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San Francisco Set to Ban Unsolicited Phone Books

According to a new law that's likely to pass this week, the Yellow Pages would have to confirm you want a book before giving you one.

When's the last time you looked up a number in the phone book? For us, it was probably around 1999. But the Yellow Pages keep coming. Every year there's another stack of trash delivered to your doorstep.

Now San Francisco, the first city in the country to ban plastic bags, is about to take another step forward: Preventing the Yellow Pages from giving books to people who might not want them. Last week, San Francisco's Board of Supervisors voted 10-1 to pass legislation (PDF) that would ban unwanted delivery of the directories. Each phone book would have to be "personally delivered to an occupant or authorized representative of the residence or business or left at the residence or business following a request." A few cities have opt-out registries, but this bill is different. The Yellow Pages would have to confirm you want a book before giving you one. The legislation also includes a public outreach campaign to make sure seniors and low-income people aren't deprived of useful information.

The bill faces one more vote this week, but it's expected to pass. If it does, the savings will be considerable. According to the city, the 1.6 million business directories delivered every year would stack up to 8 1/2 times the height of Mt. Everest, and banning them would actually boost the economy by lowering advertising rates and reducing damage to municipal recycling machinery.

Let's hope laws like this catch on elsewhere. There are tons of great doorstops on Etsy.

Photo (cc) from Flickr user angusf

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