Stop! Opt Out of Getting Telephone Books

phone books cannot go into your recycling stream

phone books cannot go into your recycling stream

When was the last time you used a printed telephone book to look up a phone number? In fact, with cell phones, how many phone numbers are actually in telephone books these days anyway? Directory publishers usually do make their listings available online, but the printed books are big money-makers for them as print ads fetch gazillions, even though their effectiveness is waning and much harder to track. It’s time for telephone book companies to face the fact that their products are becoming obsolete to many and should only be delivered if someone wants them. The Yellow and White Page industry have failed to understand the social, economic, and political green movement across the country…so let’s help them!

picture-93Most individual yellow and white page publishers have “no deliver” lists they can add you to, but they will not be held accountable if the books show up anyway. The website will find your local/regional directory pages publishers and ask them not to deliver on your behalf. The site warns, though, that there are no guarantees with this either. So go right now and add your name, pledge your support, and we can make a change! is helping municipalities and local governments around the country establish ordinances to mandate Yellow Pages and White Pages only be delivered to home and offices that ask for them. Municipalities and local government that provide trash services are extremely concerned about the landfill cost and why they have to absorb the cost of handling the telephone directories.


  • 19 million trees, 7.2 billion barrels of oil, …:
    According to more than 500 million phone directories — nearly two books for every American – are printed and distributed every year in the U.S.. To produce 500 million telephone books it takes:

    • 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
    • which then generates 268,000 cubic yards of solid waste (not including the books themselves, many of which eventually end up in landfills in areas where recycling is not available or convenient
  • Only 10% of phone books are recycled:
    No specific data is available but a random sample from this site shows people are recycling these books at a rate of less than 10%. Most respondents just throw them in the trash can.
  • Phone Books cannot go in your regular recycling stream due to paper quality:
    Many recyclers won’t accept telephone books because the fibers used to make the books’ lightweight pages are too short to be reformulated into new paper. In fact, mixing old phonebooks in with other waste paper can even contaminate the batch, hindering the recyclability of the other paper fibers.
  • When books are recycled, think of the transportation and logistics costs:
    You can visit a site called to find the closest recycling center to take your used and or unwanted books for recycling. And this all sounds great except how much gas and energy is being used by the individual to go and recycle a telephone book that you did not want in the first place? So I am getting an unsolicited book and being told to recycle it. How about not giving it to me in the first place?
  • If you can get them recycled, yes there is a great savings:
    According to Los Gatos, California’s Green Valley Recycling, if all Americans recycled their phonebooks for a year, we would save 650,000 tons of paper and free up two million cubic yards of landfill space. Modesto, California’s Parks, Recreation & Neighborhoods Department says that for each 500 books recycled, we save 7,000 gallons of water, 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space, 17 to 31 trees and 4,100 kilowatts of electricity, enough to power an average home for six months.
  • And there are some odd uses for exisiting phone books:
    • Their pages make excellent fire starters in a wood-burning fireplace or outdoor fire pit.
    • Balled up or shredded phonebook pages also make nice packaging filler in place of problematic polystyrene “peanuts.”
    • Phonebook pages can also be shredded and used as mulch to keep weeds down in your garden.
    • The paper is compostable and biodegradable and will eventually return back to the soil.
    • Those with an artistic bent can use old phonebooks to make flipbook style animated drawings, as described by animator Robert Truscio on his “Drawings That Move” instructional website.
    • There are also a number of telephone book collectors; some who make money selling their stock to those with a historical interest or who are researching family genealogies. Lifelong collector Gwillim Law sells old phonebooks from all 50 U.S. states as well as from most Canadian and Australian provinces.


Environmental Issues from PPM
Composters and Composting


Peoplepoweredmachines is a family owned business, 11 years old, always selling environmentally sound products such as reel mowers, electric mowers, composters, rainbarrels, solar products and more.


2 responses to “Stop! Opt Out of Getting Telephone Books

  1. By the way, the real way to bring down phone books is educate the phone book advertisers! If they only knew how much green money they are wasting and if their conscience only knew how many trees they are killing by supporting a loosing cause. I hate to give this info out to pest control companies, but my green conscience tells me to. Here are my results for phone book calls: Phone Book Wasted Advertising Money
    – Phoenix Pest Control Guy

  2. peoplepoweredmachines

    This is a great bit of knowledge! Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s