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Waste or recycle: How will you use your phone book?

FARGO — Ask yourself, "When was the last time I used a phone book?"

If you're like 70 percent of the American population, you probably don't recall the last time you used the archaic directory that at one-time was considered a necessity to most individuals.

According to The Los Angeles Times, a measly 30 percent of Americans use a phone book.

Only 22 percent of Americans actually recycle them, which means the obsolete books are not only useless, they're also wasteful.

Approximately 5 million trees are used and printed on to create the whitepages each year and 165,000 of those books are put in landfills.

"If so few people use the phone book and recycle the phone book, we have an issue on our hands," says Alex Algard, chief executive of "That begs the question: What can we do about it?"

The most simple solution his team came up with was to use an opt-in service called the National Yellow Pages Consumer Choice & Opt-Out where companies and individuals could decide whether or not to receive a phone book. All you need is your address and zipcode.

Finally, if you need to recycle your outdated phone books, curbside recycling will take them along with all your other recyclables.

However, if you don't have access to curbside recycling, visit: to figure out where you can recycle your old phone books.

Not interested in opting out or recycling? That's OK. There are plenty of other things you can do with your old phone book.

Seed starting pots

Roll two to three phone book pages around a small jar. Fold the excess paper across the bottom of the jar and secure with tape. Slide the jar out. You've now created a biodegradable seed-starting pot that can be transplanted into the garden.

Eliminate odors

Wad up several pieces of phone book pages and put them in your boots or shoes overnight to absorb moisture and eliminate odors.

Suppress weeds

Use eight to 10 pages from the phone book and layer them around garden plants to block out light and suppress weed growth. Top with grass clippings or leaf mulch to keep pages in place.

Ripen fruit

It's no secret that paper bags ripen fruit, but did you know a phone book can do the same trick? Ripen fruits and vegetables in individual phone book pages and store them in a cool, dry place until perfectly ripe.

Make compost

Your compost pile needs to have the proper ratio of carbon-rich materials or "browns," and nitrogen-rich materials, or "greens." Phone book pages are considered a "brown" material. Shred them and disperse them amongst the compost as needed.

Use as firestarter

Tightly roll individual pages into logs and use them as kindling to start fires all summer long.

Wash windows and mirrors

For a streak-free shine, use individual phone book pages to wash windows and mirrors.