How Many PhoneBooks Do you Get?

Obviously with an ulterior motive in hand (but I don’t mind that), web directory urges us to abandon the traditional phone book and move online.

Phone and phone book

I won’t bore you with the details but in the UK legally every household has to receive a phone book free of charge. With more than one phone book being in circulation, households receive an average of 3 per year, and the 3 outdated ones add up to 750,000 tonnes of waste in the UK alone. have launched and even a Facebook group in order to encourage you to sign an e-petition to get the rules changed to an opt-in system for physical phone books.

Some more environmental facts about the phone books in the UK: Laid end to end they would stretch over half way around the world (22,500km); 680,000 barrels of oil wasted in phone book production (not including the wasted petrol used for their delivery to your doorstep); 2 billion litres of water is used in the production process (not to mention the amount of water wasted in the recycling process); and 437 million kilowatts of energy used in the production process.

Of course using a computer is sometimes easier than a phone book, it’s usually more comprehensive and up-to-date and with online mapping and directions often makes it easier too. However if the computer isn’t on, I still like to grab the nearest phone book. However, which one, as we currently have six! How many do you have? And do they allow you to recycle them in your area?


5 thoughts on “How Many PhoneBooks Do you Get?

  1. Personally, I think physical phone books are a gigantic waste of paper, energy and time. We get them delivered occasionally in New York (I think on an annual basis) and I may have one or two stashed somewhere in the kitchen, but it’s literally been years since I used one.

    It is true that at my parents’ house, if the computers are off, it’s handy to have one around to look up the number for a restaurant, but with services like Google 411 ( phone service, even that rationale pretty much goes out the window.

    Given the costs of producing physical phone books, I’d say an opt-in choice is a fantastic idea (particularly with print-on-demand technology available).

    Of course, electronic phone books aren’t free either in an ecological sense since they have to be powered by energy that often comes from a power plant. But as computers become more efficient and as we move more toward renewables (solar, wind, hydro, wave), the environmental costs of using our computers for such activities should drop.

    – Aaron Dalton,


  2. Thanks for your comment Aaron, you make a good argument, one that I definitely agree with. GOOG 411 is a service I’ve never use but looks great, thanks!


  3. In my opinion, almost all print media are in trouble. I own an online business, and we do almost all our advertising online. We constantly get sales pitches for local directories, and tell them no thanks.

    No I can see times where a phone directory is useful. Plumbers, electricians, and other local businesses. But the usefulness of print media is rapidly declining


  4. Thanks Lee, I do think print advertising is still a good choice for certain products, and specialized print media can still be good, especially at the much lower prices a lot are now forced to charge because of online competition. However the Internet has opened up the mass market for many businesses and is often a great complete replacement.


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