Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Yellow Pages are Not Green

Last month I wrote about Do Not Mail -- a way to encourage the end of junk mail in your mailbox.

Today I read about a movement to end the distribution of phone books.

When was the last time you reached for a phone book? My point, exactly. I don't think I've opened one in at least 2 years, and probably looked through one maybe 4 times in the last 10 years. The internet has everything I need.

In the meantime, millions of phone books are still being printed, using tons of resources (trees, water, gas for delivery). There are half a million households in this country, so a white phone book plus a yellow phone book for each household equals 1 million phone books. And that is not counting all the phone books that go to businesses! Not only that, but I get phone books from 2-3 different companies, and every year they go and sit on a shelf, untouched, then get tossed in the recycling bin when I get my annual delivery.

I, for one, would love to stop receiving phone books. So I signed up for that here. Go to that website and click on the "Sign Up" button if you prefer not to receive phone books. Trees, not phone books!

Update: I have been informed that the Yellow Pages does not use any virgin trees for their phone books. That is very good news! They use 40% recycled material (from what we recycle curbside -- newspapers and magazines, etc.) and 60% wood chips/waste materials from the wood industry (which is a better use for those products than going to the landfill). So the environmental impact is not as bad as one would think. That is good news for those that like using phone books.

However, since I don't use phone books I would still love to stop getting them and see that material being used for other paper products. I think it would make a huge impact if all businesses used recycled white paper for their copy machines/printers, etc.


Hedro said...

Cool! Just signed up! Yay! I never know what to do with those. I usually just toss them into the recycling bin immediately.

I guess I will miss the smell though.


kenc said...

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....

Lee said...


Thank you for helping to get my facts straight. I will amend the blog post.

However, I would rather see all that stuff being used to make *other* paper products because I *don't* use the yellow or white phone books, ever.