Yellow pages / BT directories

Filed in by on July 4, 2008 20 Comments

yellow pages
Since I’ve had internet access I haven’t unpacked my BT telephone directory or Yellow Pages. For the past few years they have sat unloved and unwanted in the corner of the office until the new one has come along to replace it.

When the new one arrived, I used to throw the old ones, complete with plastic packaging, into the dustbin.

Since setting ourselves a zero waste challenge my awareness has increased dramatically. Everything destined for the bin is examined for reuse possibility along with ‘Could I have made a better purchase in the first place?’ questioning.

My thoughts turned to the festering telephone directories in the corner of the room and I found myself wondering what the options were.

They just appear on the doorstep when you’re out and that’s it. You are left with the responsibility for disposing of it whether or not you want to.

BT Telephone Directories

I’ve found out that BT telephone Directories are easy to recycle. They can just go in with the magazines and newspapers (sans plastic wrapping of course).

Most areas in the UK have readily available recycling containers for paper and newspapers doted around and many areas have kerbside collections of paper. BT white telephone directories can be put in with these.

To reuse them, you can shred them up and add gradually add them to the compost heap. That might be a project to get the kids or hunky husband involved in!

I decided though that the best thing for me would be to stop them at source. I certainly would not have one delivered through choice – they are a totally wasted resource in this house.

I contacted BT through their website. It was very easy to send them an email (directory.product[email protected]) and within 24 hours I was sent the following response:

Thank you for your enquiry

I have now arranged for you to be taken off the delivery list, for you
to no longer receive a BT Phone Book

Well that was easy! If you prefer to call them, there is a freephone number at 0800 833400

Yellow Pages

Yellow pages are more tricky fellas to dispose of as the UK has different facilities depending on area.

You can put old Yellow Pages to good use by donating them to participating schools for the Yellow Woods Challenge. The Yellow woods challenge is run by the Woodlands Trust and local authorities across the UK. School design art projects with old Yellow Pages and are in with the chance of winning money for their school, along with donations to the Woodland Trust for tree planting.

Some councils accept Yellow Pages at the kerbside, some have recycling facilities at the local civic amenities site (ours go in with cardboard at our local site). In other areas the county council will take them back if you take them to their offices and in some areas Community Champions volunteer to be a drop off point for Yellow Pages.

Finding the information for your area can be tricky, but there is a database on the yellow Pages site, although I’m not sure how up to date it is.

Like the BT telephone book I decided that cancelling the Yellow pages was the way forward for us.

An email to Yellow Pages, sadly yielded no response. However, a friend of mine gave me a telephone number to stop them completely which is 0800 671 444. Her disclaimer was to be aware that they take some time to catch up on stop requests!

Changing the future?

The challenge with these directories is that there appears to be no centralised opt-out system like there is for junk mail.

According to the Say No to Phonebooks campaign, set up by, four out of five people no longer use printed phone books.

There is currently an online petition to call for an opt out system for all directories in the UK. 75,000 of tonnes of phonebooks are produced every year and many never make it out of the plastic before going straight back into the landfill. It’s estimated that only 60% of phonebooks actually get recycled.

Sign up and show your support here.

Let us know about the facilities in your area. Is it easy to recycle your Yellow pages or how have you got on with opting out of receiving them – has it worked for you?

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 (20)

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  1. maisie says:

    I have just ent BT an email to cancel our phonebook as it is still sat here in its platic wrap and last times we had to unwrap to put in the recycling.

    Yellow Pages our school did do a collection for them and I “think” were paid for the quantity/weight collected.

    I will give the Yellow Pages number a call in a bit.

  2. Poppy says:

    Hi there Mrs G

    As I said on another posting, despite having cancelled both the yellow and white pages, they were both delivered! Grrrr!

    My anger at the Yellow pages resulted in me being given the hat of local Community Champion with a mission to help neighbours recycle rather than bin redundant Yellow Pages. A month or so later, I left 10 copies at our local recycling centre πŸ™‚

    Last week the White pages was squeezed through my letter box and luckily we were in to witness it. Responding my crys of woe, junior grabbed the offending book and ran dwon the road to the departing deliverer to give it back! Bless him! The training’s going well πŸ™‚

  3. Mrs Green says:

    Hi Maisie,

    Good news about cancelling the BT directory. The school collections for yellow pages are a good way to use them up, but stopping at source is better. imho.

