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Morning Poll: No More White Pages?

by ARLnow.com October 14, 2010 at 10:42 am 2,892 34 Comments

How about this for an environmentally-friendly proposition:

A company says it can save 1,600 tons of paper each year by discontinuing a free publication that only 11 percent of recipients actually use.

That company is Verizon, and the publication is all local White Pages directories in Virginia. The company placed an official notice in the Virginia edition of the Washington Post classifieds today, announcing that it’s lobbying the state for permission to stop sending out residential phone books. The Yellow Pages would still be printed.

What do you think?


  • RJ

    Great poll. Put it in the White Pages too and see if the outcome is the same.

  • SD

    It’s likely the demographic that reads blogs/frequent internet users are the ones less likely to use white pages. It’s the probably some of the older generation or those with less access to the internet who still use the paper version.

    • BrownFlipFlops

      That’s a good point.

    • Rover

      Agreed. Elderly people likely still want the white pages (yellow too). Verizon should be required to send them if the customer requests them.

      • Katie

        Nah, they’re all on Facebook, writing “that’s great honey. xxgrandma”

  • bob

    Just make it opt-in, or charge $1 for it.

  • AQ

    Why can’t Verizon send a small postcard to their customers, indicating that those who want the white pages should return it.

    • LP

      Huh?

  • Mike
    • el fat kid

      hah.

  • BrownFlipFlops

    Yellow Pages. They plunk ’em down once (twice?) a year to keep the numbers up. They go to sales prospects, and talk about circulation. The numbers are how many got dumped on the sidewalk, not how many actually had the plastic taken off.

    Do you think they’d put them straight into my recycling bin, if I left it open, at the end of the driveway? It would save me the trouble of picking them up, and chunking them straight in.

  • PikeHoo

    The simplest way to solve this problem is to institute a nominal fee for the directory – say $2. Only those who request it will get it resulting in less paper consumed for the people and likely less production cost for Verizon.

  • charlie

    it is absurd to have these hunks delivered. everyone in my neighborhood (SF established homes) seems to put them straight into the recyling bin, without even removing them from the bag.

  • Interesting

    It’s funny to me that people all over this nation believe that less paper is more “Green” or “Environmentally-Friendly”. So many believe that forests all over the world are destroyed to make paper, but that’s really not the case. Paper companies grow their own trees, and have actually increased the number of trees in this world. Deforestation is not from the paper industry. I also hear “well, paper fills up our landfills and is not green”. While most people still don’t recycle, paper is the least of our worries in landfills. Paper decomposes fast and creates gases that can be contained and used for energy.

    Everyone wants to go “Green” and use the internet instead of paper. While that’s much faster, I disagree that it is better for our environment. While I don’t know how much energy it takes to send emails or post comments. I do think we are only trading one cost for a bigger one. A bigger cost that is less “green” than paper.

    Everyone seems to think that email is free, but it is not. Most of the population had to pay for that computer, for the internet service, and for the electricity to power the computer and the router to send that email. While we all try to justify those costs because we spend most of our day on the computer sending many emails a day. We also post many blogs and comments to blogs. We post status messages to social sites. We do all this and each time we do it, it costs money and uses energy. This energy is being created by fuels like: coal, natural gas, nuclear, hydroelectric, other renewable, or petroleum. A few of these don’t seem “Green” to me. Just to mention one, I see coal and don’t think “green”. Coal is a Non-renewable resource and therefore by definition is NOT “Green”. While you might think, that’s only one of the energy sources out there, coal generates 50% of all the electricity in the US. It generates more than 50% in these twenty states (WV, IN, KY, WY, ND, UT, OH, MO, NM, KS, IO, NE, MI, CO, WI, GA, MN, MD, NC, and TN). It generates 90% of all the electricity in West Virginia, Indiana, Kentucky and Wyoming. That’s a lot.

    I think it’s funny that electric companies all over the US are pushing for everyone to “Go Green” and stop using paper. I wonder why? Maybe so people will use the computer more and spend more money on electricity?

    Sorry for the rant, I just think it’s something people should know.

    • charlie

      i generally agree with you. it is like “new” cars being greener than old cars. well if I don’t BUY a new car, I don’t need one. And thus one has been wastefuly created.

      Which I think is the issue here if they are producing all these books and they are being wasted, being GREEN would be not producing it in the first place.

    • Courthouse Resident

      Still – even if you don’t want to look at it as a “being greener” standpoint… you know the minute those books are dumped at your front door – it’s outdated. If most people prefer to use the web to search for a person or a business – then it’s probably best to just cut back or end the production and delivery of the books. That all still requires a tremendous amount of resources. The trees for the paper, the energy to produce the paper, the ink for the paper, the energy to print the books, the plastic to wrap the books in, the energy to ship the books… all for it to get (hopefully) dumped in the recycling bin? What a waste.

      • Interesting

        You make a great point. If the need for a phonebook is no longer needed, than it is not “green” by any means to produce it. It just bothers me when people say it’s not green to print something, even if the need or want is there.

    • el fat kid

      your bit on paper companies is completely off base…

      they don’t own all the land they log… a huge amount of it is leased from the USFS or state govts. yes, paper companies are required to replant the trees they cut on public land, whoopdeefndoo… they are hardly replacing the resource they took, but hey in 30 years it’s almost as good as new and ready to be logged again.

