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Phone Books Destroy Neighborhoods

I snapped this picture on September 1st while biking through Johnny Northside’s neighborhood just North of Fairview Park.

Old Phone Books

Notice the phone book on the doorsteps. Quite a few houses in that area had phone books sitting on their doorsteps this past Labor Day.

This made me wonder when the phone books were delivered to that neighborhood. Johnny has pictures on his site with phone books from August 17th and April 24th of this year so it seems quite possible that the phone book in the above photo has been sitting on that doorstep for at least 2 weeks, if not 4 months.

Either way, the rotten phone books do nothing to help the neighborhood. They’re a clear sign of abandoned homes, making it easy for copper thieves, drug dealers, and prostitutes to find new homes to rob or use for business purposes.

6 thoughts on “Phone Books Destroy Neighborhoods”

  1. Thank you, Ed, for bringing attention to this issue. After my conversation with Mayor Rybak in the Eco-Village, I had great hope something would be done about the unwanted piles of phone books, something at the Minneapolis City Government level.

    But I’m still waiting. Thank you giving this vexing neighborhood issue more exposure.

    As for companies like Dex: SHAME ON YOU for cutting down forests and charging your deluded advertising customers big bucks and all for what?

    To create yellow, rotting, mostly-ignored heaps of wood pulp on the doorsteps of vacant, boarded up houses.

  2. Consumers can “opt out” of receiving telephone books at They will contact the publishers and inform them to stop delivering books. This is a free service for consumers. is working with state and local governments on ordinances concerning the delivery of unsolicited telephone books. is not against the telephone books but against the delivery of 4 to 5 pounds of paper on people’s door step 5 to 6 times per year and being told it is our responsibility to recycle something we did not ask for. If we need a book we will call. Otherwise I “opt out” from receiving it.

  3. I happen to be one of the owners of MyJunkTree and as a new company I search the web to see if we are getting any visibility out there and I post on relevant blogs.

    We launched the company because we were tired of all the junk mail we were receiving and we personally did not want to bounce all over the web to contact all the different companies to stop it all. First and foremost we wanted to let people choose what they wanted to let come to their home knowing that some people really do like some of the coupons and catalogs. So our clients choose what they want stopped.

    We also had to provide a service that is different than the other services out there, so here is what we offer:

    1. We have a database of over 1300 catalogs that you can choose to stop.
    2. We have over a 2000 charities/Non-Profits that you can stop solicitations from.
    3. Stop the delivery of the national phone directories.
    4. Stop the delivery of the weekly coupons.
    5. Stop the general credit card offers as well as the ones from your own major bank.
    6. Stop the miscellaneous junk mail from the data brokers.
    7. You can register on the National Do Not Call Registry from the website.
    8. You can order your no strings attached free annual credit report right from the website.
    9. We plant trees with every new membership.

    And, yes we are a paid service and yes you can do everything that we do for free, if you want to do all the research and spend the time contacting the companies yourself it can easily be done. We have just done all of the legwork for our clients and feel there is value in the service we provide.

  4. Thank you for bringing attention to the issues of abandoned phone books. While I agree that phone books use a lot of paper and resources (printing, distributing, etc.), and can be unsightly in neighborhoods, I wanted to offer an alternate opinion.

    For people like myself, who don’t have access to the internet at home, a phone book is a necessary and important resource. Every person should have the right to government phone numbers, school phones, and other community resources for purposes of consumer rights, activist rights, education, and engagement. Not to mention a yellow pages when you need a repair person. Since one listing is free for every business, I also see the phone book as a way for small businesses to make sure customers know how to contact them.

    The current method of ensuring this right of all city residents is to distribute phone books to every household. As someone who teaches English and computer skills to both immigrants and native-born adults, I am certain that most low-income citizens would not have the time or knowledge to pick up phone books at Libraries or other distribution centers–as a former Library employee, I also realize that there wouldn’t be space for this purpose.

    I prefer an opt-out system to an opt-in (an opt-in would primarily benefit the well-educated and those who are already have the time and motivation to be highly engaged in their communities).

    If you can ignore the ads…but then, I don’t see people donating money to support the printing of phone books–without ads, the phone books no longer exist. And low-income folks and people like me lose their access to phone numbers. Besides, what else is your neice going to sit on when she comes to dinner at your house? Unless, of course, you have a 3-yr-old sized chair at your table.

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