Thursday, October 16, 2008

Day 178 of our Green Year: Recycling Phone Books

Every single year, phone books are sent out to millions of people, and while this may have been important 20 years ago, it is not now. The internet gives us instant access to any phone number or listing we need, which makes the phone book obsolete.
However, the phone book is still being produced, and while it can be understood for payphones, there is no reason phone books have to go to homes since the Internet is so wide-spread these days.

As of right now, I do not know if our provider will allow us to opt-out of the program. A search of the internet today revealed that there were no options for this. Hence, there is the need to find a use for the phone book. Now, while you may think recycling a phone book is an option, it is not. The reason is that many recyclers will not accept phone books because the lightweight pages of the book are too short to be made into new paper, and mixing old phonebooks into a waste paper bin can contaminate the entire batch.

Thankfully, phone books can be recycled and when it is recycled, it is used to make new phone books, insulation materials, ceiling tiles and roofing services, along with paper towels, grocery bags and cereal boxes.

This means that recycling your phone book is important because while you cannot opt out of the program it seems, you can talk to your service provider about the recycling program they have. Most will allow you to drop off the phone book at a central location, where it will be recycled properly. This is what Layla and I will do with the old phone books here at the ranch. If 500 phone books are recycled, it saves:

  • 7,000 gallons of water
  • 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space
  • 17 to 31 trees
  • 4,100 kilowatts of electricity, enough to power an average home for six months

However, going with our motto of re-use then recycle, there are some other things that can be done with the phone books.

  • The shredded phone books can be used as great packing material.
  • The papers can be used as a fire starter.
  • You can also shred phonebook pages and use them as mulch to keep down weeds in the garden. The paper is biodegradable and will simply become part of the soil again.
Think your garbage doesn't make a big impact on the environment? Today I read a story about a whale that came onto the beach in Malaysia and died. When researchers did an autopsy on the whale, they found it had swallowed a black plastic bag, a rope and a bottle cap, which worked to clog its intestine. What a wonderful way to die....