Curse You, Yellowpages

Let's stop the annual delivery of a waste of paper that nobody uses.

By Patrick Doyle | Boston Daily |

Few things fill me with as much yuppie rage as the sight of a brand new stack of phonebooks sitting on my front porch. Sure, I should just recycle it. And I did! But I'm still mad. Here's why:

1. I don't even live in Brookline, Brighton, or Chestnut Hill,  yet I'm getting their lousy phonebook.

2. I don't have a Verizon landline—or, for that matter, a Comcast one—and as far as I know, nobody in my triple-decker does, either. I never asked for this product, don't want it, and yet it's now become my property. I'm the proud owner of a three-pound piece of garbage.

3. Phonebooks are an absurd waste of paper. Annually, an estimated 5 million trees are turned just into white pages directories. (And yes, this is coming from a guy who works for a magazine. But people actually pay to receive our product—we don't just mail it to everyone with a mailbox.)

4. Not nearly enough people recycle them: According to a 2011 study, it's just 22 percent. The rest end up in landfills—or, as Universal Hub points out, just rotting in snowbanks.

5. Barely anyone uses the phonebook anymore, because we have the Internet! That same study showed that around seven out of 10 people rarely or never use the white pages. I bet it's even lower now that smart phone adoption is on the rise.

6. The phone companies, for the most part, don't even want to print the whitepages anymore, but 70 percent of states require the companies to distribute them. (The Yellow Pages, on the other hand, are supported by advertising and a strong lobby, and challenge any attempt to ban them—including proposals in Boston and Cambridge. The Yellow Pages, in fact, was able to overturn a Seattle ban by taking it to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.)

What's to be done? Well, recycling the damn things is the first step, so they don't end up in a landfill. Signing up to opt out of the Yellow Pages is the second step, although I'm highly skeptical that's going to stop deliveries. And third, can we get a city councilor or state representative to present a bill banning the automatic delivery of phonebooks—or, at the very least, make it an opt-in procedure?

Source URL: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/blog/2013/01/25/ban-phonebook/