“One Word: Plastics”

In 2015, phone books — particularly “yellow pages” — are passe.

If we need a business phone number, we ask Siri.

If we need to find a plumber or tarot card reader, we use Google, Yelp, or a squintillion other sources.

And don’t tell me that yellow pages are great for folks who are not internet-savvy. They’re the ones who need large print, which is not exactly the yellow pages’ forte.

Alert “06880” reader Gil Ghitelman sent this photo, showing an unsightly mess:

Plastics - Gil Ghitelman

Morgan Mermagen also noticed a recent plague of yellow pages, littering our lawns:

Phone books

Morgan calls it “a scourge on our neighborhoods,” and writes:

Right now, the law in our town is that you must opt out. Why can’t it be opt-in?

My neighborhood is littered with bags. A rare few use them. Some neighbors leave them to rot, to make a point. At best, they end up recycled.  It’s wasteful and ugly.

Morgan raised the issue with an RTM member. The official said they’d look into the phone book issue “again.” Morgan was surprised it had been addressed in the past.

“I am hopeful,” Morgan says. “An eternal optimist.”

Meanwhile, more plastic is on the way. A press release from the 1st selectman’s office says that effective tomorrow, the Minuteman newspaper will be delivered directly to subscribers’ driveways, not through the US Postal Service.

“The protective plastic bag is not subject to the Town of Westport’s Retail Checkout Bags Ordinance,” the announcement adds.


The papers will be delivered to homes of customers “who have previously requested Minuteman delivery.” I don’t know about you, but I never requested it — it could be the least newsy, most poorly written paper in the history of journalism — yet it is still dumped in my mailbox every week.

The good news: The delivery service will travel the route 3 days after tossing, and pick up “all newspapers that have not been retrieved by subscribers.”

The better news: If you don’t want one more unwanted newspaper cluttering your driveway, call 866-361-9064 to be removed from the list. (UPDATE: That number was not operational as of this morning; Minuteman officials promised it would be working later today. Here’s another number to try: 203-752-2711.)

48 responses to ““One Word: Plastics”

  1. Westport owes so much to our RTM “Gang of Four” who worked so hard to ban retail plastic bags — Liz Milwe, Jeff Weiser, Jonathan Cunitz, and Gene Seidman. It’s a shame that other towns haven’t followed our lead.

  2. Great title, Dan lol — Dustin Hoffman. First chuckle of the day. Another time period piece of the “golden years” — the 1960’s which makes me think of Westport always. Now that movie is quaint — used to be considered way out there. And yeah, too many trees destroyed for those dinosaurs plus the plastic issue. We no longer receive them.

  3. Joyce Barnhart

    What “statement” is Morgan’s neighbors making? “We are not home so come rob us”, or “we are foolish slobs who won’t bend over to pick up the books”? Telephone books are an anachronism. Without cell phone listings they’re not even particularly useful, but there’s no excuse except absence for not picking them up and putting them in the recycle bin.

  4. Hey Dan – the number you listed is now ‘not in service’.

    • It came directly from the selectman’s office press release!

      • I contacted Dewey Loselle, town operations manager. His very quick response:

        Hi Dan – You are correct that it is not in service at the present time which surprised us as well. We have contacted the New Haven Register which is the parent company of the Minuteman. Mr. Kevin Corrado, President and Publisher told us this morning that the new number dedicated for this “rollout of home delivery” will be in effect at the end of the day today to take all related calls on issues related to the paper. They are supposed to send a confirmation to our office tomorrow morning that it is indeed operational.

  5. After a lot of digging, I was able to find the opt-out number for the Yellow Books folks (the number on the yellow bag doesn’t do the trick): 509-577-7507.

  6. Robert Mitchell

    “the least newsy, most poorly written paper in the history of journalism”. Tell us how you really feel, Dan.
    While I don’t have your journalism experience, I personally find the Minutemen to be a good source of information about upcoming local events.

    • Michael Petrino

      Do you think Dan’s opinion might be colored by the fact that he is paid by Westport News? Follow the money.

      • Or by the fact that the Minuteman prints press releases with enormous “Man Lands on Moon” headline type size on page one?

        • Michael Petrino

          No responsive.

          • Michael–Dan does not hide the fact that he writes a column for the Westport News. He openly promotes that fact in the “ABOUT DAN WOOG” tab/link at the top of the blog.

            • Michael Petrino

              I did not say he hid the fact.

              • Michael–that seemed to be, at the very least, the strong implication of your initial post. In any case, you seem to be challenging Dan’s integrity here. If you really think Dan’s integrity would be so compromised by the money he gets for writing his Westport News column–which I can’t believe is that significant–why do you spend s much time reading the “06880” blog?

                • Ooo, Fred. Much too pugnacious. I know Dan writes for “the competition” but I had the same initial reaction Michael had – with a smile.

                  • Joyce, I suppose my reaction stemmed from the fact I know Dan so well and I took his statement about the Minuteman for the hyperbole it was undoubtedly intended as.

  7. Virginia Tienken

    I have tried both numbers and neither one works. Guess we will be picking up papers.

    • Robert Mitchell

      Paper came today, not to our driveway, but to the mailbox on the main road, same as the Yellow Pages.

    • Stacy Prince

      Sorry to hear that! I was able to use that number a few weeks ago, and they actually confirmed that I’d opted out in 2011. Interesting approach to customer service, regularly switching the working number to a “vanity toll-free number.” Ugh.

