Our annual mid-winter ritual: The rotting of the abandoned phone books

Penny Cherubino reports they're baaack: The thousands upon thousands of Yellow Book directories that just sit there, moldering and falling apart, their pages despoiling the streets (in her case, in the Back Bay).

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Phonebook exile

There was a discussion about this on the Davis Square LJ and somebody posted this link about getting rid of them on Saturday:

Hey guys!

For anyone who receives/received a phonebook this week/recently, and dislikes the
fact that phonebooks continue to be printed & distributed en masse:

I've reserved a ziptruck for this Saturday morning 1/8, and will be parking it someplace
prominent (I'll have signage) on Mass Ave in Central Square between 11 - 2 to collect
unwanted phonebooks. I'll then drop whatever is collected either on Yellowbook's
stoop in Burlington* or at the Cambridge DPW to have them recycled.

Feel free to forward. Thanks!

Becky

*pending Ben telling me I will be fined/jailed for trespassing/littering

@beckthis

How is this not littering?

I suppose the phone book company could argue first amendment...

We need a "do not deliver" as well as the do-not-call list...

If I were to haul the stack that has been kicking around in my front foyer for the past month or so (being used to prop open the door, kicked out of the door by the more security-conscious of my neighbors, being used to proper open the door, finally being kicked out onto the front stoop. Adam is right about the ritual!) back to the recycle bins, would I be in trouble for interfering with the distribution or some such?

Phone books...an endangered species

The phone book is going the way of the printed newspaper, for similar reasons, but sooner. My new "official" Verizon local book just arrived with about 25% fewer ads (yellow pages) than last year. White pages are also down as home lines are dropped. With only the cyberphobic left using the book, what businesses will continue to spend scarce ad dollars on something very few will see? No surprise that funeral homes are among the more prominent ads in the book now. Ad sellers, plus printing and distribution can't be cheap. Already obsolete, can they last much longer?

Home phones

I am one of those Luddites that still has a home line.
And my name is in the book. However the only people who find
my name are the various charities, politicians, and solicitors
who think the DNC list doesn't apply to them.

I do remember when you could look someone up in the phone book.
Not fondly, but it was something that just was.

Despite the confident

Despite the confident statements of the self-proclaimed digeratti, paper-based phone books are still better from some perspectives than the digital alternatives.

From a personal-use perspective, traditional phone books are comprehensive but often inconvenient. Net-based directories are convenient for many - but rarely if ever comprehensive (even two decades after their first appearance). So it comes down to which quality you value more (and that choice is contextual of course - I've worked in the mobile device industry since the late 80s, but I still use yellow-books et al when at my desk - because, quite frankly, they produce a better result).

Now environmentally, the production of a single PC or smartphone has at least several orders of magnitude more negative impact than a book - especially one produced with primarily recycled pulp like modern phone books are. So you could spend several lifetimes recycling your phone books and still not balance out the net resource/energy waste and environmental damage done by pitching a single old cell phone or Bannana Jr in the trash.

Not the right argument

The real answer is to NOT make things that get INSTANTLY recycled.

I agree that the books can have their uses for some people, but the ultimate waste is that they make more of these than they should, they distribute more of them to each building than there are units, and it seems like 9 out of 10 of them end up recycled or just sitting there in plastic bags for eons.

Your perception of how many

Your perception of how many get "instantly recycled" is based on a very narrow perspective. I would suggest that the situation would appear differently if one were to assess the neighborhoods of Boston which *aren't* primarily inhabited by twenty-something apartment dwellers (ie most of them).

The environmental impact from creating a few thousand too many phone books for downtown areas is probably less than that caused by the disposal of "obsolete" (ie 18 month old) cell phones thrown out by a single apartment building of fatuously earnest urbanites. Color me unimpressed by this yearly outpouring of shallow green outrage.

phone vs. phone books

see, the problem is that i have to recycle these phone books i didn't ask for. which i am more than happy to do, but it does irk me every year. seems like a waste - a waste to me, to the environment, and to the phone company who pays to print them.

when i no longer want my iphone, on the other hand, i don't have to recycle it. i can just walk around downtown with it in my hand and somebody will grab it and solve the problem for me!

Been around the area much?

If you had, you would know that they saturate EVERY neighborhood in the area with piles of useless and unwanted waste paper. You would also go back through the comments on UHub threads and find out that the massive overstacking of these unwanted phone books goes on in pretty much all types of neighborhoods in Boston and the surrounding area.

I live in a single family/two family area. There are six house numbers between each single family house on our street - meaning three even or odd house numbers between every house. There are no rentals on my street.

Guess how many phone books get dumped at each address? Three for every household, in a family neighborhood, not a college ghetto. This is not unusual at all - come spring thaw, there will be piles of six to ten of these damn things on every two-family house and triple decker porch.

So much for your "theory".

Tell me, does that make any sense to you? Hardly environmentally friendly to make deliberate waste to boost your distribution numbers, now is it?

Well maybe it does, since you probably work for the ad sellers or the company which generates this automatic trash waste. Let me know when I can make a mobile phone call on one, too. Maybe I won't toss them out as I get them. Or I'll give you a call and teach you how to make a proper argument that doesn't amount to "BUT THEY ARE NOT ORANGES!" to a discussion about apple waste.