Paving the Road to Hell

There’s an article in today’s Nashville City Paper about a middle school class’s effort to collect and recycle phone books.  Apparently, the school was started a few years ago as some sort of a “global awareness” magnet school.  I’m surprised Eric Crafton hasn’t tried to shut it down since I’m pretty sure the globe includes Mexico.

But anyway, the sweet little Gorephites quote the impact on the environment of collecting these books.  “The teachers have calculated that by recycling their phone books, the school has saved approximately 140 trees, 29,600 pounds of lumber and 192,000 gallons of water.”

I appreciate what they’re trying to do, but those resources would only really be saved if we didn’t reprint new phone books each year.  Phone books are already printed on recycled paper, so there’s not really any savings there.  And even recycled paper is usually 70% virgin fiber (no, it doesn’t come from ugly trees, Sarcastro) so the phone books which are stacked fifty high in front of every business in town by the three competing yellow pages providers are still going to necessitate the harvesting of more trees.

So here’s a novel idea that these kids could throw their weight behind instead of filling up there storage closets with mountains of books.  Since 95% of the white pages and 90% of the yellow pages don’t change at all from year to year and all of this information is instantly available and up-to-date on hundreds of web sites, why don’t we just not reprint the darn phone books every year?  Keep your old one for a few years and tell these companies you don’t need a new one.  Then maybe they’d stop printing so many and they wouldn’t need to waste any resources.

Am I the only one who’s ever thought of this?


10 Responses to Paving the Road to Hell

  1. Ivy says:

    ITA. I never use a phone book, I always use Google. I take my phone book for recycling immediately after I get one.

  2. bfrank says:

    Don’t you sell paper for a living? Seems that this post could get you kicked out of the fraternity. I completely agree with what you wrote. The way to make it happen is to convince advertisers that their budgets are better spent on other media, which would put a squeeze on the yellow books. The books would shrink and then hopefully disappear. I’ve seen a lot of yellow pages budgets reallocated lately and have yet to hear a story about negative fallout…except from the yellow pages sales reps.

  3. Lynnster says:

    I haven’t really thought about it enough to be aware of it, but I honestly don’t remember the last time I opened a phone book. Like Ivy, I pretty much head to Google (or any time I’m looking for a number.

  4. “Am I the only one who’s ever thought of this?”


    I took out a Yellow Pages ad last year. It cost thousands of dollars. I got one job from it all year. The president of my ad agency agreed that it would be a good idea. I need to fire my stupid ad agency.

  5. Lynnster says:

    Well, OK, there is a good point. When I’m looking for some place to go eat or a few other services (plumbers, for instance) – that’s when I open up the Yellow Pages.

    The only thing is I hardly ever go out to eat anymore so I don’t use it because I don’t need to look. But when I did more often – yeah, that’s when I’d use the Yellow Pages.

  6. fishwreck says:

    What’s a phone book?

  7. newscoma says:

    You know a lot about paper.
    I didn’t know that about you.

  8. sistasmiff says:

    When they brought the new phonebooks a couple weeks ago and left them on the front porch, I immediately took them out to the trash.

  9. […] Within five years phone books will be no more. Mark my words. Spread It Around: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. […]

  10. Jackson says:

    The problem is that the people creating phone books don’t give a damn about people actually using them. They make their money from ad sales, and they sell ads based on the number pf books they thrust upon unwilling recipients.

    As a business owner I am doing my part and not advertising with them 😉

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