Sunday, October 17, 2010

Banning phone book litter in Seattle? Not so fast...

Last week the city of Seattle made an important step last week - it voted "on a yellow pages "opt-out" ordinance that would get rid of those phone books." It makes Seattle the first city in the country to set up an opt-out registry if you don't want to receive yellow pages.

We have discussed here before how wasteful are the Yellow/White Pages' practices ('The Yellow Pages are going green, but how about eliminating the wasteful printing in the first place?') and also compared the carbon footprint of a search on Google and a Yellow Pages directory. So any step in the right direction is a reason to be more optimistic.

Nevertheless, I'm not sure if the headline given by our friends at Treehugger to this story (Phone Book Litter Banned in Seattle, Nation's First Opt-Out City) is not a bit too optimistic. Applying Opt-out system is an important step, but it's very far from banning phone book litter. First, you can already opt out system for Yellow Pages (well, right now they're upgrading it so you can't really use it) and second, it's going to be real ban only when it will change to an opt-in system.

I'm afraid that even the most user-friendly opt-out system won't get enough people to move themselves out of the list, even in a progressive city like Seattle. If the city really wants "to allow residents to say no to the books" it should give them the freedom to choose if they want to receive these books in the first place. It's reasonable, better to the environment and will save money to the city (according to the announcement "City Councilor Mike O'Brien says unwanted yellow pages cost the Seattle $350,000 a year in recycling costs").

So I hope that the city of Seattle won't stop in launching an opt-out system and will end the current wasteful practice by creating an opt-in system to get things done. Then, we'll be able to talk about banning phone books litter in Seattle.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Promoting sustainable reading!