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How To Avoid Phone Book Deliveries (And Their Carbon Footprint)

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality just released some advice for opting out of phone book deliveries.

Yes, you can opt out of receiving the increasingly unnecessary paper (see details below) – and shave 18 pounds from your carbon diet, according to DEQ. In Oregon, you can also recycle the books by putting them in your curbside bin, saving 5.9 pounds of carbon (though nationwide, only 20 percent of the books are recycled).

I wrote about ending the 132-year-old phone book tradition last year, and I was surprised to learn that:

The post stemmed from a poll that found 87 percent of Americans would rather have an opt-in policy for phone book deliveries (like San Francisco has).

Oregon Field Guide producer Ed Jahn sent me the link, and told me he actually chased down the delivery guy to return his phone book: “I swear he was running away from me,” Jahn said. “Like he didn’t want to take it back.”

One of my favorite responses to the post came from reader cnn:

“I just received a phone book in the mail yesterday and it ruined my day. I’m in Oregon and the phone book was created by a company called Supermedia. They have an opt-out, feature on their website — but I’m suspicisous that all it will do will create more junk mail. In the meantime, I mailing my worthless phone book back to Supermedia’s CEO, Peter J. McDonald. He can deal with it.”

Here are the DEQ’s tips for opting out of phone book deliveries:

Visit to opt out of phone books for all publishers.

Contact phone book publishers to opt out or reduce your phone book order. For DEX/Qwest, go to and select “Directory Options” at the bottom. Enter your Zip Code and click through screens until you see “Personalize Your Directory Order.” Or you can call 800-422-8793 and press 2 to speak with a representative.

For Yellow Book, call 800-929-3556 and press 3 to speak with a representative. For other phone books, check on the front cover or inside page for a customer service number to “order directories.”

Curbside recycling in Oregon accepts phone books. Recycling a three-pound phone book reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 5.9 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent. Preventing (not printing) that same phone book reduces greenhouse gas emissions by more than three times that amount − 18.1 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent.”

Find more environmental stories on Cassandra Profita’s Ecotrope blog.