Back in 2007 (http://www.yptalk.com/archive.cfm?ID=303&CatID=14) I wrote about how the perception that print yellow pages are the root cause of congested landfills and increased government trash waste doesn’t match the reality of what the typical household receives, and then needs to discard (99% of which is not recycled) in the way of junk mail. To prove my point I compare one year of directories received to just three months of junk mail that arrived. Over the course of a year, the pile of junk mail will far exceed the pile of print yellow pages.
I am happy to report that some recent tests have yielded similar findings. Most recently, I received a note from Jeremy Snyder, the General Sales Manager at the Tarheel Pages. I have cut down some of his analysis to get to the results of the similar test he did:
January 1, 2011 I started collecting every piece of unsolicited junk snail mail that came into my mailbox at my aforementioned house. I kept a box in the corner of the kitchen and instructed my wife to throw any piece of advertising material into the box. Any piece of mail that was not a bill, something she had a subscription for, or personal mail was to be thrown in that “junk mail” box. We have it in our emails to weed out junk in our cyber life, I decided to make one for our physical life. This is a true to life comparison, and anyone who wants to come and check the actual data is more than welcome, as it still sits in a big box (my wife WOULD NOT let me keep it lying on the floor!) I can’t say I was surprised by the outcome (which I concluded on December 31, 2011), but I was astounded when you compare it to a Phone Book. I did a side by side comparison to the Phone Books delivered to the RTP Area of North Carolina including Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill’s Phone book. It’s amazing, and like Judge Korman mentioned, a form of discrimination, to realize that this unsolicited junk mail comes every single day into our mail boxes or post office boxes. Whether it’s one or two or three pieces a day, you can see just how it adds up over 365 days!! Yet a phone directory that is delivered ONCE every year garners all the negative news about usage (or lack thereof) and wastefulness.
Philadelphia Flyers goalie, Ilya Bryzgalov recently stated, “The solar system is sooo humongous big, right?! But if you see our solar system and our galaxy on the side, it was so small.” It’s all about perspective! I try to get my sales reps to encourage customers to look at the big picture in everything we do. What we need to ask ourselves, or better yet, what all the naysayers need to ask themselves is, “Do we really think that taking away phone books and destroying thousands of jobs in its wake is, right now, something that is best for what’s happening in our Country (or World)???”
But I’ve come to find out that Jeremy’s fine effort hasn’t been the only test. Thanks to Bob Tacey, Jr. the Founder/President of Modern Creative Seminars (Tacy Speaks) who also reminded me about a similar finding from Ron Mintle at Yellow Magic. Ron ran a similar test just a couple of years ago and posted the actual weights of the two different media it on their company blog (http://www.yellowmagicblog.blogspot.com/). Here it is:
What I was interested in finding out was what would weigh more, the four Yellow Pages Directories I’ve got in my home, or all the junkmail I collect over the period of 12 months?
I didn’t have to wait very long to find out. Just four months after I’d started with my little experiment, I’ve got some interesting numbers for you. Now of course these may not be valid for everyone, but I couldn’t find anyone else that was crazy enough to have kept their junk mail for four months, which already tells you something…
So, here are the numbers. The junk mail weighed in at 12 pounds & all four of my Yellow Pages Directories together amounted to 9.4 pounds!
It means I collected 3 pounds of junk mail per month. If you do the math & extrapolate, that amounts to 36 pounds of junk mail per year! I’m pretty confident that after a year, those Yellow Pages Directories would still be 9.4 pounds & unlike the junk mail, each of those Yellow Pages are still useful.
Where’s my Yellow Pages? Next to my phone 🙂
So there you have it – three different tests in three different parts of the country and the results are identical.
Note to municipal governments: Print yellow pages directories are not your biggest problem in your waste streams. You can save a heck of a lot more if you would just focus on the main culprits driving up your costs – cardboard, newspapers, and JUNK MAIL.
Let me close with some final words from Jeremy Snyder‘s note, words the industry should embrace:
As many of you in and out of the industry know, we are being inundated with negative perceptions. These perceptions (and they ARE perceptions) of our extinction have increasingly grown over the last few years. It makes our jobs harder and harder to convince the small business owner (and mainstream media) that for over 150 years Yellow Pages helped literally millions of small businesses around the world reach the consumer at a point when they are ready to BUY! In 2008 the Wall Street Journal published an article about the “Extinction of Yellow Pages”. It was full of misstatements of facts, but yet no one ever responded when the Yellow Page Associations tried to contact and defend ourselves. Now, 3 years later, the blogosphere and online marketing companies (who have a vested interest in YP death) create this “virus” (Irony?). A virus of the mind which infects the business owners, the general consumer, and even local governments. Starting in the urban areas that are more technologically savvy and slowly but surely making its way to Small Business America and the everyday consumers.
Folks, isn’t it time to start fighting back on all these misconceptions, lies, and complete mistruths??