How Far Can You Throw a Phone Book? (and how to stop receiving them)

I can toss a phone book at least 20 feet. I tried it on a whim.

Frustrated at seeing so many stacks of unwanted phone books at my apartment building, we decided to use them for once.

Should I throw it overhanded? Try to sling it? My shot put free-form style didn’t go as far, but I had more success when I tried to throw it underhanded. The papers flapped in the air, and the floppy book landed with a thud.

Doug was able to do better, and even my mom made a toss!

I know some people like using the yellow pages, but I really don’t. And if I didn’t need one directory, then I certainly don’t need two, or four, or even a companion mini size. I don’t like having to deal with something I didn’t want in the first place.

To stop receiving the phone book, go to and you’ll find the opt-out instructions for the publishers in your area.

The opt out website was started last year by the Yellow Pages Association, which agreed, “It doesn’t benefit anyone to deliver a directory to someone who doesn’t want one.” Perhaps that will make the opt-out process a little less of a challenge.

But can it work? I see delivery companies deposit truckloads of phone books at apartment buildings, stacking them in a long wall next to mail boxes with no regard for individual addresses or preferences.  The phone books stay there until someone else finally throws them out (or recycles them, I hope), and soon the next issue is delivered.

I opted out, but if the phone books keep coming, I’ll just work on my free throw before I recycle it. What else is there? I don’t need a booster seat, and I’m all set for garden mulch, thanks.

(Watch the video of phone books in flight…)

About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. We use our phone books for two things. They make great worm bin bedding. They also make great starter for our grill. Other than that, yup, useless.

    Alissa´s last post…500 Fruits – update #1

  2. I keep one phone book in the house as it is faster than turning on the computer to look online. I registered last year to opt out of the phone book, but I still got one at home and at the office. Unfortunately, if the deliver person (usually contracted out) doesn’t go by the delivery list you will still get one. I honestly wonder how many really follow the list and how many just deliver one to every home. And it’s not like they put it on your porch. Ours are left at the end of our driveway or in the grass. That irritates me the most!

  3. On Mythbusters, they used phone books to bullet-proof a car. :)

  4. The last time I got a phone book, I tore out the pages with the local emergency numbers and taped them inside my kitchen cabinets. The rest of the book went into recycling. As did the three additional phone books that arrived on my porch in the next month.

    Lindsey´s last post…Chicken in the Skillet, Abby Underfoot

  5. We keep a phone book in our car. It gets used a lot when we’re out on the road!

  6. Great idea! We live in a small town now and don’t get but one white page listing which is helpful in our community. I WISHED I knew about this when we lived in the city – we got tons of them then!!! Thanks and great toss! ;D

    Jenn@FFP´s last post…All Free Clear Giveaway!!!

  7. We hardly ever use them! There is one (of four!) that has some takeout menus, so we look at that occasionally, but we don’t do takeout much. I opted out last year and it made no difference, but I live in a condo and they seem to just leave a stack with no regard for the opt out.

    liz´s last post…homemade deodorant, for real

  8. Thanks so much for the links. I dread those days I hear the thud in the driveway. Another giant book to recycle. I just opted out.

    Jennifer´s last post…Stepping Stones with Grandpa

  9. GOD BLESS YOU for this post! We live in an apartment community and just received our copy a few days ago. Of course, I left it sitting right outside our front door, hoping that someone would steal it (rather than our welcome mat or cute little puppy welcome stand), but nonetheless, it was still there when I opened the door this morning. Here’s to hoping the opt-out program really works!!

    Jill Garcia´s last post…A Mom After God’s Own Heart: Chapter 4

  10. This is a dream come true. Even if it doesn’t work perfectly I am happy just knowing I might not receive another phone book!

    Tracey´s last post…Goodwill Chair Makeover

  11. THANK YOU FOR THIS POST!!!!! (yes, yelling)

    Megan@SortaCrunchy´s last post…The Birthday Road Trip

  12. okay, you crack me up! that was too cute. opting out next.

  13. Christy says:

    Thank you for posting this info!! I just opted out. When our THREE books were delivered again recently, my husband and I were commenting: what a waste! We don’t even want them, we just deposit them in the recycling bin. With the internet, we don’t ever use the books.

