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Time to refuse those unwanted, unrecycled phone books?

Whitepages Just 30% of Americans use white pages phone books to look up telephone numbers and addresses. Even fewer Americans (22%) recycle them, according to a study released Wednesday.

"If so few people use the phone book and recycle the phone book, we have an issue on our hands. That begs the question: What can we do about it?" said Alex Algard, chief executive of, an online people and business search service that conducted the survey with the market research firm, Harris Interactive.

"One simple remedy here is to make the white pages phone book available only on an opt-in basis," Algard said.

White pages phone books have been around as long as the telephone -- since 1887, according to Algard.  About 70% of U.S. states require telephone companies to make and distribute phone books to their landline customers.

Burdened by the cost obligations, telecarriers such as AT&T and Verizon have been working with regulators in recent years to stop the automatic delivery of residential white pages. Florida, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania are among the states that have granted Verizon permission to stop automatic delivery. AT&T has had similar success in certain counties in Georgia, Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Wisconsin.

Eighty-seven percent of Americans favor an opt-in program for printed white pages, according to the survey. About 5 million trees are pulped and printed into white pages each year. And 165,000 tons of those phone books are put in landfills each year.  

-- Susan Carpenter


Comments () | Archives (10)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Tell this to Al Gore.

You can stop most phone books at ( You can also halt unwanted catalogs.

I've been wanting an opt-in program for years, but didn't realize these were required! I doubt the third-party books are. I've seen stacks of them piled up months after they have been delivered, and they sit in the streets sometimes rotting. One doesn't even need the internet or 411 anymore. Simply send a text message with your desired merchant or business type to Google and in seconds you have your listing.
(No trees were harmed in the posting of this message.)

There is no need for these. Why not just drop a stone tablet on people's porches with a bunch of phone numbers carved into it?

If old people need these because they can't use a computer, then let them request them via mail or phone.

wait... WHAT? Are you telling me all that phone book garbage is REQUIRED BY LAW?? Thats insane. Pull the plug now. Just... STOP.

Well, I want these books! And they are just as recyclable as anything else. If people aren't recycling, then encourage or require recycling. Don't ban or otherwise make it difficult to get useful things -- and the track record of ability-convenience to opt in for anything is pretty poor.

We get just yellow pages delivered every couple of months to our front door by a company other than our phone company. we need to stop this waste, too.

it's time for phone companies to do the right thing and make "information" calls free again.

Why not just put the phone books onto a CD?

I don't use either the white or yellow pages. The Internet makes it possible to find everything you need. I can't recall the last time I used one of those books for anything other than a booster seat or plant stand.


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