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
A vast and growing majority of Americans now get their information online, via high-speed Internet connections. In this context, the automatic delivery of phone books on doorsteps every single year represents an enormous waste.
Cities can reduce their carbon footprint and save trees by ending needless phone book printing. Residents can stop feeling aggravated by receiving piles of phone books they do not want and did not ask for. And all taxpayers benefit from the money the city will save on recycling costs.
Yellow Page distributors have a history of opposing local efforts to limit their distribution abilities. That's why I am writing early to demonstrate my support for this measure. It also will set a great example for cities around the nation to take similar steps.
Thank you for your time,