Killing Trees

“06880” reader Mary McGee wonders:

What’s with these phone books that get dumped a few times a year at our mailboxes?  I haven’t asked for them and I rarely, if ever, use them.  All the information I need can be found on the web.

This week, I picked up a book that numbered around 900 pages.  Two weeks ago, there were 3 or so books of that same heft dumped by my mailbox.

What is particularly irksome is that there are 5 mailboxes at the end of my driveway.  Apparently, my neighbors don’t use these tomes either because they pile up in front of my house until I get annoyed enough to take them all to the dump.

I understand that older folks, like my mother, use those books.  Wouldn’t it be better if they were allowed to request them, which would spare the majority of us from this litter?

I know, I know.  I sound like a cranky old lady.  Maybe it’s too early in the day and I haven’t had enough coffee yet.

Mary is not the only “06880” reader fuming over phone books.  Here’s an email I received 2 days after Mary’s:

We have just received our 7th phone book in a week.

The first one I took directly to the paper recycling bin, and put the plastic bag into its recycling bag.

I can’t remember when anyone in my family used a paper phone book rather than their mobile phone or computer to look up a number or search for a vendor.  I do appreciate that not everyone is as wired, but no one needs as many as we receive.

Three days later 3 books arrived, subdivided in some logic  left over from another era when one would put the yellow pages in a different place than the white pages.

Days later, in what I am sure was an error, the triumvirate of books reappeared.  The delivery was very thorough, even leaving a bags of books at an empty Compo Beach Road lot near a “for sale” sign.

I wonder if the RTM could discuss limiting the number of companies that distribute these books to every home in town.  Of course, I hope they would not limit my NY Times bag cover which arrives each day.

21 responses to “Killing Trees

  1. Follow the money! Full of advertising. Yellow pages have a cost per entry, don’t they? I would prefer to get it in one bi chunk that the daily postal bi-product.

  2. can we also do something about the “daily” connecticut times, wrapped in a yellow plastic bag that i thought was banned, that are tossed into everyones driveway everyday that go right to the recycling bin!

  3. We don’t need this books anymore, all the phone numbers are on line.

  4. I suggest – they are a great company that helps people reduce their unwanted catalogs, junk mail, etc. I typed “phone book” into their search field and many options popped up. Also, here’s an article about what they did in Seattle last month to address this problem:

  5. Why is it that it’s not considered litter when people throw these unwanted phone books and newspapers at my house from a car as they drive by? Is it really any different than throwing a cigarette butt out a car window??

  6. Elisabeth Keane

    Please do not assume that everyone’s research methods are the same. Maybe you don’t use your phone books but I certainly use mine. Over the years (and as recently as as last month) I have used those books extensively to find companies in whatever category I need throughout Fairfield County. Online searching often supplemented my findings in the directories. Perhaps there should be a way to opt out of receiving the phone directories if you do not wish to receive them. As to the plastic bags, whether as wrapping for phone directories or to keep the daily newspaper from being soaked when we used to get rain in these parts, I find all sorts of uses for those bags. I’ve got a collection of color-coordinated newspaper bags holding extra parts for various medical equipment. You could use a monochromatic approach if that is your preference. Newspaper bags also are good for storing those short bamboo stakes that gardeners use to support plants or, when used with gardening tape, to demarcate flower beds in early Spring. We used to store tennis balls in those bags. And some outdoor playthings and sports items. There are other uses for those bags if one thinks creatively and also does not wish to purchase plastic bags when there is the good luck to have a bag delivered each day. The annual bag containing the phone books also receives at least one further use and is used repeatedly until it can be used no more.

  7. Dick Lowenstein

    Too many phone books? Probably, yes. Phone books no longer needed? Definitely, no. For example, you’re looking for the number and address of a person named Fisher. You have some idea of his first name, at least the first letter of his name. Can’t find the Fisher you want, so you scan the page for Fischer. Ah ha, you find it.

  8. Outside of the opt out method becoming readily available, the yellow/white pages dropped at our door by multiple competing “yellow book companies” will see the end of it’s day when advertisers are smart enough to realize that no one (or very few) actually use them.

  9. The Dude Abides

    To me, it is litering for both the yellow pages and the Connecticut Post as well as the stupid rocks the put by my mailbox every so often. I do use the yellow pages, however and agree with Richard that they are still needed. But for companies to just throw their products on your driveway is just liter, which I believe is against the law. Call Ira Bloom and tell him to file a complaint. Just don’t tell him I suggested it. I live two doors down from him.

  10. These phone books are as ‘green’ as an oil slick, from the era of the crankphone and Murray Hill 2600…

  11. Exactly. I’m still seeing *last year’s* phone books in plastic bags near some mailboxes.

  12. Just take all those phone books to the building
    on the corner of Imperial and Post Road and
    put them in the bin they have for recycling.

  13. Newspapers are litter. They are completely unnecessary.

  14. Thought about this article yesterday as I “rounded the bend” at my office in Greenwich and ran smack into a tall pile of red-plastic-bagged phone books by the elevator. Hmmm, weren’t there in the morning. I think that even the bearers of these little gems don’t want anyone to see them being delivered. They know…

  15. The Dude Abides

    Actually, when I was in law school, I delivered phone books for some extra bucks (the good ole GI Bill was paying $413.00 a month then). I remember distinctly that we had to deliver the damn books to the doorstep of the house. So I will betcha that whomever is delivering now is being lazy. A phone call to the publisher would probably rectify the problem?

  16. Two years ago I took the time to find a number (online – of course it’s not published in the phone book itself) where I could opt-out from these “gifts”. Of course it was waste of time, I still get them.
    If you see how they deliver it you understand it couldn’t work. A guy with a pile of books walking and placing them on every driveway with a van following him. There’s no exception, EVERY place gets a copy. I doubt they have the process in place to selectively exclude any address.

  17. The Dude Abides

    On the doorstep??? Are you serious. They drop five or six at mailboxes. They need to only deliver upon request or create a central location where you can pick them up. Otherwise, it is just plain litering. Your attitude of nothing can be done is why nothing gets done.

  18. The Dude Abides

    On the doorstep? Are you serious. They drop five or six at mailboxes. They need to only deliver upon request or create a central location where you can pick them up. Otherwise, it is just plain litering. Your attitude of nothing can be done is why nothing gets done.

  19. John McCarthy


    1.) Local governments are looking to establish an Ordinance of $5 per book to the telephone companies for the delivery of unwanted books that end up in the trash and take up valuable landfills.

    2.) An alternative Ordinance being looked at is to require the telephone book to be delivered in a plastic bag and the directory company has to come back the following week to pick up the old book that has been placed in the reusable bag.

    3.) Building and Property owners are banning the bulk delivery of Yellow and White Pages to their facilities. They are tired of having to handle the books and the cost associated with the ones left over and old books that end up in their trash dumps.

    4.) Some Cities and Towns are looking to stop the delivery of Yellow and White Pages books and are using their litter laws as the tools to enforce their efforts.

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