    Poppy, although frustrating for you, it’s good when something like this moves us towards positive action. You’ve provided a wonderful service to your local community and the environment by being a Champion.
    Your training course is evidently top notch – we’ll have to send more people to you!

  4. Sarah says:

    Emailed BT and will try to ditch the yellow too.

  5. Mrs Green says:

    @Sarah: well done Sarah – I hope you have some luck with cancelling them and thanks for helping spread the word on your blog πŸ™‚

  6. Mrs Green says:

    @Poppy: Brilliant article; I was thrilled to see Robert’s stop junk mail site getting the attention it deserves at last. I wrote to congratulate him and he was concerned that the opt out people would go into their office on Monday morning to see 1000 new opt out mails LOL!

  7. Dudley says:

    Have just sent an email to Thomson Directories ([email protected]) to cancel future deliveries.


  8. Dudley says:

    Please ignore the link in my last post (it’s about privacy).

  9. Poppy says:

    I had a letter from Thomson last week, which says they have been informed that I don’t wish to receive their directory, with a big sticker to put on the door to remind the deliverers when they come round.

    I’m mildly impressed, but I wasn’t over enthusiatic about putting this huge sticker on my door. With all the things that come through my door that i don’t want, it could start to get rather crowded πŸ˜‰

  10. Mrs Green says:

    @Dudley: Thanks Dudley, for the email address. I hope this stops your delivery in future!

    @Poppy: Great news, Poppy – good that they send the sticker, though I know what you mean – your front door might start to look like a noticeboard πŸ˜€

  11. Poppy says:

    They’re back! Looked out of the bedroom window this morning and I see yellow dotted around everywhere I look! How lovely if this was seasonal daffodils, but no, sadly it’s the annual swarm of the all too often spotted Yellow Pages πŸ™

    The good news is that we haven’t personally got one …. Yippee! Zippeddy doo dah!! It finally worked …. but oh how I wish my neighbours had also made the effort to say NO!

  12. Mrs Green says:

    @Poppy: Oh nooooooo; well done for getting off the list yourself; let’s hope we are as lucky; it didn’t work last time **stamps foot**

  13. Poppy says:

    More interesting news from our old friend Yellow Pages ……. they’ve gone midi size. I saw a copy on a doorstep and finally remembered to look it up to see if they have anything to say about it. According to their website, this change should save around 5,000 tonnes of paper, so good news, but I still don’t want one :p

  14. Mrs Green says:

    @Poppy: Well I never knew that – thanks for the heads up Poppy and if they are being delivered I’d better be on my guard because even though I’ve opted out, they still deliver them. Grrr

  15. Teresa says:

    I still need to keep a copy of as my computer isn’t reliable. Don’t think much of Thomson directories though.

  16. Rich says:

    I removed myself from the mailing lists years ago but it made no difference. every year i phone up to ask why i’m still getting them and they just apologise and say it won’t happen again. well i give up phoning up and complaining, instead, i’m just printing an address label and sending it back to them, obviously no stamp. maybe when they’ve had to pay for postage from 100’s of people, they’ll start to respect our requests??

  17. Mrs Green says:

    @Rich: I send stuff back too, when the sender doesn’t respond. Some companies seem to absorb me constantly returning things to them – BT is one of the worst offenders AND they keep increasing their prices. I wonder when they’ll put 2 and 2 together?!

  18. Chris Levey says:

    The opt out for stopping directories on the web no longer exists but this is the advice from the Essex CC web page.

    Opt out of telephone directories
    By not receiving telephone directories, you can help to save a vast amount of paper every year. The following are the numbers you need to call to opt out of the most popular directories:
    BT Phonebook – 0800 833 400
    Yellow Pages – 0800 671 444
    Thomson Local – 01252 555 555.

  19. oete jones says:

    my ddor has a clear notice NOT to deliver any junk mail but yet many guys seem to deliver it . in fact I almost had a fight with a guy delivering yellow pages who claimed that the junk mail was not junk mail and that ehw sas fed up with people like me complaining about it,

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