People are increasingly relying on the Internet to look up information about goods and services. We’ve asked around and very few people still use phone books. According to YellowPagesGoGreen.org there are more than 500 million phone books printed and distributed every year in the US. That is almost 2 phone books for every American every year. It takes more than 1.6 billion pounds paper (19 million trees) to make these phone books. The production of these books uses 7.2 million barrels of oil (not including the gas used to deliver the books). In addition to the paper and oil used, the production of the phone books also uses “up 3.2 billion kilowatt hours of electricity and generates 268,000 cubic yards of solid waste (not including the books themselves, many of which eventually end up in landfills in areas where recycling is not available or convenient).”
So how can we stop getting these phone books every year? We found the following article written by the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine.
Unfortunately, there is no centralized way for consumers to opt-out of receiving the big books like the National Do Not Call Registry for telemarketing. Most individual yellow and white page publishers have “no deliver” lists they can add you to, but they will not be held accountable if the books show up anyway. The YellowPagesGoesGreen.org website will find your local/regional directory pages publishers and ask them not to deliver on your behalf. The site warns, though, that there are no guarantees with this either.
For their part, directory publishers insist they have made great strides in recent years to operate in an environmentally responsible manner. The Yellow Pages Association (YPA) and the Association of Directory Publishers (ADP) have collaborated on formal guidelines calling for source reduction in the production of directories, environmentally sensitive manufacturing practices and enhanced recycling programs. About 90 percent of industry members have adopted the guidelines so far. Examples in practice include the use of water-soluble inks and recycling-friendly glues, not to mention forsaking the use of virgin trees in their books (many books are made from recycled old phone books, mixed with scrap wood).
Because of widespread and increasing use of the Internet, many sources of information — from newspapers and magazines to newsletters and, yes, directories — are forsaking print for online placement. So it is really just a matter of time before phone directories follow that lead. In the meantime, asking to be removed from the delivery list of your local directory publisher can only help to hasten that inevitability.