Thursday, October 22, 2009

Stop Supporting Companies that Advertise in the Phone Book!

When was the last time you used a telephone book? I cant remember the last time I used one! If you have the Internet and you learned how to use it you have probably learned that there is no faster or easier way to look things up. So with the greenest most eco-friendly information storing and receiving device man has ever invented at our finger tips why is there still 540 million (double the U.S. population) phone books being printed and distributed every year in North America?! If you live in California you probably receive 10 different directories from 10 different publishers(just insane)!

So about a year back I called my 2 local directory providers to opt-out of having my phone book delivered both at my home and business. So around came the time for all the phone books to be delivered and guess what I got 2 sets of phone books at my business and 1 set for the home. In fact at my business adress 2 sets of phone books were delivered to every office and over half of all the offices in my area are empty! There had to be about 1000 phone books that were dropped off to empty offices just in my area alone! WOW just insane

For every 500 phone books printed 17-31 trees are cut down, 7000 gallons of water and 463 gallons of fuel are wasted! That's over 4,100 kilowatts of energy enough to power an average home for 6 months!

So I looked into why this is happening and what can be done to stop it. Apparently there is a practiced called "saturation distribution" that all the phone book publishers practice. In the past, anyone with a landline automatically received a printed copy of the phone book. But today, with the landline exodus to mobile phones, and considering drops at large apartment buildings or corporate campuses, directory publishers use "Saturation Distribution" to ensure that enough printed copies are available. This means that an over-estimated number of copies are dropped to ensure that everyone gets a copy.

So this means that if you call your phone book publisher to opt-out of having your phone book delivered most likely due to "saturation distribution" your still going to get phone book like I did. This got me thinking if you cant stop the phone book from being delivered what can you do?!

Well phone book publishers make money one way advertising if we stop supporting the companies that advertise heavily in the phone book or if we tell those companies that we don't approve of them advertising in the phone book and its waste maybe just maybe we can hurt them enough for them to change their waste full practices. So next time you go to you look up a product or service let them know that you found them online so that they know that any advertising they are doing in the phone book is a waste!

If you want to do more and really bring light to saturation distribution and stop the phone book being being wastefully printed and distributed here are some more things that you can do:

1. Opt Out (due this anyways maybe it might work in your area)
Click here to request that your name and address be removed from the Yellow Pages printed directory mailing list.

2. Get Just One (for people that live in areas like California)
If you still want to get one phone book, not 10 at a time. Call the individual titles directly. Tell them how many books you want a year and to stop unloading duplicates on your front porch.

AT&T/YellowPages (formerly SBC and Bell South):
Yellow Book:
1-800-373-3280 or 1-800-373-2324

3. Write a letter to the Yellow Pages Association
Yellow Pages Association (YPA)
Global Headquarters
Two Connell Drive, First Floor
Berkeley Heights, N.J. 07922-2747
(908) 286-2380
(908) 286-0620 (Fax)

4. Go To The Head Honcho
Hit up the president of the Yellow Pages Association for some one-on-one fire.
Mr. Negley (Neg) Norton
President, Yellow Pages Association (YPA)
Two Connell Drive, First Floor
Berkeley Heights, N.J. 07922-2747
(908) 286-2385

5. Sign the Petition
Tell congress to make unsolicited phone book distribution illegal. Sign the petition at

6. Recycle
Now what to do with all those old phone books collecting dust? Recycle them of course. In most cases, you can simply toss your old phone book in your curbside paper-recycling bin. Some regions, however, require phone books be dropped off at specified recycling centers. To learn the rules for your district, visit the "Keep American Beautiful" recycling directory.
If you don't want to recycle your old phone books, repurpose them for something useful. Yellow pages make excellent booster seats, cockroach killers and X-acto knife cutting surfaces.

Remember change happens when one person does something then another. So if you read this and don't think bye doing one of the things listed above will not make difference think again!

Together we can stop saturation distribution!



  1. Hi!
    I am very new to this green stuff and I have a client (I am a Real Estate Broker) looking for a home with ZERO utility bills. Is this even an affordable option yet? (It seems like it would be massively expensive to build and/or upfit.)
    You seem to know a lot- so I figured I'd ask you.
    Thank you for any assistance you can give!
    Great Blog!!!!
    Tricia Lynch

  2. Excellent booster seats for my kids! Also, when we don't feel like toting them to the recycling center we shred the soft paper for bedding!

  3. You are not kidding that you are on Twitter and on Twitter and on Twitter! It is inspiring actually, your passion. I really like this post and want to get the word out. Can I share this post on Facebook? You do not have a facebook share button so.....

  4. yes please do if you want you can add me on facebook and I'll will post then you can share just search facebook for timsmythe

  5. When was the last time I used a phone book? Yesterday. I use it quite often...though admittedly less than I did 10-15 yrs ago. Consider the energy used throughout the year firing up computer (assuming that it's not left "on" 24/7) just to capture the phone number of someone you need to call. Fortunately in this rust-belt region the economy does not justify 10 directory publishers - I get 2 a year and always recycle 'em. Publishers of these reference tools would not continue to print them if there was not a strong business case and profit potential. I tend to focus more on other insane wasteful printing - the daily deluge of junk mail, advertising inserts in newspapers...collectively this mass of marketing crud far exceeds, in just a month or two, the sheer bulk of my trusty phonebook. FYI: Part of the revenue generated by the yellow pgs directories published by your local telco supports the cost to print and distribute the white pages directories to each household and business in your area - which is especially important to those not connected to the cyberworld. Also the database that results from this effort is used to populate online versions of if phonebooks vanished from the face of earth, countless #s of folks would lack basic "who, what, where" info that we all enjoy today. I do however, support your points to eliminate redundancy & waste.


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