When Was Your Last Time?

Liz Powell —  January 20, 2011 — 6 Comments

We launched our Ban the Phone Book initiative a little over a year ago to support consumers, regulators and telephone companies in their efforts to curb the unsolicited, and unnecessary, printing and delivery of white pages phone books. In this short time frame, significant progress has been made on the opt-in front with our campaign (50k signatures!) and even more importantly, at a greater level, across the US where at least  15 states have been granted permission (either statewide or across certain counties) to quit printing residential listings. While we are THRILLED with this progress, this leaves at least 70% of the US that has yet to embrace the opt-in movement (or just rejected it all together, ahem Maryland), including the great progressive state of California and our home-state, Washington. This just isn’t going to cut it for us. So, with the help of Harris Interactive, we went and gathered even more proof that white pages phone books are becoming increasingly irrelevant. Here’s what we found:

  • Nearly 7 out of 10 (70 percent) American adults rarely or never use the white pages phone book for looking up phone numbers and addresses for people or businesses
  • 87 percent support opt-in initiatives where they would receive the phone book only if requested (opt-in)
  • 60 percent of online adults find the contact information they need through online channels (online directories—29 percent, search engines—28 percent or social networks—3 percent)

Perhaps the most shocking find is the fact that only 22 percent of adults actually recycle their white pages phone books, which supports our previous estimate that 165,000 tons of white pages phone books end up in landfills every year. This statistic, combined with Ban the Phone Book’s estimate that five million trees are cut down each year to publish white pages phone books and that up to $17 million in annual taxpayer money is used to fund those books that are actually recycled, is further proof that this is a very real environmental and economic issue that needs more attention.

And, so, to further research the environmental impact and taxpayer costs of producing phone books, WhitePages is offering a $10,000 research grant for a student at an accredited university. With the grant, we hope to capture timely and accurate research that provides greater environmental and economic details about the production, distribution and disposal of white pages phone books so that what happened in Maryland does not happen in DC or California, or Washington or, well, the list goes on and on…

Besides, can you even remember the last time you used a white pages phone book?

6 responses to When Was Your Last Time?

  1. zanyhumors@yahoo.com'

    I used the phonebook the other day. The listings are vague compared to the internet. Quietly I moved the useless book to the side and used it to hold a drying airplane my kid finished.

  2. albertkaufman@gmail.com'

    Hello, how refreshing! we’ve actually got some legislation going forward in the OR Senate right now – SB 525, moving our state to an opt-in system for all phonebooks! Would love support. Here’s a little cartoon I made up about the issue.


    I’d love support, If you live in Oregon, please contact your state Senator and support SB 525! Text of bill (feel free to copy for YOUR state) and current progress


  3. albertkaufman@gmail.com'

    Hi, can someone from your org. please get in touch? Thanks. We have legislation pending in Oregon. I’d love your help/support if you’re willing.

  4. planetbubblesuniverse@yahoo.com'
    Janet Planet Bubbles Tarver February 12, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    Hey, I used the book this morning. When making a phone call to a place I don’t call often, I sure don’t want to turn on the machine, and then wait a minute and then go to my section, another minute, and then find the phone number with a Google search. What a hassle. Yes, I have a land line. The solution, only deliver them to people who have land lines, or even better for them to only deliver them to people who want them, perhaps charging a small amount. Because I have trouble reading fine print, in the phone book I write important numbers that I have looked up in the margins which is really helpful. Also many places, such as city halls and doctors change their numbers every so often and only the new phone book has them, or at least I can get in touch with the operator and get the newer phone if I have only the old one to go on. Please don’t take my phone book away. I always recycle it and would never just throw it away.

  5. fainesthasis0@gmail.com'

    Hi! I’m from Colombia and i think this whole campaign you guys and working on is really refreshing and has given me some ideas for me to use it no only on my own house but teach ‘em to all the people i know.

    Thanks Mrs Powell.

  6. pennyguthrie0@yahoo.com'

    I don’t always use the printed business directory because I know that online directories are more updated, and have more detailed information. It’s amazing how much a free business directory could make everyone’s lives a bit easier. Keep up the good work!

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