A Real Person's Recycling Bin
Opt Out of Phone Directories
Every year, A&T, the Yellow Pages, and other phone directories engage in a quaint 20th century ritual.
They drop bulky books full of phone numbers of people we don't call on our doorstep.
Paper phone books are obsolete; we look up businesses and friends on the web. The only remaining purpose of phone books is to make money for the phone company selling ad space to gullible businesses that haven't entered the 21st century.
Here's some reasons why you should take a moment to stop delivery of phone books before heaving them:
- Over five million trees are cut down every year to supply paper for phone directories.
- Recycling phone books costs taxpayer dollars. MILLIONS of dollars (see infographic at bottom of this page).
- Only 22% of people recycle phone books, so the rest wind up in a landfill, which works out to about 165,000 tons a year. Again, your tax dollars at work!
- Many places do not have recycling programs or exclude phone books due to the glossy inserts.
- Phone books dumped on your doorstep show that you're not home. This is a helpful clue for burglars.
(In fact, this last is a reason to ban ALL dumping of unsolicited printed materials from commercial businesses on your private property. If they want to spam you, they can bally well pay postage and rescue the post office).
So how do we block this enormous annual waste of paper?
STOP SENDING ME PHONE BOOKS, AT&T!
How to Stop Phone Book Deliveries — Hopefully.
The phone industry is quick to claim that they won't deliver phone books to people who don't want them.
Easier said than done. FIRST:
- Americans, go to www.yellowpagesoptout.com to opt out. HOWEVER... see below, as AT&T may ignore your request.
- Canadians, go to delivery.ypg.com.
- UK readers, you'll have to contact services individually. Here's a guide to blocking phone books in the UK.
- Sorry, Kiwis and Aussies and everyone else, I started doing research for everybody, but I'm finding it hard to use my U.S. based Google to find phone-book-blocking info in every country. Please take the time to look it up where you live.
AT&T Doesn't REALLY Want You to Opt Out, Does It?
How to Stop AT&T's YP - "Real White Pages" and Yellow Pages
AT&T's "Real White Pages" directory says right on the cover (above) that you can opt out of deliveries at www.yellowpagesoptout.com.
I did that over a year ago. But sure enough, I'm still getting the AT&T white pages.
So I called the phone number listed on the book, 1-866-329-7118.
I was told that:
- AT&T / YP doesn't honor opt-out requests from yellowpagesoptout.com. Instead, AT&T has a new, proprietary site that they want you to use to opt out of deliveries of their phone books. Here it is: mydirectories.yp.com.
- Catch #1: you have to fill in your email address, so YP can start sending you email spam. (Tip: set up a dummy email address that you use for address-harvesting websites like this.)
- Catch #2: When AT&T is ready to deliver a new directory, they'll call your home to confirm that you don't want it. And if you don't answer, they'll deliver it anyway, disregarding your "opt out" registration. Since most people work outside the home, this means that AT&T's "opt out" program is a sham, and for those few of us who do work at home, it's an unsolicited phone call to disrupt our work.
- Catch #3: You have to re-register with AT&T for this so-called "Opt Out" program every three years.
- Catch #4: When I tried to opt out over the phone, AT&T's operator wanted to know the serial number of the directory that had just been delivered to me. Upon cross questioning, she admitted that she was just going to block delivery of that particular phone book... not any of the others that AT&T sends out. I had to insist on blocking all of them.
Which leads me to recommend that you join me in signing the following petition, for all the good it may do us:
Petition to Make Phone Book Deliveries an OPT IN Service
- Help Stop the Waste! - BanThePhoneBook.org
Despite the website's name, this petition with over 100,000 signatures is not asking for phone books to be banned outright. Rather, the petition demands that phone book delivery become an OPT IN service only.
Share this page with friends and pass the word!
