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Seattle Cracks Down on the Wasteful Plague Known as the “Yellow Pages”

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By HVnews on May 6, 2011

The Yellow Pages haven’t been relevant in about two decades. Sure, it could still get by a little bit in the 90s because the Internet wasn’t quite up to speed, but now that the Internet delivers relevant information at the click of a mouse button, the big yellow book seems downright archaic.

When was the last time anyone under the age of 65 used a Yellow Pages? Yet, the lunky books keep on coming, like an onslaught from Moses during the delivering of the plagues. There they are on your doorstep, taunting you to throw them out and add more trash to the environment.

To that end, the city of Seattle has set up this website, www.seattle.gov/stopphonebooks, where residents can opt out of delivery.

Seattle residents have 30-days before a scheduled delivery to opt out on the new website. If the yellow directory still comes, publishers can be fined up to $125. The ordinance also imposes a 14-cent fee for every book delivered.

The crackdown — the first of its kind in the nation — is being championed by City Councilmember Mike O’Brien, who says residents are tired of phone books cluttering their houses. On top of that, O’Brien says, 2 million yellow-pages books are recycled in Seattle every year at a cost of $350,000.

“The city of Seattle cares about the environment and it’s extremely frustrating to return home someday to find five pounds of yellow pages on your porch that you’re never going to use,” O’Brien said.

To which, the fine folks at the Yellow Pages association asserted that they have had their own opt out site since February — www.yellowpagesoptout.com.

O’Brien countered that the Yellow Pages opt out site is merely a suggestion, while the one established by the city is mandatory.

The council member opted out last year only to receive yellow pages at his door two months later. Frustrated, he announced on his website that people could drop off unwanted books at his office, and was amazed when nearly 1,000 flooded in.

“People were upset enough to drive downtown, park their car, walk up to the second floor and drop them off,” O’Brien said. “Even people who use the yellow pages say, ‘I don’t need three copies, just this one.’ “

Finally! Maybe other cities will adopt a similar policy. It’s not even the wastefulness of a useless product — which, hello, it’s really wasteful — one that is more likely to be used as armor for amateur jousting competitions amongst bored teenagers or makeshift booster seats for flustered parents as opposed to its intended purpose.

But it’s so annoying how it just keeps showing up at your door three times per year. And every time, all you can do is meekly hang your head in exasperation and then toss it into the cupboard.

The Yellow Pages are like a bad Kafka novel played out in real life.

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