The Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) anti-phonebook mongers were thumping their chests last week that “…more than 67,000 households and businesses signed up to stop phone books in 2011, and you’ve already stopped nearly 300 tons of paper from being used…” (Source)
So let’s do the math. The supposed indisputable source of knowledge on the always-correct Internet – Wikipedia, says that there were 258,499 households in the city of Seattle as of the 2000 census. Note: this is only the city area, and doesn’t include the surrounding areas that may also receive a print phonebook called “Seattle”. But let’s just use the Wikipedia number so industry critics can’t claim we stacked the results. Some quick calculations say that’s assuming a 1-to-1 relationship of books to SPU “households”, that only comes to 26% of households that opted out. However, that really is a slanted, incorrect calculation as we know many homes may receive more than one book, and businesses are not included in that total household count. The interesting side bar on this is that industry research indicates that 75% of adults use the print books at least once a year. The SPU numbers, if believable, support that industry research then. By a 3 to 1 margin, people still like and use the phonebooks. And this is the media that has been replaced, no one uses, etc., etc. etc., etc.
But wait, we’re not done yet. You need to further evaluate the “success” of those 300 tons supposedly saved by what it took to achieve it. As we noted in an August post, during July yellow post cards (ironic choice of color for the card don’t you think) were sent to 280,000 residence and business addresses by the SPU so that Seattleites who “….don’t have Internet access can select their phone book delivery preferences by mail.” That little direct mail “spam” effort (where are you now Eddie Kohler) used over 4 TONS OF PAPER . How many of those 280K post cards, or 4 TONS OF PAPER do you think will be recycled?? Wonder why the SPU isn’t reporting on that???
Not only that, now the phonebook police are out for more blood (as in revenue for the city):
Did you receive a yellow pages phone book after opting out? If so, you can file a complaint online through your City of Seattle stop phone books account. If you submitted your opt-out request by phone or mail, call our automated phone line at (206) 504-3066 to submit a complaint. Yellow pages publishers will be held accountable, and even fined, if they fail to honor timely opt-out requests from Seattle residents and businesses.
Wow. Such a “success”. That’s’ something to be really proud of Seattle. Instead, SPU and the elected leadership of the city should be embarrassed.
After all this noise and unfair targeting of the Yellow Pages industry, you’ve made virtually no dent in the one thing that accounts for less than one percent of your overall municipal waste stream. Perhaps now you can focus on the other 99% that is the real problem.