Fourteen or so ways to turn telephone books into eco-household helpers

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Formerly indispensable things – such as cassette recorders, watches and bona fide paper maps -- have gone the way of the dinosaur thanks to the ever-constant progression of technology, so it hardly comes as a surprise that the once glorious telephone book is in the very same sinking ship. Once a veritable cornucopia of residential and local business contact information, now that online search engines serve our knowledge-seeking whims 24 hours a day, the ridiculously thick yellow books do nothing more than take up valuable real estate in our cupboards and closets. Bahhhh! Who needs ‘em anymore?

Despite the temptation you may have to hurl them in the closest garbage pail or shake your fists at the sky while bemoaning their punctual yet totally unwelcome yearly arrival, howz about making the best of a not-exactly-idyllic situation? Here are a whole slew of telephone repurposing ideas guaranteed to make you jump for joy (and maybe even covet your neighbor’s copies)…plus an obvious solution regarding how to stop them dead in their tracks.

DROP DEAD, YELLOWBOOK!

Add your name to this online petition letting the Yellow Pages Association know that you support an ‘on demand’ directory system rather than automatic household delivery. The added bonus is that when you do so, you’ll conveniently be removed from their delivery list. You can also just log onto the YellowPagesGoesGreen website and click on the “stop your print edition” link at the top of the page.

OH, THE ARCHITECTURAL POSSIBILITIES!

Using an open metal frame work, Richard Kroeker Design crafted an outdoor shed composed of 7000 stacked phone books secured with screws – plus the entire structure is crowned with laminated Yellowpage roof joists. With a few carefully mapped-out design tweaks, imagine the phenomenal backyard pup palace you could create for your best doggy friend -- or if you have children – you could easily make their day by erecting an easy-peasy kiddie play house with very little time commitment.

SMOTHER UNWELCOME WEEDS!

Green thumbs love placing recycled cardboard between their planting rows to prevent weed seeds from taking root – or, once veggies are established -- the same system prevents water from prematurely evaporating under the hot sun. It makes sense that slabs of ‘watered’ telephone book would achieve the same effect, plus they won’t blow away since they’ll dry together all puckery and wavy. Plus, here’s a gardening bonus: why not create your own recycled telephone page ‘seed tape’ for perfectly uniform sowing?

THE QUICKER PICKER-UPPER!


Those in the ‘eco-know’ make a habit of banishing forest-depleting paper towels from their shopping list and household on a permanent basis…but there are those times when you’re faced with something so entirely grody that you simply can’t bear to use your spiffy new sponge on it. Cat vomit is a good one. Oozing baby diaper sludge is another. If you have a family of miniature humans and/or assorted pets, the ongoing assault of bodily fluids requires serious clean-up tools, and the surprisingly absorbent pages of an old phone book take care of the mess like it’s nobody’s business. Oh -- and guess what? If newsprint is a window cleaner’s best kept secret for a streak-free shine, what do you think the pages of a phone book would do?

CREATE AN ARTFUL DIVERSION!

Ever imagined that three dimensional, hand-carved portraits of your favorite historical figures and celebrities could be created with the dusty telephone book relics stuffed in the back of your closet?

GET THEE TO A SHREDDERY!

If you have an electronic shredder on hand and a regular supply of telephone books, you’ll always have the ideal raw material for children’s art and craft projects, biodegradable Easter basket ‘grass’, future garden gold for your compost pile, shipping ‘filler’ and moving day box fodder.

DIAL UP YOUR FASHION SENSE!


Waste Basket Boutique’s simple 1960’s paper shift may pale in comparison to Jolios Paons’ festively fanned-party frock and Galit Zeirman’s cigarette girl-inspired creation, but in all cases, the sky really is the limit in terms of biodegradable style.

FREE HEAT OR BARBECUE GRILL FUEL!

Create homemade fire logs for winter time warmth or get your outdoor grill raging with crumpled-up pages.

DÉCOR-ABLE WAYS TO TURN TRASH INTO TREASURE!


If you think that it’s impossible to transform the pages of an ugly old telephone book into a cool upcycled pen organizer, a set of coiled beverage coasters, a soil-filled planter for your best looking indoor greenery, a corrugated end table, or a utilitarian bowl, prepare to be dazed and bemused.

KEEP WINTERY ELEMENTS AT BAY!


Stuff a handmade draft blocker with as many shredded pages of your severely neglected telephone book as you can cram inside….or wrap multiple layers around water pipes that are prone to freezing for a cheap yet effective insulation fix.

OFFER A COMFY OASIS FOR PETS!

Shredded telephone book pages offer a totally free alternative to pet store-purchased bedding for birds, guinea pigs, hamsters, etc. and if you’re house-breaking a puppy, solid sheets will most certainly do the trick.

IT’S AN (ECO) WRAP!

Enjoy a planet-friendly lunch by passing on the plastic in favor of a few folded telephone book pages…or give your next gift the Yellowpages treatment.

IDEAL FOR THE HEIGHT-CHALLENGED!


Need a leg up on the competition? Whether your child is vertically compromised and could use a little boost at the dinner table or you caaaan’t exaaaactly reach that book on the top shelf, old telephone books are the savior of the DIY set. If you’re put off by the fact that your makeshift step ladder is somewhat of an eyesore, then wrap several stacked books in really durable upholstery fabric for an aesthetically pleasing, lickety-split makeover.

KICK YOUR CHARMIN TO THE CURB!


It may not be bleached with oodles of chemicals (like what we’re all accustomed to), but easily foldable and/or crumpable telephone book paper IS still perfectly usable and absorbent. If you’re in an unanticipated bathroom predicament where there isn’t even one single square to spare, it will certainly do the job. In particular, this small little eco-step shouldn't be much of a stretch for those who are partial to allowing their yellow to mellow...



Elizah Leigh | @elizahleigh
Elizah Leigh's master's degree in education combined with her passion for the written word and deep-seated interest in environmental issues has proven to be the ideal trifecta for her present status as a green journalist. Currently commissioned to write a reference book on vegetarianism, Elizah hopes to inspire people through her words. Follow Elizah on Facebook.

Photo credit:cc:flickr.com/photos/bondidwhat

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