Yellow Pages Environmental Forum

Setting the record straight

Posted in Editor Picks by Ken C on August 5, 2010
Tags: , ,

It can be frustrating for those that work in the industry to see posts like this recent one:  Get 100000 Canadians to opt out of the Yellow Pages – George Dearing

Not because this one person doesn’t want a book.  That’s not a problem.  If someone is among the less than 5% of people who have issues with a print book, fine, publishers all have opt-out programs now so they won’t send you one in the future.  But more so because of the ongoing perception that there is a direct correlation between a printed phone book and the loss of a tree somewhere on the planet.  The fact is that isn’t true, and I’ve written about it many times – here, here, and here are just a few examples.

But I don’t blame the public for their lack of understanding, I blame the industry.  How would someone know about how recycled white material, wood chips, and even some good old fashion trash are the sources of the content/fiber that makes up the pages of the a phone book – we’ve never bothered to tell anyone about it which is really perplexing at a time every industry is shouting about its environmental efforts.

I’m not sure why the yellow pages industry has been so shy about promoting where the source of its paper comes from, the recycling programs they coordinate, and even the local economic value they bring to the communities they publish in.   Perhaps it is an old hangover from the original one telephone company/old AT&T days.  The directory operations were always this strange non-telco unit that most of the senior managers in the telecom based company never really understood, but which generated a lot of revenue for them.  It was always one of the biggest, successful brand images in their local market.  So if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?

When I see these type of posts and can provide information, most reasonable people like George will acknowledge they were unaware of the process, are surprised, even reassured to see what really happens.  The few obtuse paper jihadists, whose comments you will  see sprinkled all through this and other blogs, well, no matter what factual content you provide them with it’s never enough for them  — the industry has rigged the numbers — we are still delivering to vacant houses — no one wants the books — or any of a dozen other rambling rants.  And then should another new book arrive at their door, my God, it becomes a major affront on their space and civil liberties.

But once again, I’m not sure we can totally blame them for their responses.  In a way we have conditioned them that no matter what they say or do, no matter how incorrect their commentary, the industry seems to sit back and ask for more.  It then usually comes down to having to meet with a local legislator who has a small handful of people complaining to their office on a regular basis to set the record straight.

I thought we were an advertising media.  Why aren’t we telling our story more frequently, more forcefully, more accurately so the greater public get to hear it??