      The paper industry is one of the most irresponsible and dishonest niches in our economy. From the Koch Brothers at Georgia Pacific to westvaco’s blatant disregard for pollution controls in Virginia – They’re milking public resources for personal profit while destroying lands and rivers.

      • Interesting

        This is in fact not off base at all. Sorry, someone has been feeding you wrong info.

    • Rover

      I’m not sure paper deteriorates quickly in a landfill. Fairly recently a study was performed on 1950s landfills where cores were taken to examine the contents. Newspapers came out as legible. We are just buying the waste in a well-drained environment thus preserving it, not decomposing it.

    • V Dizzle

      You’ve left out the fossil fuels that are used for fuel and electricity when chopping and transporting the wood, sectioning, processing, and bleaching the paper, moving the bulk paper, printing the documents, and transporting the white/yellow pages to a warehouse and then to your door (this is overly simplified, I know). When the final product is generally NOT being used at all by the person that receives it, it’s a total net gain when looking at environmental impact. People are using the internet with or without the product, and there is no reason to compare with internet usage. (Basically, internet usage doesn’t not correlate to delivery of the white/yellow pages.)

      • Interesting

        You make a good point. It is very hard to compare the two. However, I could make the same statement about the energy used by paper companies. Just like people are using the internet for more than just looking up a phone number, paper companies are using the trees for more than just the printing of phone books. The same can be said for delivery, since the post office is used for that. They are already coming to your house, so why not deliver the books too. I guess the big difference is, a personal service is being provided when you receive a phone book. People that work in the paper companies, printing plants, and everyone in the shipping industry get to keep their jobs. And while: el fat kid thinks a point was made, el fat kid is wrong. Only 25%-30% of paper is out sourced by trees not owned by the paper industry.

        • Interesting

          Just one more point. many paper companies use the parts of a tree that cannot be used for pulp to burn for energy. Therefore, they do use less fosil fuels for energy.

  • The white pages, delivered by the phone company, are a remnant of the past. Very few people use them, instead storing hundreds of numbers on a smart phone, looking it up on social networking or simply texting a mutual friend for the number. Yellow Pages, on the other hand, is paid for by advertising, made of recycled paper, biodegradable glue and has very little environmental impact.

    Independent Yellow Pages Publishers often include the residential White Pages because they want their book to be as “thick” as the competition – size matters to Yellow Pages executives.

    I’m looking forward to the day that the Independents decide to stop following whatever the phone companies do and take the first step. Remove the residential section from the book and either include more useful community information in the form of expanded guides, lower the cost of the advertising by accepting a lower page count, or increase the font size so older readers, many of whom are still are not comfortable with the internet, can read it easily.

  • Lou

    So, why does Verizon have to lobby the state for permission to stop serving the White Pages? Is this some remnant legislation from the Bell break-up or something?

    • charlie

      it is a requirement by the state corporation commission as part of Verizons’ agreement to do business in the Commonwealth. It is an interesting ad in the POST, I recommend you read it.
      People don’t realize it, but the phone companies and cable companies also need permission from local government to put “stuff” in the public streets. That is how Arlington can require Comcast and Verizon FIOS to carry County stations that it can’t require of DirectTV.

      • Lou

        Does that mean I actually have to pick up a printed copy of the Post?

        • charlie

          lou, the irony is overwhelming.
          Verizon wants to stop doing something that doesn’t make sense but they are REQUIRED to advertise their request in the newsprint format which is also on the way out in many ways.
          these are some of the more simplistic issues that haven’t evolved with technology.

  • Greg

    It would be interesting to know if there was an opt-out and participation decreased to some percentage (say %50), would the book become more expensive to consumers because of the loss of ad revenue?

    If the cost is spread among all users, those of us who don’t read the book could actually end up paying more.

    If the cost is transferred to only those who receive the book, I would imagine it would become prohibitively expensive and they might stop using it anyway.

    It might be that just ending the thing is the best option…

  • OddNumber

    I would love to opt out and might actually pay to do it! Although I live a building with 12 apartments, a stack of about 20 is always delivered only to be left out in the rain, used as a door stop for people moving, and trampled upon until someone “takes one for the team” and carries all of them to the dumpster (I’m hoping they get recycled, but somehow doubt it).

    • Elizabeth

      The same happens at my apartment. I have no home phone service, never have in VA, and yet they still deliver a stack of books. How can I opt out of something I never was connected to?

  • Rosslyn

    A fee makes sense. My grandmother and her neighbors still rely heavily on their printed phone books (in the Commonwealth, outside Arlington County). This may change over time, but it hasn’t yet. She’d be happy to pay $2 instead of having to buy a computer and pay for internet service.

  • Novanglus

    The white pages go right into the recycling bin as soon as they land on my sidewalk.

  • Skeptical

    I figure if the people who really want it paid $2 and only that many were printed, Verizon would come out ahead. Sign me up as another person who chucks the mo’fo in the recycling without taking it in the house. The same goes for the local Arlington mini-directory that showed up at my address for years.

    As for demographics, doubtless there are still significant numbers of people who aren’t online, and they would skew toward the older decades, but with age also comes failing vision (who do you think are the customers for all those Large Print books at the library?) and I bet there’s a big chunk of the no-Net group that couldn’t get much use from the phone book either. They’re calling 411 for known people’s numbers and getting referrals from friends for businesses.

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