Friday, July 16, 2010

Phonebook Waste

I'm no environmentalist, but the printing and distribution of all these phone books seems like a tremendous waste of resources.

I'd guess that we're looking at about 350 phone books (split between white and yellow pages) placed alongside the mailboxes in my building.

A building consisting of about 200 apartments' worth of predominantly young, professional residents. I can probably count the number of residents over 40 on one hand.

When was the last time anyone under 40 used a phone book? The Internet is a far more useful database for finding business phone numbers.

And what of residential phone numbers? Well, if I didn't give you my phone number, and if you don't know how to reach me via e-mail, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, foursquare, or MySpace, then you probably don't have much business calling me!

You really don't have to be an environmentalist to object to this waste. Paper may figuratively grow on trees, but trees don't grow back overnight. I would much rather leave all that timber intact for use in other products, to drive down the cost of timber, or just for the sake of having a few extra trees lying around.

Similarly, the resources used to pay people to print and distribute these phone books—among any number of collateral tasks—could be used to pay people for things we would rather have.

This also doesn't mean we need the government to force the telephone company to stop printing all these phone books. Instead, we need to shout to the phone companies, "HEY, DUMMIES! We don't use your crummy phone books, so stop printing so many of them!"

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