonnes.

The jaded might see their final offensive as a misguided merry throng of wanton pranksters in one tonne trucks bucking up against a predictably unresponsive corporate behemoth. But Brad Salomons is a true believer in the protest.

"If enough people do something about it, enough people stand up, AOL’s got to respond to that."

In the meantime, the campaign marches on, as the arsenal of unwanted AOL CDs bulges steadily towards the million disk mark.

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No More AOL CDs Canada
No More AOL CDs - main site



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