Archives For Ban the Phonebook

With the Earth top of mind for most people today, we thought it made sense to illustrate the environmental and economic impact of print white pages production as a reminder that while the opt-in movement is slowly taking place across the nation, there is still so much more progress to be made.

Please share this image with those looking to make a positive change this Earth Day and if you haven’t already done so, visit and sign our petition to help us stop the waste!

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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?

When the economy crashed almost two years ago, we as a company did what everyone else did and trimmed the fat, which included our snack budget. In looking at what we spent on snacks, one thing that stood out to me was how much we spent on kitchen paper and plastic products for the convenience of our employees. These buggers are expensive!

going green,

It's easy to find ways to go green. (Image courtesy of Atul Tater via Flickr)

Before the budget was cut, we spent more than 3k a year on various and sundry paper cups, bowls, plates and cutlery. I thought to myself, if we purchased a dishwasher and people brought mugs, plates and silverware from home we could not only get our ROI within a year, but we could continue to provide the snacks that the employees were accustomed to having. We would lose a bit of convenience, sure, but we would also reduce the waste that our office generated, significantly.

To me, it was no longer just about saving money, but also about being part of the green revolution at the office! Most of us are conscientious at home but are we as conscientious at the other place we call home for at least 40 hours a week? We’re in Seattle for Pete’s sake, how hard could it be? Well, as it turns out…it’s not that hard.  Here are some examples of things that we did to green-ify our office kitchens:

  • We brought in compost bins.
  • We (of course) already had our recycling in place, but we created a separate bin for those annoying plastic bags we get at the supermarket.
  • We use phosphate free dishwashing detergent.
  • We use reusable plates, cups, bowls and cutlery.
  • We purchase recycled paper towels.

We also founded Ban the Phonebook, an initiative to promote opt-in legislation for the delivery of White Pages phone books. We’re at over 38K supporters, and growing every day! (Find us on Facebook here!)

So far, it seems like everybody here at WhitePages has been on board with this mini green revolution. Sure, I still occasionally have to pick paper towels out of the garbage and put them in our compost bins, but it is great to see how significantly we have reduced our waste. The revolution has to start somewhere, and I’m glad that our office is a part of it!

What does your office do to reduce waste and go green?

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