Campaign presses Yellow Pages to quit sending books
Discarded Yellow Page directories. (Courtesy Kyle MacDonald)
Published Saturday, November 20, 2010 7:26PM EST
It was a towering stack of the Yellow Pages phone book that sparked a Montreal resident to lobby for an opt-in option to the 102-year-old phone directory.
Aimee Davison said she arrived home one day in late September to find a huge pile of Yellow Pages blocking her path, which she had to move aside in order to get through her front door.
"When I got inside, I made a humourous tweet saying: ‘Stop showing up at my house you tree killer,'" Davison, a 32-year-old new media producer, model and actress, told CTV.ca in an interview.
A few tweets later, a bunch of Davison's friends responded and began to spawn the idea of creating a guerilla campaign in October called, Yellow Page Mountain. She collaborated with Kyle MacDonald, famous for his red paper clip story a few years ago where he ended up bartering his way up to a house in Kipling, Sask.
Their cheeky video on YouTube shows the pair popping in and out of Montreal's residential and commercial buildings to collect over 500 unused Yellow Pages in a ten-hour time frame, chucking them into the back of their rented U-Haul van before dropping their collection off at the company's headquarters in Montreal. The video has sparked thousands of hits and 275 members have joined their cause online.
At one point in the video, MacDonald spots a car that used a bunch of Yellow Pages as building blocks to prevent the car from rolling.
"It's such a waste of resources," said Davison.
In a report by The Seattle Times, two publishers of the Yellow Pages and an industry association are currently suing the city to overturn an ordinance that would allow residents to decide if they want to receive the directories. Seattle taxpayers are currently shelling out $350,000 every year for recycling costs.
Since 1995, Yellow Pages have been making a voluntary contribution for recycling costs until 2005, when Bill 102 made it a legal obligation to cover 50 per cent of the net costs, according to Fiona Story, Yellow Pages Group communications manager in Montreal.
Right now, Canadians can opt out of the Yellow Pages by filling out a form online or by telephone, but the company requires a two-year renewal. About 15,000 individuals are currently signed up for their opt-out list, said Story. The list was implemented in 2009.
Davison, who did not opt out before her campaign, is advocating for an opt-in option so Canadians can decide for themselves whether they want the directory or not.
"Things have changed, even Foursquare calls into [question] the need of the Yellow Pages," said Davison of the mobile application and social city guide.
"[The Yellow Pages] takes up space and it's wasteful," she adds. "With the Internet, Twitter and mobile, there's no need for them."
According to an Ipsos Reid poll last year, eight in 10 Canadians have Internet connection at home, though individuals over 55 were not as connected as the younger demographic.
Davison admits the elderly and people living in rural areas have complained against her campaign, saying they use the Yellow Pages due to seldom use of the Internet.
According to Story, one in two Canadians use the paperback directory.
Even Davison's mother, Simone, 65, of Niagara Falls, still uses the Yellow Pages to help her find numbers for restaurants.
"I've been using it for 45 years. But I also use the Internet, but it's just old habits," said Simone.
"The next generation may have a point, but I would hate to do away with things like the newspaper and I still like to read paper books but I can see it coming to a digital format to be more cost effective," she said, adding that she supports her daughter's opinion and would be able to manage if the hardcover directory were to vanish one day.
"It would be more challenging, but so long as everything I need is on the Internet, I think I would be ok," she said.
To opt-out of the Yellow Pages, visit: http://delivery.ypg.com/delivery/form.php