Mojave Desert & Mountan Recycling Authority

Stopping paper waste before it hits home

Recently, the latest edition of the Yellow Pages appeared in my driveway.

I thought, “Wow, they still publish that? How quaint!” I picked it up, and as I headed into my garage, I took off the plastic film. I threw that into the garbage, dumped the book into my paper recycling bin, and walked into my house.

That’s right: The yellow pages never made it into my house, and honestly, I didn’t give them another thought.

Well, I didn’t until a colleague told me about the Yellow Pages “opt out” program, and I realized I don’t have to receive a copy in my driveway in the first place.

We all know the refrain, “Reduce, reuse, recycle,” but let’s take a closer look at that. “Recycle” is third in line as an option for resource management and waste prevention. “Reduce” is first, and if we don’t need something, it should not be produced in the first place. It’s a completely absurd waste of energy and resources to produce something, not use it at all, and then recycle (or, re-produce) it into something else.

Are we all now thinking about the junk mail we pull from the mailbox and dump straight into the recycling bin?


A few years ago I discovered the PaperKarma app, which is the junk mail equivalent of the Do Not Call Registry, but simpler—and more fun because you get to use your camera phone. From the app, take a photo of the mailing label on the shopping catalog or other junk mail you don’t want to receive, and click on the “Unsubscribe Me!” button.

That’s it! Once you’ve opted out of the Yellow Pages and your junk mail, tell your friends so they can do it too. No one has to know about your previous recycling indiscretions. 

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