May 11 2008

EcoView: The Yellow Pages Must Be Stopped!

Published by at 10:49 am under Uncategorized

The Yellow Pages and related phone directories are bulky paper monsters that constitute a huge waste of resources and energy. Adding insult to injury, these products don’t even seem to serve any useful purpose in a paperless Information Age. It’s waste for waste’s sake.

When was the last time you actually picked up a phone book rather than checking online (or just calling 411)?

Let’s force our government to take action and force the publishers of these products to implement an opt-in requirement for anyone who still wants these dead trees brought to their door.

Put your name to an online petition by joining the Facebook group, “The Yellow Pages Must Be Stopped!

Be responsible. Help the planet.

Thanks to eco-friendly media maven Michael Klassen for leading the charge on this issue with his paperless blog post (Letter to Vancouver Sun re: Phone Books).

UPDATE: Thanks to some very spot-on corrections by some very helpful people, I’ve been informed that virgin trees are not used in the production of the Yellow Pages and have changed the content of this post to reflect that. I humbly stand corrected.

Nonetheless, given that so many of these books do go straight to a recycling bin, I still stand by the statement that “the Yellow Pages and related phone directories are bulky paper monsters that constitute a huge waste of resources and energy”. Thank you for your assistance, people.

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10 responses so far

10 Responses to “EcoView: The Yellow Pages Must Be Stopped!”

  1. Larry Yatkowskyon 11 May 2008 at 8:20 pm

    can’t get them to the blue box fast enough.

  2. kencon 12 May 2008 at 5:42 am

    Your comments are way off base.

    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. Paper manufacturing thus puts these chips to good use. Many paper providers will also use 5% or less of recycled directories in their paper creation.

    If you want some more detail on how paper is made — actually from a plant in Port Angles near you — go here:

  3. jonon 12 May 2008 at 6:29 am

    Before u take the time to rant about something, you should do some research! Most phone books are made from pulp, the left over portion of a cut tree. No trees are cut just to make a phone book. Also, most ink is soy based making the whole book way more recycelable than the computer you are using. Usually the people complaining don’t have any money to buy anything out of the phone book anyway!

  4. jnarveyon 12 May 2008 at 8:01 am

    Ken, thank you for your helpful comments. I’ve updated this post to reflect your information.

    Jon: “Usually the people complaining don’t have any money to buy anything out of the phone book anyway”. I’m not sure what the point is that you’re making. Poor people don’t have the right to have an opinion? And because I’m complaining about the Yellow Pages, I’m living out of a (recycled?) cardboard box? Is that it? Odd.

    But I would remind both of you that regardless of the materials used in making the Yellow Pages, since so many of these books go straight to the recycling boxes (hopefully), an opt-in system would help this company avoid a lot of waste of resources and energy.

    I’ve noticed that neither of you have bothered to respond to this central idea of my post: the Yellow Pages ought to have an opt-in system. What do you think? Good idea? If not, why not? Cheers.

  5. Stephanie Hobbson 12 May 2008 at 9:27 am

    A couple of facts, last year people in the U.S. referenced the print yellow pages 13.4 billion times and it remains a great way for small businesses to reach their customers. Our ROI is outstanding compared to most other advertising media. And our print publishers with online presence are providing content to a number of search engines. Opt-out information is available in most directories. Full disclosure, I work for the Yellow Pages Association.

  6. kencon 12 May 2008 at 9:32 am

    Thank you for noting our comments on the facts behind the source of paper for YP publishers.

    Not sure about where you are, but many publishers do already have opt-out information in their print products. But to your other question, the publishers through their associations have started an optional opt-out program. You should expect most of the publishers to participate. Not sure how they will affect those in Canada.

    It will require people who want to opt-out to confirm on annual basis their wishes just in case people move or situations change.

    But what you missed most in your expressions was that because of it’s wide distribution, print Yellow Pages are actually the most valuable source to the community regarding recycling information. With virtually 99% distribution every household and business location should have all of that information at their finger tips, since not every community recycles the same. In my area, you still need to bring electronics and various household chemicals to different locations. I was not aware of that until I read the multi-page section in the front part of our print Yellow Pages. No other traditional media source can play that role and most local governments don’t want to take on the expense to push that information out themselves. So actually, the print Yellow Pages DO provide a more valuable role to the community than you give them credit for….

  7. jnarveyon 12 May 2008 at 10:48 am

    Hey Ken. Thanks again for correcting my lackluster research earlier. I’m very happy to hear that the Yellow Pages ARE NOT harming our old growth forests.

    Nonetheless, I’m afraid your latest points just haven’t convinced me. Is is really impossible to find that recycling information you mentioned online?

    Yes, the Yellow Pages and White Pages do have value for those Canadians still without Internet service either at home or at libraries, offices, or wifi cafes (wherever they are). But overall, printing all these just seems to be a waste.

    You mention the opt-out information, which is fair enough. But again, this puts the onus on the recipient. It’s not really what I was suggesting.

    What I’m asking for is to put the onus on the publishers to actually contact the end users (by email or a single-page mail-out) to get people to sign up to receive the Yellow Pages. That’s not opt-out. It’s opt-in.

    Most email and print newsletters use this kind of procedure and it seems to work well (ie. the people who signed up to get the materials DEFINITELY wanted to get them). Those who don’t want them don’t get them and the publishers don’t have to waste money, resources and energy producing products that go straight into a blue box.

    I expect we’ll have to agree to disagree on this point. But thanks again for reading. Cheers!

  8. Bryanon 31 May 2008 at 11:26 am

    Well we can all rest easy because “global warming” is just a myth that has not even been scientifically proven. So everyone can just go home and relax. Go do something useful for once.

  9. […] in my previous call to action (The Yellow Pages Must Be Stopped), I’m calling for an opt-in requirement for anyone who still wants these bulky directories […]

  10. Kevinon 25 Jul 2008 at 7:20 am

    Consumers can “opt out” of receiving telephone books at They will contact the publishers and inform them to stop delivering books. This is a free service for consumers. is working with state and local governments on ordinances concerning the delivery of unsolicited telephone books. is not against the telephone books but against the delivery of 4 to 5 pounds of paper on people’s door step 5 to 6 times per year and being told it is our responsibility to recycle something we did not ask for. If we need a book we will call. Otherwise I “opt out” from receiving it.

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