Poll: What do you think?
ziyena from the Somewhere Out There on February 10, 2014:
Thanks for this Hub! Like you, I find these directories a waste of tree life, but thankfully in this day and age, the paper directories are slowly dying out to online directories. Dex One Corporation doesn't have much time left to "waste" anymore! Would be nice to see you do an article on how to get US Postal system to quit delivering junk mail and marketing inserts as well :)
Ellen (author) from California on June 24, 2013:
Well, that's a strategy I haven't tried! Cheers.
Alas, I live in the surreal land of suburbia, and I fear that phone books on my stoop might signal "absent homeowner" to passersby. That's less of a concern in rural areas where only friends (and JWs) tend to reach your front door. :)
Stacie L on June 24, 2013:
Living in a rural community now, means that mailboxes receive many phone books, whether I want them or not.
After throwing them away, I've discovered that leaving them on the ground next to the mailbox for a few weeks will stop any more deliveries! LOL
peachy from Home Sweet Home on June 14, 2013:
great hub. In Malaysia, we don't get phone books or telephone directory book on our door steps. We have to head to the telephone head office, queue up and ask for a free phone book. Back then, we had to pay $5 per book. Now it is free. It had been a long time since I went to get the free phonebook, 2007! Otherwise, yellowpage is the best source in website.
LongTimeMother from Australia on February 27, 2013:
I am in Australia so our phone companies are different, but the problems are essentially the same. Phone companies deliver phone books to homes around the country annually. Not for the convenience of customers as far as I can tell, but to ensure they can continue charging high rates to advertisers, based on distribution numbers.
I live off the grid in a rural area now where the white and yellow pages listing local phone numbers are combined into one book. When I last lived in Sydney there were two huge books for white pages, and another two door stoppers for all the businesses in the yellow pages.
Given that I make every effort to live a sustainable lifestyle, I am supportive of saving trees and reducing waste. I like your 'opt-in' suggestion.
Some genius here in Australia, whose age I guess to be about 25, came up with a different idea for reducing the number of trees required to produce our local phone book. It is now printed in a font that is so small anyone over the age of 26 needs a magnifying glass to read it. The pages are smaller to match the tiny print.
On the very first page it says: "You will have noticed the new compact size of our Yellow Pages and White Pages book." There's further explanation but I'm trying to avoid eye strain.
The part that amuses me is the sentence that reads: "Free magnifying aids can be ordered." Am I the only one who thinks this is ridiculous?
Great hub. Voted up. :)
Ellen (author) from California on February 13, 2013:
You're right! I come down on them a little too harshly — I realize that for many people, paper phone books are still useful. I like the "call and ask for a new one" plan.
That hijacker sounds scary!
I do actually keep phone numbers for companies whose bills I pay, but I'm a little OCD. (Of course, that hard copy consists of statements from before I went paperless). On the rare occasions when the internet goes out, I find myself rummaging for my last paper bill in a panic. :)
Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on February 13, 2013:
Gosh, GreekGeek, I like phone books, and I live in a medium sized city that doesn’t get enough directories to be that annoying. AT&T in our area has stopped automatically delivering them. If I want a phone book now, I have to call them and request one. We didn’t receive a new phone book last year and so far haven’t been delivered one this year. Since I still have a two-year-old AT&T phone book, I probably won’t request one. Now Yellow Book is practically worthless and a different story.
Why do I like phone books? Well, first off sometimes it is inconvenient to have to boot up the computer and find a phone number, although I am getting more used to it. Truthfully, I guess it isn’t much more annoying than trying to find the phone book where Mr. BeJabbers last used it.
Once I didn’t notice that a rogue website had hijacked White Pages from me. Then I found a $29.95 charge on my credit card from the hijacker and had to go to a lot of trouble to get it removed. So beware of hijackers. I can’t get a phone number for the electric company off the computer when my power is out unless I keep it on a hard drive on a laptop. Then darn, the battery is low and it won’t boot up. I guess a person should keep a hard copy of essential phone numbers along with their emergency phone numbers in a secure place.
Anyway, you have great points about saving the trees. We are required at my employment to put the books in a special recycler, and that would be about 100 directories. How many trees would that be? Good hub. Voted you up.