Friday, March 1, 2013

Cracking Down on Phone Book Deliveries

The days of phone books dropped off along the side of the road in Shelton are coming to an end. The books should now turn up on residents' doorsteps. And if residents don't want a phone book, they can 'opt out' of delivery.

The phone directories have become a problem in recent years as growing numbers of unwanted phone books have been left unclaimed along city streets for weeks or months, creating an eyesore along city streets.  Many people no longer use the book, and instead rely on their computers and cell phones to look up information. Volunteers who pick up litter along their street especially loath picking up the water-soaked books because they are so heavy.

Phone book on the ground  weeks after delivery
Any resident who finds their new phone book out by the road is being asked to report the improper delivery to the Shelton Anti-Litter Committee by emailing or by calling (203) 924-1555 x 315.  Please be sure to include the delivery date and street promptly so it may be verified.  The Committee is asking for photos if possible showing the phone book and nearby identifying features (like a mailbox number).  This applies to delivery of both the Yellow Pages, White Pages, and the Yellow Book, which are delivered by the same distributor.

In addition to the litter issue, the mass distribution of phone books to people who don't want them is considered wasteful by many.  Polls now show that the majority of Americans do not want and will not use the phone books they receive. Yet according to the Daily Green, the manufacture of phone books in the U.S. each year consume 19 million trees, 7.2 million barrels of oil (not including gasoline for deliveries); 3.2 billion kilowatt hours of electricity, and generate 268,000 cubic yards of solid waste, not including the books themselves.

In response to this growing national problem, an "Opt Out" program was established by the Local Search Association that allows residents to register their name and address to stop future deliveries of the Yellow & White Pages and/or the Yellow Book.  Register online at  The Anti-Litter Committee is encouraging residents to opt out, and to report any problems with the process to the committee, including trouble registering with the website or receipt of phone books after opting out.

The issue came to a head on March 8, 2012, when the Shelton Board of Aldermen passed a resolution clarifying that dropping off unwanted phone books or any other such materials in the City right-of-way or on private property without the property owner's permission was a violation of Shelton's litter ordinance.  City leaders were subsequently contacted and a meeting arranged. In a follow-up email to City leaders and the Anti-Litter Committee, John Anglace, Board of Alderman President, described the meeting as follows:
After passing our Resolution, the Mayor and I were contacted and asked to meet with representatives of the Yellow Pages (YP).  We met with them.  They explained that they had already sold advertising for this year's YP directory distribution in the Shelton area and that their ability to do business in Shelton had been dealt a severe blow because of our Resolution.

We listened and explained to them the serious litter problem they had caused and what difficulties our anti-litter volunteers had picking up those wet directories.  We told them we were not trying to hurt their doing business in Shelton nor were we trying to keep Shelton citizens from receiving the YP book but we needed assurances and a plan acceptable to us and our Anti-Litter Committee that would provide a guaranteed no litter distribution.  
YP responded with a plan to offer advertising through various media and on-line sources whereby Shelton citizens not wanting to receive the YP book could "opt out" of the distribution in advance and that their distribution vendor would make a second run a week later where they would pick up any directories not taken in by our citizens.   The directories will be dropped at the door this year as opposed to being dropped in the City Right of Way in the past."

Books violating the delivery guidelines, like these phone books
 left on top of mail boxes, should be reported to the Anti-Litter Committee as soon as possible. 
Confusing matters is the fact that there are two competing phone books, the Yellow Pages, which comes with the White Pages,  and the Yellow Book.  Although these books are created by two different companies and delivered at different times, they share the use of the same local distributor, who is responsible for the actual deliveries.  

Books along Buddington Road March 6, 2013

Report problems with deliveries to the Conservation Agent, Teresa Gallagher, at or by phone at 203 924-1555 x315.  Pictures improper deliveries with identifying features in the background are especially helpful. 

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