Sick of the Yellow Pages? Opt out 

In a tech-savvy and environmentally aware region like the Bay Area, which is home to online directories such as Yelp and Google Local, the arrival of a new Yellow Pages book can seem like a blast from the past.

So as of today, residents who prefer to let their cursor do the walking can visit a new, nationwide web site — — which will let them choose which local business directories they do or do not wish to receive.

The new web site from the national Yellow Pages Association is designed to let residents click their way off the mailing list of about 148 publishers of Yellow and White page directories.

“It’s what we should be doing,” said Association Public Policy Director Amy Perlik Healy, who traveled to San Francisco from New Jersey to unveil the new policy. “It costs us money to send these out. We don’t want to send them to people who don’t want them.”

The maneuver may help the members of Healy’s trade association dodge legislative bullets such as the unsuccessful legislation introduced one year ago today by State Sen. Leland Yee. The bill, SB 920, would have required directory publishers to provide a 1-800 number allowing residents a chance to opt out of directory delivery.

Janan New of the San Francisco Apartment Association said many people won’t miss the directories.

“Almost everyone has access to Internet now,” said New, whose association represents about 2,800 rental property owners.

Perhaps no one views phone books as a greater nuisance than the folks who have to dispose of them. Even though phone books are 100 percent recyclable, they are also so heavy that The City’s recycling management company, Recology, had to build extra conveyer belts just to carry them.

“Usually you mechanically separate them,” said Recology spokesman Robert Reed. “Paper goes uphill and bottles go down. But the books go the wrong way.”

Thus, phone directories are now manually separated and placed on special conveyers.

Reed estimated that his company recycles more than 1 million of them a year, including many that have clearly never been opened.

According to the San Francisco Department of the Environment, the cost of disposing of these door stoppers is up to $750,000 a year.

And yet, for all of the griping by  people who wish they could opt out of receiving a phone book, thousands of small businesses in San Francisco continue to depend on their Yellow Pages advertising, Healy said.

“It’s not sexy,” she said. “But it works for them.”

Stopping the flow
Tired of Yellow Pages, direct mail or credit card offers? Here’s how to do something about it.

- To opt out of directory delivery, visit
- To opt out of direct mail or e-mail delivery, visit
- To opt out of credit card solicitation, visit

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Kamala Kelkar

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