Instead of your fingers doing the walking, it looks like the Yellow Pages and similar phone directories will be soon taking a hike in a community near you. Both San Francisco and Seattle have passed new laws recently limiting the distribution the Yellow Pages, Yellow Book, and other phone directories.
According to the story by Elizabeth Daigneau in the July 2011 issue of Governing magazine, in 2010:
“…San Francisco alone received 1.6 million Yellow Pages books for 800,000 residents, creating nearly 7 million pounds of waste.”
San Francisco’s new three-year pilot program, which was adopted in May limits the distribution of phone books to households that actually accept them or give prior approval to them being dropped off at the address. The city’s Director of the Department of the Environment estimates they spend $1 million a year processing phone directories through the waste system.
Seattle has taken a different approach. The city adopted an ordinance in October 2010 allowing residents to opt-out of receiving phone directories. It is estimated that Seattle spends $350,000 per year disposing of unwanted phone directories.
Given the options easily available on the internet, one finds the days of the traditional phone book waning. While there will be some market for them, they will not be the force they used to be, especially when numbers and addresses are reachable through a click of mouse, stylus, or touchpad. In addition, so many people either have unlisted numbers or only use cell phones anymore, the directories are often not the resource they once were.
In my lifetime, we have seen the near-total departure of the rotary dial phone, the slim line phone, the wireless home phone, the 900 megahertz phone, local phone companies, operator assistance, and the proverbial pay phone. Heaven knows what superheroes do anymore to change into their outfits. For Eco-Dude, the pickings are getting mighty slim – maybe tanning booths?