This week, Belgian Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne announced that the country would adopt an opt-in system for residential telephone directories – appropriately enough, via Twitter. Since printed directories have effectively been superseded by online directories, from 2011, white pages directories will not be delivered in Belgium unless a consumer requests one.
It’s estimated that this would save 3,000 tonnes of paper. In the UK, we could save a staggering 36,900 tonnes of paper if a centralised opt-in system was setup for all printed directories!
This announcement marks a key turning point in the way that countries deal with the environmental menace of unwanted phonebooks, and so the ‘Say No To Phonebooks’ campaign team is calling on Ofcom to introduce a similar ruling in the UK. With over 12,000 signatures on our Downing St ePetition, there is a huge amount of public support for the government to help establish a centralised opt-in system for phonebooks.
Now is the time for Britain to be at the forefront of environmental change in Europe. A Europe-wide opt-in system would be a massive plus for the environment and complement the EU directive to reduce landfill.
Minister Quickenborne announces that Belgium will adopt an opt-in system for residential telephone directories
In the same week that we announced the results of a competition and survey we ran with school children about unwanted phonebooks (75% think they should be delivered on request only, by the way) we received an email with some excellent creative work from St Mary’s school in Folkestone. They did a brilliant job of finding an use for unwanted directories.
The school is currently aiming for an Eco award and so hosted an eco afternoon where each class had the task of creating something out of unwanted yellow pages. One class created a ’Yellow Brick Road’ from directory pages which every child laid along the path to the school hall. Others made origami birds, bird nests and much more. But our favourite is this amazing chicken which is now standing guard over the birds nests. The left over paper will be used for the bedding for real chickens which are arriving in April. Fantastic stuff!
If you’ve got children at a loose end this easter, why not try out some origami too?
Download Easter Origami Instructions >>
In the news today is the Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40) workshop being hosted by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, at City Hall. Representatives from 30 countries around the world will share ideas about minimising rubbish and recycling.
Well we have a very simple, low impact idea that will save at least 40,000 tonnes of waste across the UK every year (not to mention £3m of council funds). Let’s move to an opt-in system for phonebooks sooner rather than later (because either way, you know it will happen eventually) and send phonebooks on their way with the cheque book!
You have only 7 days left to sign the ‘Say No To Phonebooks’ epetition. If you haven’t done so already, sign it now: http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/NoPhonebooks/
On Friday, Generous.org.uk covered the news that we’ve exceeded 10,000 signatures on our ePetition. It’s great to get recognition from a site that says its about ‘finding small ways to change the world in a big way’. We couldn’t think of a better way to describe the ‘Say No To Phonebooks’ campaign!
Drilling down a little deeper on their site and we can see they’ve recently started their own ‘Generous action’ encouraging people to opt out of receiving a yellow pages directory. This action was the result of almost 150 people retweeting their instructions for opting out of receiving this phonebook recently.
This brought us to a point that’s been repeated a couple of times by printed directory advocates in - ‘people already have the option to opt-out and the numbers of people taking up this option are relatively low’. Well, perhaps if these instructions were easy to find at the front of phonebooks and on directory websites, maybe the number of people opting-out would be much higher and indicative of how people feel about these unwanted directories? It will be interesting to see how this figure increases with sites like Generous and tweeters spreading the word….
As the number of signatures on our Downing St ePetition climbs to almost 8,000, its worth pointing out that unwanted phonebooks aren’t just causing waste problems in the UK.
In Australia, green bloggers are claiming, “Phonebooks are heavy, thick, and mostly unwanted due to the arrival of the on-line phone directory and mobile phones! When was the last time you used one of these paper dinosaurs? Who is sick of getting them each year, and never using them?” (Read the full Simple, Green, Frugal Co-op post).
