Monday, February 20, 2012

Plan in place to cut down on unwanted phone books

Photo credit: Jamiesrabbits
 The telephone is one of the most important inventions in history. When telephones emerged in the late 1880’s, they connected people, business, and communities in ways never seen before. But telephones alone would not have changed the world like they did without an important companion – the phone directory. Having a phone was only half of the equation. People needed directories to connect with the right people on the other end.
For over a century, new white and yellow pages directories would show up on every doorstep about once a year. They were so vital to connecting communities that many states, including Washington, adopted laws and rules requiring phone companies to publish and distribute the white pages on a regular basis.
However two relatively recent inventions – the smartphone and the internet – have rendered traditional phone directories nearly obsolete. Between 2005 and 2008, the number of households depending on the white pages for information decreased from 25% to 11%. 
Reps. Reuven Carlyle, Marko Liias, and Joe Fitzgibbon are leading efforts to cut down the on the number of unwanted phone books in Washington state. They recently met with yellow pages industry representatives to find a solution that benefits publishers, consumers, and the environment.
As a result of those conversations, the four largest yellow pages providers will now include opt-out information on the cover of every phone directory they publish in Washington. Consumers can go to to opt out of receiving the directory. You can read more about this agreement here.

With an easy-to-use solution in place for the Yellow Pages, the lawmakers are now turning their attention to the White Pages. With the support of businesses, local governments, and environmental interests, the group is urging the state Utilities and Transportation Commission to modernize the rule that requires phone companies to distribute physical directories to Washington residents.
Over five million trees are cut down each year to print white pages directories. If Carlyle, Fitzgibbon, and Liias are successful with their petition, unwanted phone directories will be a thing of the past in Washington state.

To read this story in Spanish, click here.