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March 7, 2012 / straymoon

A waste of trees

Every year in January I see a pile of new phone books in the lobby of my apartment building.  I’ve noticed that only a handful of them are taken by residents.  In a week or two, the same temporary people hired by the phone company to deliver them then return to collect the unwanted phone books.

Do we need phone books?

Do you have a phone book at home or office?  People who have land line phones are eligible to get them.  But many people, especially the younger generation, don’t have land line service any more.  While I won’t say I’m in the category of “younger generation,” I also gave up my land line service two years ago.  But in the past two years (maybe more like 10 years), I have never felt the need for a phone book.  When I need the phone number of some business, I go online.  I not only find the phone number on the internet, but also more information about the business.  I also don’t need to look up the phone number of people, because I don’t call people I don’t know.

What’s in the phone book?

I picked up a phone book from the stack and opened it to examine for the first time in many years.  Nothing has been changed: business names and phone numbers in small print along with many business ads raging from small to full-page spreads.  It’s obvious that these advertisers are covering the production costs of phone books, which also make a profit for the phone company.

What’s the future of the phone book?

I closed the phone book and walked away.  It seems pathetically sad and ironic for the phone company to promote paperless billing while printing so many unwanted phone books.  Why can’t  they just create online phone books?  Or if they want to keep printing phone books, can they at least create phone books with large print?  I’m sure many elderly people with no internet access would love a more user-friendly phone book.  Are mass-produced (and tree-killing) phone books really necessary?  When was the last time you looked up a number in a phone book?

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