The Yellow Pages Association’s Feel-Good Environmental Video

Here’s an interesting video from the Yellow Pages Association where they put the best spin they can on the environmental damage they cause:


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Rather than taking on the real issues here, they’ve come up with at least a dozen talking points:

1. “Nearly 90% of adults use it” so why are they sending three copies to 100% of adults? That’s an extraordinarily huge amount of waste.

2. “It’s a fast and easy way to find out information about local businesses.” True, in a world that doesn’t have better alternatives. Why rely on a list of businesses and ads when you can use comparison sites, the businesses websites, and other sources of information before picking up the phone? In 2009, people want to learn more about a business than the yellow pages provides before engaging a business in a conversation. Consumers are at an information disadvantage when they call a business. They’re working on solving that by doing more research before calling (they still end up calling, but they have to turn to sources other than the yellow pages to find more information). The Yellow Pages are a good place to influence a decision among those who still use the yellow pages.

3. “Return on investment.” The industry’s gross revenues are declining. In a tight economy, people make cuts from things that they can’t justify while investing the same or more in the things that prove to work.

4. “Not all directories contain the same information.” which makes them all less valuable compared to places that aggregate all information like the web. Rather than determining which directory best suits their needs, they may determine that they all come up short.

5. “1/3 of 1% of the solid waste stream” is a LOT of waste. A 1993 report (PDF) from the EPA estimated that there is 195.7 million tons of municipal solid waste generated every year. Surely, that’s increased since then. But even using that dated figure, that puts 1/3rd of 1% at 587,100,000 tons per year. Comparing against newspapers is rather unfair considering that people subscribe (opt-in to something they find valuable) to newspapers while people are forced to receive yellow pages.

6. “by recycling, reducing, and reusing materials.” goes to show that the Yellow Pages industry didn’t pay enough attention when this concept was explained in grade school. You gain the most environmental benefits through reducing the production of stuff that doesn’t need to be created in the first place. Then reuse as much as you can. Then recycle things when they’re no longer reusable.

7. “voluntary environmental guidelines.” Voluntarily ignored?

8. “opt-out” They give consumers the ability to opt-out, but then they ignore those opt-out lists the next time they deliver.

9. “local community recycling efforts” the yellow pages industry does some PR in this area but has generated pathetic recycling results.

10. “40% recycled content” so 60% is not.

11. “Residual wood chips” Residual wood chips could be used for a lot of things other than creating unwanted yellow pages.

12. “we encourage our members to be environmentally responsible” Good for you. But are they? According to YP industry consultant, Ken Clark, people won’t make environmentally friendly choices unless they’re financially beneficial. Does this apply to the industry?

I heard a lot of lip service from Neg Norton of the Yellow Pages Association and Scott W. Klein from Idearc Media.

Guys, if you were really serious about protecting the environment, here’s what you’d do:

1. Mandate opt-out lists by members.

2. Work to create a universal opt-out list for those who’d like to opt-out of all directories. Similar to a do not call list.

3. REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE in that order.

4. Find greener ways to deliver your books, such as drop-off locations at local businesses rather than door to door delivery.

Until you do any of those, I don’t think you’re trying hard enough.

6 thoughts on “The Yellow Pages Association’s Feel-Good Environmental Video”

  1. I’ve expressly opted out of every directory possible and, invariably, I still get several competing versions of Yellow Pages a year. This is not surprising given that they pay the people to deliver their full load of books and it’s a lot easier (and they finish quicker) if they ignore the opt out list and drop them at every door. I’ve seen Yellow Pages dropped at boarded up houses.

    As to their “90% use it” claim, I’m sure that an industry funded poll that asks questions like “If you were locked in a room with only a telephone and a set of Yellow Pages opened to the locksmith page, would you use the Yellow Pages?” Even so, they only got 90%

  2. It should be ‘opt-in’…if 90% of adults use it, then treat us like adults and let us chose if and which YP I want in my house.

    Which brings me to my challenge of their justifications–
    1) “Nearly 90% of adults use it” — You must be counting the time it was used to prop up the loose back of that guy’s laptop at the coffeehouse, or the time we used one to put under a bike tire we were pumping up in the hotel room. Other than that, I haven’t used a YP in about 8 years…and I’m not in the leading edge 10% of ANYTHING, so that statistic has to be some legacy bogus b.s. left over from the 80’s.

    2) “It’s a fast and easy way to find out information about local businesses.” — They have to be kidding (or YP has added alot of content I’ve never seen), because all it has is a listing of categories of business names address and phone numbers. What neighborhood is it in, how do I drive there, you are listed as a guppie manufacturer–does that extend to algae-eaters…not listed in the YPs I ever saw. In fact, my memories of using it recall having to hop from category to category to try to figure out who I should call to find out who then I should call. Call call call until finally getting even close to figuring out what business to consider, and then I have to drive there most of the time anyways. Yeah, fast my… buttocks.

    3) “Return on investment.” — For who? It costs me time, energy, and hassle to pick up that bag of pulp, carry it to the recycle bin, unbag it and toss the bag in the plastic bag pile and thump the YP pulp into the paper bag; then lug that bin out with that 10 lb lump next week Friday if I remember. Time is money, at a billing rate of $50/hour and 10 minute task increments, that would be 2 chargeable increments–$16.67…and an over-weight item fee of $5 is a cost of $21.67…and a value of zero, so I’m running a negative ROI of $21.67 three times per year (given the redundancy of YP services) to a net annual value of $65.01. Since my average weekly grocery bill is $32…YP directly costs me two weeks of groceries, taking food off my table, each year. Suck on that ROI, YP spinners.

    Opt-in people, YP is dated services for which there are abundant and more respectful paper directory and online services available. Stop letting YP take food out of your families mouths.

    This posting is for Shaun and Peter, who think we are all evangelists…can I hear a Hallelujah!!! 😉

  3. And perhaps a more complete understanding of the nature of ROI would help. It’s about the advertisers, dittoheads.

  4. No kidding Celeste, it is all about the ROI for advertisers…gosh, how could I have possibly missed that angle!

    Or, maybe I realized it, but didn’t care…just like them, I was reflecting their blatant disregard for us, their once potential customers.

    Given those choices, which would you logically conclude was my point?

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