The folks at Yellow Pages still insist on printing and distributing gazillions of paper copies of the phone book, whether you want them or not. And why wouldn’t they? In this age of digital technology, where else could you readily find such useful information? Well, there’s Google and Yelp, and the millions of websites they link to, and of course, there’s the Yellow Pages own website (myYP.com) which contains essentially all the same data as the printed phone book. But who wants to bother with fishing a smart phone out of their pocket and clicking a button to access a world of information, when you can just walk to the kitchen (if you're home), and rearrange your cupboards until you eventually dig the Yellow Pages out from underneath a bag of kitty litter in the bottom of the pantry?
It’s possible that I am being unnecessarily smarmy about all the paper and energy that are wasted in the production and distribution of the Yellow Pages. It’s not that I am mortally offended by the existence of telephone books, and I am not even saying they are completely unnecessary. I’m sure there are those who can’t get (or don’t want) access to the internet who probably still use the phone book. And even for the rest of us, it’s occasionally helpful, once every three years or so, to be able to get your hands on a phone book when you can’t find a decent cell phone signal or wireless connection. I don’t begrudge anyone their right to make telephone books for just such instances. I simply resent the (seemingly bi-weekly) automatic home delivery of telephone books that I’ll never use. It’s annoying, and more importantly, it’s wasteful.
I’m not known for my overzealous commitment to recycling (I DO participate in our community’s recycling program, but I have to admit that I’m not giving a restaurant quality dishwashing to that empty plastic ketchup container so that it can be recycled), but even I can’t stand to let half a dozen 600 page books pile up uselessly in my cupboards.
So, I decided to find out how I go about getting off the phone book delivery list forever. As it happens, the folks at the Yellow Pages corporation are hyper-aware of the public perception of the wastefulness of automatic phone book delivery, and consequently, they have made opt-out instructions readily available. They have actually listed the opt-out website, cleverly named YellowPagesOptOut.com, right on the front cover of my new phone book, and included written instructions for opting-out on page 2-3 of the Yellow Pages (further evidence that the Yellow Pages people know they are probably pissing you off by even delivering the phone books in the first place). They also take up a page or two with an absurd diatribe about the ultra-desirable 100% recyclability of telephone books, versus the less environmentally friendly “electronic waste”. To the degree that spam in my email inbox is annoying, I suppose there is something to that argument, but I have filters for that.
I accessed the opt-out site and followed the over-complicated steps required to “manage my directory selections” (I’ll take none of all available directories please). Maybe someday I’ll regret this bold decision to reject my complimentary telephone book delivery, but I’m prepared to suffer the consequences and I hope you are too. I hope you’ll take a minute (or 14 minutes as it turns out) to opt-out of your quarterly force feeding of phone books as well.
And what if I have acted in haste? In the highly unlikely event that I desperately need to find the phone number of that new dumpling restaurant at the precise moment the internet crashes, while phone service remains miraculously in tact, I’ll just eat my words.