Every year, San Francisco's residents receive on their doorstep more than 1.5 million copies of the Yellow Pages. They did not ask for them. Most people who have high-speed Internet access (i.e. the overwhelming majority) do not want them.
Yet, in San Francisco alone, this monumental amount of flimsy, cheap paper, if stacked, would reach almost 6-times the height of Mt. Everest.
San Francisco Board of Supervisors President David Chiu recently unveiled a landmark proposal to end all of this waste. It is the first proposal of its kind in the nation.
The ordinance makes sure companies can only distribute hard-copy directories to the people who actually want them. The city's measure would establish a 3-year pilot program, during which Yellow Pages distributors would be barred from leaving books on the stoop of an unanswered door or face a $500 fine. A person would have to be at home to actively accept the delivery, or instead would have to explicitly request that they desire one to be left there.
In essence, it's the first-ever ban on the Yellow Pages you didn't ask for. After all, with Yelp, Google, and Yahoo a mere click away, you'd be hard pressed to find many people who want those ink-heavy tomes.
It's definitely not a controversial concept: it will save the city the $300 a ton it spends to recycle phone books, and it will also vastly reduce the environment footprint of the industry.
Unfortunately, the members of the Yellow Pages Association want to keep as much of their paper business as they can hang onto, given the advertising revenue they receive from hard copies of the phone book. For example, they have filed a lawsuit against Seattle's "opt-out' measure late last year and have already expressed displeasure with the San Francisco proposal.
Sign this petition to support San Francisco's ordinance.
A flood of national support would demonstrate the need for an end to wasteful Yellow Page deliveries everywhere, not just in San Francisco.
Photo credit: Petter Palander via Flickr