Opt out of receiving the phone book

phone bookYesterday, I told you about Catalog Choice, an online service that easily lets you cancel catalogs. There’s another online service that lets you opt out of receiving the phone book that automatically comes to your house every year. It’s called Yellow Pages Goes Green.

Every year I get a phone book. I put it in the kitchen cabinet. I don’t even crack the spine. The next year, I get a new phone book. I put the old phone book in the recycle bin. What a waste. Those things are huge, and more and more people are finding them obsolete.

Now, I’ve read people who think that receiving the phone book should be “opt in”, not “opt out.” If you want the phone book, you should request it. But here’s why I think that’s not a good idea. The people who still rely on the good old yellow pages are the ones who aren’t plugged in. Like my mom. She doesn’t have a computer. She’ll never have a computer. The fact that she has a cell phone still amazes my brothers and me.

Many older people (and some younger people, too) still rely on the phone book, and many of them wouldn’t know how to go about “opting in” to get. Those of us who are plugged in and tech savvy shouldn’t really have a problem taking five minutes to say, “Stop sending me the phone book, please.”

Yellow Pages Goes Green makes that an easy five minutes. Actually, it took me less than two. I registered my name, address, and e-mail. Then I immediately received an e-mail asking me to confirm that I really wanted to opt out. It costs nothing.

According to their website 540 million (more than 2 books for each person in the country) unsolicited phone books are delivered each year. You know the size of those things. That’s a lot of paper being used, and it’s estimated that less than 10% of the phone books ever get recycled.  With all of the electronic ways to get information today, most of those phonebooks go unused.

To produce those books:

  • 19 million trees need to be harvested
  • 1.6 billion pounds of paper are wasted
  • 7.2 million barrels of oil are misspent in their processing (not including the wasted gas used for their delivery to your doorstep)
  • 268,000 cubic yards of landfill are taken up
  • 3.2 billion kilowatt hours of electricity are squandered
  • The cost associated with the delivery and disposal of these books is exorbitant. Unfortunately, these unsolicited costs fall heavily on consumers. Why are we paying for something that was delivered to our homes and offices that we did not ask for?

Please take the time to opt out of the phone book if you never use yours.

Image: How Can I Recycle This

    • Aaron Malys
    • September 10th, 2009

    The question becomes then, if the environment is so close to your heart, have you looked up the similar statistics on Bible and related religious material productions and their effect on the environment?

    • robin
    • September 10th, 2009


    I’m not sure I see the correlation here. I don’t receive Bibles or religious material unsolicited on my door step. I do get various religious groups that knock and ask if I’d like reading material, but if I say no, they don’t leave it.

    These phone books are unasked for and obsolete to a good deal of the people who receive them. Having them delivered year after year is a huge waste of time, money and of course environmental resources.

  1. Robin – I would bet you money that Aaron works for Yellow Pages. We had a similar thing happen when I posted about Yellow Pages Go Green:


    I’m totally with you…we basically Google anything we need to find. Even if the power goes out or our internet is down, Dave can find things on his iPhone faster than I could look them up in the Yellow Pages.

    • robin
    • September 10th, 2009


    Some of the comments on your post were a bit confusing. Couldn’t tell if they were for or against the opt out process.

  2. Robin,
    this is great information and very much needed. That’s a lot of trees that are destroyed for something that a lot of people don’t even use. I haven’t opened a phone book in years, but I did not know that you could opt out of receiving it. Thank you for sharing this great idea.