It’s 2008, so let’s dump phonebooks


When was the last time you used a printed phonebook for its intended use?

When was the last time you bought a phonebook? The last time you called your phone company and requested one be dropped on your front step?

Odds are, since you’re reading a “blog” right now, you haven’t done any of these three things in the last couple of years, at least.

According to the Strib:

“…85 percent of the telephone directories are dumped into the regular trash, even though it has been illegal to do so since 1992. State pollution officials call it one of Minnesota’s biggest solid-waste problems…. A 1992 Minnesota law prohibits putting phone directories in landfills or incinerators, and requires directory publishers to provide and publicize drop-off collection bins, make arrangements with recycling firms and report annually on recycling rates.”

I think the bigger issue is what’s causing the trash build-up — phone book spam.

The article goes on to talk about proposed legislation that would require each telephone directory publisher to establish a “do not receive registry,” but shouldn’t it be the other way around? The new generation isn’t ever going to use printed phonebooks that are outdated before they leave the publisher’s warehouse.

Fear not, dear readers, I have the solution…

The Internet.

Phone numbers, addresses and business directories can all be found on the Internet. It’s faster than flipping pages, can sort populated data in all sorts of format and if you have Skype, you click on the number and are connected instantly. Try to see dead trees mimic that sweet technology.

Of course, everyone has tables in need of leveling, toddlers for propping up and fireplaces that need kindling, but unless you’ve crown accustomed to your annual phonebook spam, may I suggest we dump phonebooks for good?

(photo from funkeemunkeeland’s Flickr stream)

7 Comments so far

  1. Aaron (s4xton) on March 31st, 2008 @ 8:19 am

    For almost ten years now, phonebooks I get go straight to the recycle bin. I think we should be able to return them to people making the phone books so they can pay for the recycling costs instead of the city or whomever is facilitating your recycling. I’ve never asked to receive one.


  2. aric on March 31st, 2008 @ 8:50 am

    The only thing I use it for is calling Xcel when the power goes out. Which is absurdly often. But, I imagine, a handy fridge magnet could remove that bloated crutch.


  3. Woods (woods) on March 31st, 2008 @ 9:54 am

    Before I got an iPhone, I would use 800-GOOG-411 all the time, it’s just as good as any phonebook. Now I keep one phone book in my trunk incase I break down and need to start a fire to keep warm.
    What is the total environmental impact of the phone book? There is waste and pollution when the trees are cut. When the pulp is made(or recycled) a ton of water and energy is consumed. The phone books are shipped first via semi and then via local trucks commercial trucks; then via rusty pickups to our doors; which is finally shipped back to the recycling sorting center via recycling trucks, and then shipped to the actual paper recycling faultily via semis, only to repeatt he process.

    Phonebooks may not be up as high as newspapers in their waste stream and pollution, but at least newspapers offer me something of use and value.


  4. billhelm on March 31st, 2008 @ 2:52 pm

    tell that to my grandma that doesn’t use a computer.

    seriously though, people still use them.


  5. greg on March 31st, 2008 @ 3:13 pm

    My Grandma eats a lot of bananas, but that doesn’t mean Chiquita should drop bananas off on every single homeowners’ doorsteps once a year whether they eat bananas or not.


  6. Aaron (s4xton) on March 31st, 2008 @ 9:08 pm

    greg- that sums it up right there.


  7. funkeemunkee on March 31st, 2008 @ 10:15 pm

    What is crazy about this photo is that you can tell that the next the books are going to be delivered because the city’s [Orlando] waste department rolls this cans out for a few days then they disappear again for 6 months. Last cycle I got 3 sets, one large and one small from each of the 3 companies competing in my neighborhood. They even upgraded the recycling equipment to take them with the newspapers too.



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