Ban the phonebook / Yellow Pages

It seems there is growing momentum in the US to do something about the amount of waste caused by phone books.  I live in a block of 9 flats and when new books come out (white pages, Yellow Pages and Thomson Local) they are dumped at the bottom of the stairs and sit there for about a week until I put them in the recycling bin.  No-one wants them – people have the internet or know their friends’ numbers.

Business directories such as Yellow Pages and Thomson must be on borrowed time.  I wonder how much business that companies actually get from them.  I know that in a year of advertising through them I didn’t receive a single call.  I suspect it might still be worthwhile for taxi companies, emergency plumbers and takeaway food but I think Yellow Pages only still exists because lots of companies don’t actually measure how much business it brings in and are just in the habit of paying them.  They also have high pressure sales people lying about the number of calls you’re likely to receive in order bring in new business.  It’s a short term income but one that a dying business is forced into.

According to stop the waste, over 80% of Americans would be happy with an opt-in system whereby you only receive a book if you request one, I suspect the same figures would be seen here.  Obviously that wouldn’t go down well with Yellow Pages who are happy to print thousands of totally unread books every year in order to sell advertising but it makes sense from both an ecological and moral point of view.

I’m just going to have a check, I think I have a Yellow Pages somewhere – I suspect it may be from years ago.

Two ticks….

…okay, it’s pristine but only from 2007 so not as old as I thought. The recycling just got a kilo heavier.

Update: Link to 11 Biggest Spammers in history where the Yellow Pages is #1.

  • Russ Iden

    35% of the UK population DON’T have internet access and Yellow Pages employs thousands of people throughout the UK and stimulates the UK economy, it is a recyclable product that uses managed forest paper, why don’t you a little before spouting your mouth off.

  • Richard Falconer

    Lol. You would say that since you work for them, Russ: http://www.mooks.co.uk/Site/Welcome.html
    They might be made from recycled paper but there is still a huge amount of energy wasted in recycling, printing and delivering these things. I would argue that the amount of money spent on advertising in Yellow Pages could be better spent marketing in other ways. Far from stimulating the economy, directories use hard-sell techniques to waste company budgets.
    It’s true that not everyone has the internet. Those people should be able to request directories if they want them. Sending them out to everyone is exceedingly wasteful.

  • Fiona

    I don’t want a yellow pages/thompson etc, it is a huge waste of money and not good for the environment. An opt in system would be much better the take up I’m sure would be minimal.

    As for the staff selling advertising, couldn’t they just sell it for Yell.com instead? Without the cost of producing the directory they may even be able to sell it cheaper which may increase the take up? Also far easier to monitor the advertising performance on the web.

  • Sarah Hughes

    What you need to ensure is that if yellow pages are to be taken out of circulation then an online service replicates what is lost. I use Yell.com on a regular basis for work but due to their maximum of 10 free searches in any 24 hour period I have to resort to getting the book out most days. Otherwise I will have to pay – and it’s not cheap – desperate to get a number to contact a new client the other day I had to buy credits to find information – £14.95. What’s more I had to use this – eg I couldn’t then have my free searches back before the credit had run out. Don’t fall victim to a company planning a monopoly of information – we need global freedom of information, after all this is OUR information they are peddling.