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Is It Time to Ban Phone Books?

Should we ban phone books or at least make them opt in?
Written by Doc , Contributor

Doc's number has always been unlisted (don't ask), and I have to say it's been a few years since I've actually looked a phone number up in the White Pages of the phone directory. But each year- like clockwork- a new version of the phone book shows up on my doorstep whether I need it or not.

So should we ban phone books or at least make them opt in?

For one group (banthephonebook.org), the answer is a resounding "yes."

According to the group's Website, an estimated 5 million trees are cut down each year to create white pages phone books and that according to a recent survey conducted with Harris Interactive, only 22% of recipients recycle when disposing of them. In addition, the group's own survey shows that almost 75% of consumers are completely unaware of the environmental and financial impact in printing, delivering, and recycling these books. Given that many people likely use online directories, social networks, and mobile phone applications to find the contact information they need, it simply does not make sense to have the white pages phone books forcefully delivered every year.

According to a recent Harris Interactive survey, 87% of consumers would support an 'opt-in' program (only receive a white pages phone book if you request one) if they knew it would have a positive impact on the environment and save taxpayers money.

Doc is a big fan of freedom of choice, but he's also a free-market advocate who believes direct marketing (which the phone book should now be considered) should be one of the tools companies use to reach consumers. If we ban phone books then what's to stop banning catalogs and other printed marketing materials?

I'd love to hear from readers what they think of this movement. Should we ban phone directories or at least make them opt-in?

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