A paperless world is a big idea. Imagine that. No more newspapers, no more magazines, no more junk mail filling your mailbox. It’s a big idea and certainly something to be appreciated. This concept – and the downfall of the print industry – is seen in small Internet movements around the world. One Internet movement, for instance, is YellowPagesGoesGreen.org. I love this site. It’s also part of a healthy “green” initiative, if that gets your brain cooking. But, a paperless world certainly starts with eliminating the production of the White and Yellow Pages.
Here’s my history with the White and Yellow Page – before I get into why a magazine “publisher” doesn’t support mass print production:
I used the Yellow Pages to find my first job as an editor. I used this resource to look up publishing companies in the Denver area and I started calling them one by one. Eventually, somebody answered the phone and liked what they heard on the other end. I went in for an interview, got the job. I attributed my success, at the time, to the Yellow Pages.
In fact, I continued to use the Yellow Pages for job searches. It was my father-in-law who said, “Why don’t you use the Internet, fool?” This was coming from a guy who doesn’t have an e-mail address. I was dumbfounded. Yes, the Internet…it’s a very cool thing. This was circa 2005. Hard to believe? Well, what I experienced is all too human: I relied on a resource that, for me, was proven and useful. But, that slowly fell to the wayside; I no longer needed the Yellow Pages. Why is that? Because of the handy dandy Internet.
I also remember the White Pages, before the Internet, was essential to everyday communication. Who can forget this great scene from the movie, “The Jerk”…
Navin: The new phone book’s here! The new phone book’s here!
Harry: Well I wish I could get so excited about nothing.
Navin: Nothing? Are you kidding?! Page 73, Johnson, Navin, R.! I’m somebody now! Millions of people look at this book every day! This is the kind of spontaneous publicity, you’re name in print, that makes people. I’m in print! Things are going to start happening to me now.
I’ve always paid $2 a month to be unlisted in the phonebook. If you’ve seen the movie, The Jerk, you’ll understand why. I like my privacy. But, I certainly understand Navin’s exuberance. As a kid, I loved looking in the new phone book for my dad’s name. When I found it, I immediately noticed that the world is big and the last name “Alford” was everywhere. It WAS great publicity for my dad, however. He certainly IS somebody.
So, here’s the conundrum I find myself in: Promoting the downfall of a print industry legend. The history behind the Yellow/White Page is vast; they’ve been in trouble for a while. Increase in print costs, a steady decrease in advertising dollars, and a growing disrespect for large floppy books that take up room in cabinets and closets – all are part of the problem. As everybody knows, they work great as door stops, high chairs for kids, fire starter, and you can find some wonderful expired coupons in the inside front and back covers.
Unfortunately, we must bid them a sorrowful goodbye. I apologize to the many people the Yellow/White Pages employ, but the Internet is a far more powerful and ubiquitous resource now. There is no reason I should receive these annoying printed monstrosities on my doorstep if I don’t want them. Right? Well, that’s where YellowPagesGoesGreen.org comes in.
It’s rather simple. It works like the “Do Not Call Registry.” If you don’t want the Yellow/White Pages, go to YellowPagesGoesGreen.org and sign up. Enter your name, address, e-mail address and choose what you don’t want to receive: White, Yellow or both. My preference is both.
Here are some fun facts, regarding Yellow/White Pages:
More than 500 million of these directories are printed every year. That is nearly two books for every person in the country! These directories produce a staggering amount of waste, not only in terms of misused natural resources but also in filling of valuable landfill space.
To produce 500 million books:
*19 million trees need to be harvested
*1.6 billion pounds of paper are wasted
*7.2 million barrels of oil are misspent in their processing (not including the wasted gas used for their delivery to your doorstep)
*268,000 cubic yards of landfill are taken up
*3.2 billion kilowatt hours of electricity are squandered
As the publisher of Snowshoe Magazine, I chose to print one issue during the 05/06 season. I stopped there. It wasn’t because I wanted to go the “green” route…it was the expense. It’s too expensive. The Web site is a far more powerful resource than a printed document. The overhead to keep the Snowshoemag site up and running is a nominal hosting fee of $50. No big deal. Printing a magazine is a project that takes far too much time, especially for a guy that works a full time job and has a family. I won’t bore you with the specifics, but it’s insane to print a magazine at the small business level. I certainly tried and I love to tell people I did it. (Tooting my horn, sorry.)
So, visit http://www.YellowPagesGoesGreen.org and support their cause. I think Al Gore would be proud.
Oh yeah, one more thing. If you really want to have fun with large corporations invading your life with unwanted paper, try this:
If you receive credit card applications in the mail, start using the included return envelope to send them your junk mail. It’s really simple. Open the junk mail, take out the return envelope, fill it with junk (feel free to be creative), and place it in the mail. Not only are you supporting our nation’s postal workers but you’re also sending the credit card companies junk mail – ON THEIR DIME. Good times.
I guess this my official blog. I’ll try updating this often with fun tidbits. I’m already looking forward to another snowshoe season. Have an enjoyable summer, what’s left of it. Bring on the snow!