While in the US, one pastor has claimed that understanding cultural evolution over the last decade can help communications become more like YouTube and less like phonebooks - something thats “picked up and promptly deposited in the trash”. He went on to say, “Heavy printed phone books represent more than telephone numbers and ads. They represent the past, communication forms that used to work the best, and a dog-eared determination to hang on to the past no matter what” (Read the full Barry Whitlow post).
With this international resentment growing, it’s encouraging to see that US lawmakers are going so far as to propose fines for unwanted phonebooks (Read full 9news.com article). Isn’t it time the UK government started to address the issue rather than just turning a blind eye?
The Local Government Association (LGA) has called on householders across the country to wage a war on needless phone directories as they take note of the ‘Say No To Phonebooks’ campaign analysis that revealed it costs £7.5m a year for taxpayers to clear up the mess of phonebooks. You can read the full release here where the LGA explains that the ’£7.5m spent collecting and disposing of phone directories could pay for 491 teaching assistants or 259 social workers, or it could be spent filling in approximately 108,700 potholes’. Surely a much more worthwhile cause?
While this latest announcement has been picked up by the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail, we think it’s worth us responding to Age Concern in the Daily Telegraph article. The ‘Say No To Phonebooks’ campaign is calling for a system where printed directories are be available only on request and not delivered automatically. This will balance the need for directory access for the elderly with environmental and government expenditure concerns.
Over the weekend, Junk Buster have reported thousands more people have contacted Yell, Thomson & BT to ask to be excluded from future phonebook deliveries. To take action today, sign up on JunkBuster’s site and sign our petition on the Downing St website. Time is running out to sign the Downing St petition so forward the link on to all your friends and colleagues to make your voice heard.
Earlier this month, Yellow Pages announced it was going to reduce the size of its directory for the first time in 40 years. A result of reduced listings and increased environmental concerns no doubt. Yell also claims that ‘its reduced height and width means it will be small enough to fit through standard size letter boxes at households and businesses’. Well, if you’re going to do that Mr Delivery Man, please respect the sticker on my mailbox that says ‘No Junk Mail Please’. Although I’m starting to think even the delivery guys agree with us….
Say What to Phonebooks????
In an article in The Independent in December entitled “Everyday products made obsolete during the “aughts”, the paper comments,
“Phone books: a large waste of paper, considering mobile phones are not listed, and information is accessible online, plus more.”
These are our thoughts exactly!
To see the full article click here
Like us, we’re sure that many of you are watching the most recent series of Gavin and Stacey and it’s great to see that the sentiment of the Say No To Phonebooks campaign has filtered into popular TV Culture.
In episode 3, when looking for the details of a curry house, Pamela (or Pamelaaaaarrrr as Smithy would say) says
“I don’t know why they keep sending those yellow pages, our last three are still in the plastic. We just use the internet now if we want to find anything!” (12 minutes and 50 seconds)
Nicely said Pamela.
Watch the episode on the BBC iplayer
When was the last time you used a printed phonebook?
192.com and the ‘Say No To Phonebooks’ campaign have teamed up with origami expert, Mark Bolitho, to provide three easy to follow guides that make use of those unwanted phonebooks by creating origami Christmas Tree, Star and Angel decorations.
To download the instructions and to watch the videos visit the origami decorations page.
So don’t just throw your useless phonebooks away! Why not get the kids or your colleagues involved and make something fun this festive season.
Over 75 million printed phonebooks are produced and delivered in the UK every year. That’s 62,000 tons of unwanted waste!
Did you know that the annual production of phonebooks squanders:
• Enough electricity to power 59,000 homes for a year
• 680,000 barrels of oil (the annual consumption of 67,000 people)
• Two billion litres of water, enough to fill 800 Olympic swimming pools
• £7.5 million of council waste management budget
The production and recycling process for 62,000 tons of phonebooks equates to 79,360 metric tonnes of wasted carbon emissions!
Make a stand against this unnecessary waste of resources and sign the petition supporting a centralised opt-in system for phonebooks. The petition already has over 6700 signatures with that number growing daily.- http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/NoPhonebooks/