Go “extinct” yourself… please!

The useless has landed.  Warning!…the useless has landed. What am I talking about?  Phone books. Loads and loads of phone books.

In my county alone (one single county) there are over a half million households.  So that’s one book for the yellow pages and one book for the white pages.  And that’s just the company that calls themselves “The Real Yellow/White Pages.” And there you have a million(!) phone books.

Next enters another competing company that is producing what they call the “Yellow Book” and “White Book”.  Here we are, one county – TWO MILLION phone books.  That equals about 32,000 trees!  And what about the businesses?   They aren’t even included in these numbers.  I shudder to think.

I want them to go extinct themselves.

My husband has a studio office space in a building outside of downtown Cleveland.  A few years ago the delivery for the entire building arrived…on a pallet.  Funny thing is, there aren’t enough businesses in the building to warrant a pallet of phone books, but a lending company was next door and they had a ridiculous amount of phone numbers, so a book was sent for each number.  It was sickening.  I drove there, we filled our SUV and I drove them to a recycling dumpster at our zoo.  At least THEY didn’t wind up in a landfill.  But if others don’t recycle them, that’s where they’re winding up.

Undoubtedly, phone books are generational.  The younger you are, the less likely you are to count on phone books, and the more likely you are to count on online listings. I learned about a website that is setting its sights on trying to help people opt out of phone books – yellowpagesGoesGreen.org.  They will contact the publisher of your phone book and tell them that you want to opt out.  There is no guarantee, but this should be considered more of a movement to make the industry sit up and take notice…we want our earth to STOP being polluted by unwanted phone books!

So, if your “fingers aren’t walking through the phone book”, let your fingers do the walking on your keyboard to opt out (at least to have your voice counted in disapproval).  And then make your feet do some more walking to the recycling can with your old books.

(*Curbside recycling won’t accept phone books?  Go to earth911.org to find a location that will!)

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8 thoughts on “Go “extinct” yourself… please!

  1. The apartment community I live in currently just delivered phonebooks to ever apartment. Thankfully, we only have 1, Yellow/White combined phone book. I haven’t used a phone book in years though, so I called the office and asked if they’d recycle them if I chose not to take it, and they said, “Yes! Any that aren’t wanted, or are left by the mailboxes will be picked up and recycled at the end of the week.”
    Better, would be allowing us to opt-out from the start (less creation of useless books in the first place), but it’s a start, I guess.

  2. Robert – at least your apartment community is willing to take responsibility for it. The bad part is – how many people actually called and asked the question you asked? – probably very few. I’m sure many took them and just tossed them. Opting out is the best option, if it would just become a widespread choice!

  3. What the folks over at YellowPagesGoesGreen are doing is excellent and if you’re tired of receiving white and yellow phone books that you don’t need and you didn’t ask for – sign up ASAP! More than likely that will not get you off the list as soon as you’d like. At least not yet!

    Best bet is to call each of the directory publishers direct. I wrote a post about it here:


    Rick Zwetschs last blog post..Quick Pickz: 9/4/08

  4. gotta say, unless you’re in a metro area (city, big suberb, etc) the online way is useless. Looking up a number for a local business in my area is a 40 minute affair. Half the time I can’t find ANY number for the business (or person), or it’s REALLY out of date.

    but the phone book for my town is ~80 pages (5 pages for my town), includes all surrounding towns & is ~4x6x0.25″ big. We get a “tricounty” phone book which includes lots more towns but is still ~1/2″ thick, at most. HOWEVER… you CAN call the local phone company & say you don’t want the local book. They don’t mind. Very easy to recycle around here too.

    but even if you don’t want a phonebook, try to get the local utility/emergency #’s from an old one (ie rip it out). Once you have those you’re set. Many websites don’t have those numbers as they want you to call a 1-800 # to redirect your call.

  5. I wrote a blog post on this after I saw yours and I got this comment on my blog… Thought I’d share!

    Kenc wrote:
    Sorry to let you know your facts are NOT correct.

    While the popular myth is that this industry is responsible for the neutering of forests, the reality is the Yellow Pages industry doesn’t knock down any trees for its paper!!! Let me repeat that – they don’t need to cut any trees for their paper supply. Currently, on average, most publishers are using about 40% recycled material (from the newspapers and magazines you are recycling curbside), and the other 60% comes from wood chips and waste products of the lumber industry. If you take a round tree and make square or rectangular lumber from it, you get plenty of chips and other waste. Those by-products make up the other 60% of the raw material needed. Note that these waste products created in lumber milling would normally end up in landfills. Not only that, as wood chips decompose, they emit methane, a greenhouse gas closely associated with global warming.

    And that’s just the paper side of the business….

    Lees last blog post..I Love Reusable Products!

  6. Rick – I agree…we just have to consider it a “movement” and our “voice” saying ENOUGH!

    Friar – you’re right – there are likely places in this country that DO need their phone books (and your 80 page phone book made me grin! 🙂 I like that you can opt out locally too and it’s easy to recycle. It’s the billions upon billions of HUGE books that hit the big metropolitan and suburban areas like us..soooo wasteful.

    Lee – thanks so much for sharing the comment from “Kenc”. Presuming that all of his information is accurate, let’s say that all phone books are made of recycled paper, woodchips and lumber waste. I can accept that. What I can’t accept is what happens after billions and billions of phone books are produced, unwanted and then thrown in the trash! Don’t you agree? I don’t think it justifies the overabundance of phone books by saying that by producing them it keeps other waste from the landfills. I’m just an advocate of dramatically reducing the amount of needless, NEEDLESS phone books from the beginning… your thoughts?

  7. Stephanie – I did too! But I just had yet ANOTHER phone book land at my curb! AUGH! Like I said, we at least should sign-up to be a part of the “movement” that tells the publishers we want a choice of OPTING OUT !

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