Say No to Phonebooks

Filed in Blog by on October 20, 2009 15 Comments
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Say No to phonebooks by signing the petition

Say No to phonebooks by signing the petition

We’ve talked about phone books and Yellow pages a lot on myzerowaste.

Many of us have opted out of receiving them, but still find them on the doormat when we get home. Some of us, mentioning no names, have been known to chase the delivery person down the street, wielding the directory like an axe in their direction!

It seems the number may finally be up for the phone book thanks to the “Say No to Phonebooks” campaign team.

75 million phonebooks a year are dumped on Britain’s doorsteps and as the Say No To Phonebooks organisers point out, many of us no longer use them. They are campaigning for an ‘Opt IN’ method rather than people having to opt OUT, which makes far more sense to us!

According to their You Tube video, to create those 75 million phonebooks requires

  • 680,000 barrels of oil
  • 2 billion litres of water
  • 248 million killowatts of electricity

and leaves 62,000 tonnes of waste at the end of it! They estimate only 60% of telephone books are recycled.

The campaign is  supported by the Global Action Plan, It’s Not Easy Being Green and, according to the Guardian, a member of Hammersmith and Fulham council in London who has calculated that it costs his local authority £15,000 a year to collect and recycle discarded directories.

If you think telephone directories should be opt IN, rather than opt OUT, then sign the Government petition.

Out of interest; when was the last time you used a paper phonebook to look up a number?



About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (15)

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  1. Signed up as requested

  2. Steve says:

    I’ll support this as I haven’t used a phone book in ages. We get Yellow Pages and Thomson too, but don’t use them either. These are supported by advertising revenue, but how many people are looking at them these days.

  3. John Costigane says:

    Hi Mrs Green,

    The 40% landfill figure is a shocker. A better approach might be to swap old for new to allow people to avoid the new phone book, if required. For those keen on a new one they would be required to leave out for, or exchange with, delivery people. They can then recycle 100% of the used directories. This would satisfy most people but with extra work for deliverers.

    My last look at a Thomson directory was to check a town-centre map for a shopping trip. These maps are changed infrequently.

  4. Poppy says:

    I am that wee spider in Robbie Burns cave and I will try, try, try again!

  5. Poppy says:

    I would be interested to know how many jobs are involved here. Are we potentially putting people on the dole by saying NO? I know that this is the type of question I’m likely to asked when I try to sell this campaign.

  6. Alea says:

    I need to find out if there is an equivalent opt out program in the U.S.!

  7. LOL – “mention no names”. Love it. The last time I attempted to use a phone directory was a couple of months ago, when I’d shut down the computer. Went to the cupboard to look for last year’s directory. It wasn’t there, so spent 10 minutes hunting high and low for where I may have left it. Then, by the time I tracked it down, the business I was looking for wasn’t even in there, despite it being older than the directory itself. Ended up dialling one of the 118 118 numbers……I can still feel the frustration rising in me now 🙂 x

  8. LJayne says:

    I use a phone book for personal numbers as I’ve never really managed to get to grips with how to do this online! Business numbers and the like is all computerised.

    But am more than happy to take the responsibility for signing IN to get a book so will sign the petition now.

  9. Mrs Green says:

    @maisie dalziel: Well done Maisie!

    @Steve: Hi Steve, welcome. I think the statistics show that MOST people use the internet for telephone numbers now; so it’s great you’ve added your voice to the campaign.

    @John Costigane: Your swap idea is excellent John; I’d very much like to see that happening as a compromise if ithe OPT IN idea does not go through.

    @Poppy: Great question, poppy. Maybe John’s idea is a better one then – the people could collect old ones and change their jobs in that way…

    @Alea: Did you find anything Alea? I had a quick look but could only find opt out information

    @Almost Mrs Average: Ahhh, it might have been quicker to reboot the computer, Mrs A! That’s why I never use my directories as well 😉

    @LJayne: That’s great. lesley. I think just having the option is good. It’s fine if you need one and find value in it, but if not it’s just waste that has to be disposed of….

  10. Sarah says:

    I can opt out? Where?

  11. Janet Boaler says:

    I am all for making the issueing of new ‘phone books into an ‘opt in’ service. Also is there any way to reduce ‘junk mail’ further. I object to being continually bombarde by charities, even those to which I subscribe, with unsolicited mail.

    J. Boaler

  12. Mrs Green says:

    @Janet Boaler: Hi Janet, you’ll find everything you need to know about stopping junk mail on this page:

    Ours has reduced by over 80% now. Just be aware that opting out of junk mail is only applicable for 2 years – you need to reapply (I don’t think they tell you that bit) 😉

    Good luck! Let us know how you get on

  13. Paul says:

    I read an article about you and your website this morning (in the Daily Mail). I emailed [email protected] at 11.13am saying “Hi, Please could you arrange for me to be taken off the delivery list, so that I no longer receive a BT Phone Book. Thanks” And gave my name and address. At 13.38 I got an email from Val Mitchell, Customer Service Advisor, BT Directories saying ” Dear [me!] Thank you for your email. I have arranged for your details to be removed from our distribution list for the BT Nottingham Phone Book, regards, Val”. 0800 833 400

    Great idea from you guys and great service from Val Mitchell at BT

  14. Mrs Green says:

    @Paul: Hi Paul, thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. It’s lovely to hear how you got on so well with this; it seems like it was easy and straight forward! Good for you and thanks for helping others to see how easy these changes can be 🙂

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