GOT AN ENVIRONMENTAL QUESTION? Send it to: EarthTalk, c/o E/The Environmental Magazine, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881; submit it at: www.emagazine.com/earthtalk/thisweek/, or e-mail: [email protected] Read past columns at: www.emagazine.com/earthtalk/archives.php From the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine Dear EarthTalk: I came home today to yet another set of phonebooks at my front door. I feel they are a great waste of paper, especially in this electronic age. How can I stop getting these books? Better yet: How can we get the phone companies to stop making them? — Bill Jones, via e-mail Many of us have little or no use for phonebooks anymore. While such directories are helpful for that occasional look-up of a service provider or pizza place, consumers and businesses increasingly rely on the Internet to find goods and services. Directory publishers usually do make their listings available online nowadays, too, but the books are still money-makers for them as prints ads fetch top dollar even though their effectiveness is waning and much harder to track. According to the nonprofit YellowPagesGoesGreen.org, more than 500 million phone directories—nearly two books for every American—are printed and distributed every year in the U.S., taking with them some 19 million trees. Upwards of 1.6 billion pounds of paper are generated to produce the books from these felled trees, while 7.2 million barrels of oil are churned through in creating them (not including the gasoline used for local deliveries). Producing the directories also uses up 3.2 billion kilowatt hours of electricity and generates 268,000 cubic yards of solid waste that ends up in landfills (not including the books themselves, many of which eventually end up in landfills in areas where recycling is not available or convenient). Unfortunately, there is no centralized way for consumers to opt-out of receiving the big books like the National Do Not Call Registry for telemarketing. Most individual yellow and white page publishers have “no deliver” lists they can add you to, but they will not be held accountable if the books show up anyway. The YellowPagesGoesGreen.org website will find your local/regional directory pages publishers and ask them not to deliver on your behalf. The site warns, though, that there are no guarantees with this either. For their part, directory publishers insist they have made great strides in recent years to operate in an environmentally responsible manner. The Yellow Pages Association (YPA) and the Association of Directory Publishers (ADP) have collaborated on formal guidelines calling for source reduction in the production of directories, environmentally sensitive manufacturing practices and enhanced recycling programs. About 90 percent of industry members have adopted the guidelines so far. Examples in practice include the use of water soluble inks and recycling-friendly glues, not to mention forsaking the use of virgin trees in their books (many books are made from recycled old phonebooks, mixed with scrap wood; see a previous column that discussed this: www.emagazine.com/view/?3651). Because of widespread and increasing use of the Internet, many sources of information—from newspapers and magazines to newsletters and, yes, directories—are forsaking print for online placement. So it is really just a matter of time before phone directories follow that lead. In the meantime, asking to be removed from the delivery list of your local directory publisher can only help to hasten that inevitability. CONTACTS: YellowPagesGoesGreen.org, www.yellowpagesgoesgreen.org; Yellow Pages Association (YPA), www.ypassociation.org; Association of Directory Publishers (ADP), www.adp.org.
National Robotics TournamentSTEM Guyana, in association with the Public Telecommunications Ministry, has launched a series of certification sessions for technology buffs or school leaders who are interested in starting technology clubs in their communities.A one-day training session is being held today, and STEM Guyana local Master Trainers will support the training sessions.A most interesting toolThe STEM Guyana Program Committee includes Local Director Colin Sawh, who designed the sessions; co-founder Leon Caleb Christian; tech startup inclusion consultant Karen Abrams; and Ima Christian, who is studying Science, Technology and Society at Stanford University.Coaches will learn details about the league, how to organize and lead a technology club, how to fundraise for their club, how to prepare young people to compete in a global marketplace, how to use the league competition software, the basics of building and programming robots, and the fundamentals of MIT Scratch programming.Certified coaches will be expected to create clubs and prepare teams for competition in the Scratch and Robotics nationwide leagues scheduled for launch during the last week of February.More than 50 coaches are expected to participate, with Bartica alone sending 16 teachers for training.The seminars began on Feb 1st with 13 coaches who signed up online, certified from across Guyana. On Friday, STEM Guyana hosted 18 teachers from Guyana’s public schools, while the Bartica teachers along with some private school teachers will be trained today.The program kicks off each day at 08:30am at the Public Telecommunications Ministry Conference Room. The cost of the seminar will be $2000 per session.