  8. Dan, I was a little taken back by your comment “– it could be the least newsy, most poorly written paper in the history of journalism .” The Minuteman may be lacking, but the Westport News or WestportNow are not exactly Pulitzer Prize winners themselves, nor even close to the levels of lets say the NY Times or the Wall St Journal or even the Christian Science Monitor or CT Post. To each their own Dan, sour grapes is not what I expect from you.

  9. If this was April 1 I would say Dan, this is a good joke. I would love to know why the MM has decided to go this way. Although there isn’t much news in the MM that I can’t also get in WN, I did like having 2 different editorial views represented. As someone who travels a lot, I do not want to have to remember to cancel my subscription whenever I’m gone. I guess I will be opting out of receiving the paper as I’m sure many will. Will be interesting to see how the advertisers feel about this.

  10. https://www.yellowpagesoptout.com

    Found inside the books, page 1

  11. Recently my neighbor and I just happened to catch up with the crew that delivered the plastic wrapped dead trees at the mailboxes located at the beginning of our street. We explained to the driver that we had all already opted out of delivery last year – I think we did it online. The startled, yet polite, driver suggested that we could just “throw them away” ourselves. We replied that we were not unaware of that option and insisted that a preferable solution, in our view, would be that the books in question be retrieved – by him. Which, to his credit, he immediately did. Safe until next year…

    • The NYT and WSJ are delivered as dead trees wrapped in plastic as well. Perhaps we should all get our news online.

      • Michael, it’s October 1st, which is, I must inform you, No Biting of Morley’s Leg or Other Body Parts by Michael Day. Feel free to resume regular programming tomorrow.

        • I was not trying to bite your leg. I do believe newspapers are becoming obsolete.

          • Nancy Hunter Wilson

            But not beautifully printed paper books, I hope!

          • Thanks, Michael, my leg feels much better.

            As a side note, I’ve cherished my print edition of the WSJ for several decades. It probably is, as you suggest, obsolete, but try as I might I just can’t seem to absorb things as well online. Which likely speaks to my own obsolescence.

  12. Nancy Hunter Wilson

    What is the big deal here? Surely, Westport has roadside recycling pickup on garbage days? If not, the town is lagging behind the times.

    I completely agree with Joyce Barnhart above. Also, I find it humorous that the newspaper delivery system drives around to retrieve papers, wasting gas, because people find it such a chore to put the papers and books into recycling bins.

    • Nancy Hunter Wilson

      I must qualify my remark: I agree with Joyce’s first comment. The Westport News vs. Minuteman thread above is none of my business (been there, done that!)

    • Part of the problem is the seemingly indiscriminate distribution of the aforementioned plastic wrapped dead trees. It appears that said products end up being “delivered” to anything that even remotely resembles an address associated with possible human activity – to judge from the evidence, this would appear to include clearly posted teardowns and plainly empty office buildings.

    • Well, if you pay for it, you do! Part of what keeps our taxes (comparatively) low is the fact that curbside pickup for garbage and recycling isn’t a town service. From the traffic we encountered at the transfer station for years – before hiring a service ourselves – many town residents still opt to do it personally. When it appeared, I did exactly what you suggested. We opted out and still get it, so I just recycle it.

      • Nancy Hunter Wilson

        So, you are saying that people actually choose to opt-out of garbage and recycling pick up so that they can save a few bucks in taxes, and still complain about garbage and recyclables?

        • Nancy Hunter Wilson

          What does private garbage pickup cost?

        • Elizabeth Thibault

          Sorry, I meant opt-out of getting the phone books. I don’t know that one can opt out of municipal services, but in any case, it’s not provided by the town. You pay privately or schlep it to the transfer station yourself. I pay for a year at a time, (and it was about a year ago I last paid, so I’m a little fuzzy,) but I think it’s between $40-$50 a month.

          • Nancy Hunter Wilson

            Thanks, Elizabeth. I had always assumed that Westporters paid a tax for this particular municipal service, rather than having to pay for private service. Perhaps the costs would be similar?
            Rural areas, though, are a different matter.

    • Nancy – the point is to try, little by little, to save the earth. Printing vast books which most don’t want only to have to expend money and energy (fossil fuels) to recycle them is so passé. Think green!

  13. Mary Schmerker

    Ahhhh! Plastic wrapped dead trees. We have the same problem here. I don’t know why advertisers don’t catch on. However, most neighbors do manage to pick up their dead trees and put them in their recycling bin. On a different note , the first job our now middle aged kids had, was throwing newspapers which they did on their pollution free two wheeled vehicles. Unless it was raining they were tied with a rubber band. It was a sad day when they were fired in favor of older carriers who drove gas guzzling four wheeled vehicles and used plastic bags. Progress?

  14. Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

    If you’ve ever been caught on the throne without toilet paper – you would love the phone book – Yellow Pages or otherwise.

  15. Nancy Hunter Wilson

    Will anyone tell me what private garbage/recycled material cost is in Westport?

  16. I swap the new phone books in for the old phone books every year… then never look at them again until the next year, when I’m swapping them again. Seems like a waste of paper.

    I would say that the Minuteman is a bigger (at least more frequent) waste of paper. Though, to be fair, I would also say that the Westport News is hardly much less of a waste of paper than the Minuteman.

    Nancy – if, like me, you are cheap, you can always drop garbage off at the dump for free!