  14. Brilliant! Many thanks for this!

  15. I like the suggestions for using pages to start charcoal and keeping one in the car. Other than that, I feel the same way-why do I have to figure out how to get rid of something I didn’t want in the first place?

    Kelly Cook´s last post…Our Sunday

  16. We’ve opted out, but used to use them to press flowers :)

  17. Rachel, you need to spin like the discus throwers to get some good distance!

  18. ACKK – the dreaded delivery of multiple phone books! I use them for art projects – alter the pages with ink and stamps or just use the pages to protect my table when stamping,painting and glueing. When the pages are all stuck together, heave the whole dang thing in the recycling.

    I do like the idea of the toss, though – seems more therapeutic!!

    deb mattin´s last post…Father’s Day

  19. Thank you. Thank you Thank you! Every time one shows up at my door I think about checking online to see how to opt out and promptly forget about it.

    paisleypenguin´s last post…A Raise!

  20. I absolutely LOVE that you decided to take your daughter, husband and mom out and THROW phonebooks. That’s hilariously awesome!

    If you ever come to visit old BU, you’ll have to stop by and we can all throw phonebooks together. :-)

    Kat @ InspiredToAction´s last post…GIVEAWAY! Motivation Monday: How To Conquer HUGE Fears or Dreams

  21. Thank you for the link on opting out! Very useful =)

    Karisa Rivera´s last post…God’s Princess

  22. Wow, I have never tried throwing phone book so I would not know.

    I keep two phone books, one to actually use it and other one for my flower drying rack. It works great for it, have you tried it?

    I recycle and make craft cutting from rest of them.

    Zengirl @ Heart and Mind´s last post…101 changes: Change 5 – Smile when you wake up

  23. I’m pretty sure delivery of my phone books (and yes I get LOTS of them) are outsourced. Wondering if opt out would work for me, but highly doubtful. At least I can feel better knowing I’ve tried to make a difference.

    Juice´s last post…Things That Get Me All Riley-ed Up

  24. has also recently expanded its free service to include phone books. You need to search for the directory publisher to make your request (for example, AT&T, Dex, Supermedia, etc.) The advantage of using Catalog Choice is that you’ll have a record inside of your free account as to when you made the opt-out or opt-down request. If your phone book is still delivered, then we’ll work directly with the publisher on your behalf. If we don’t have your publisher listed, let us know and we’ll add it to the service. We will be improving the phone book opt-out process of our service in the months ahead.

  25. You can find the local early intervention program for kiddos in your area and see if they want them. My son is dev. delayed and we used our phone books to help in his physical therapy. We opened it up (half/half) and duct taped it to make a step for him to practice stepping up on things. His physical therapist is always looking for phonebooks. So after you toss it give them a call to see if they can be used. They also use pool noodles, milk crates, pvc pipe and many other household things to make tools for learning.

  26. Please don’t let anyone take away my phonebook! I use mine all the time. I have a very unfancy cell phone, and firing up the computer just to look up a number takes too much time. We only get 2 anyway, which is perfect; 1 for home, and 1 for car.

    However, we do use old phonebooks at work for exercise steps. (I am a home health PT) We use one or two duct taped together so our pt’s can practice stairs safely. Duct-tape 4 together and you have a cheap Aerobic step ;)

  27. I actually just used one yesterday! I couldn’t find the business card for my son’s allergist and didn’t want to kick my kids off the computer to look it up, so I pulled out the phone book and did things the old-fashioned way.

    Alison´s last post…Does Your Money Have a Job?

  28. Looks like you touched a nerve with this one! We got 2 phone books last week, as did, I assume, every one of the 18,000 families in my town. I might use a phone book 12 times a year, and would be happy simply not to get them any more. Thank you so much for telling us how we can opt out of this craziness. I think I’m going to write a letter to the editor of my small town paper to share this information with the whole town.

  29. Yeah, I’ve found the opt-out program doesn’t work, at least for apartment buildings. I opted out but they just delievered a huge stack of them to my building’s mail room several months ago, where about half of them still remain to this day, uncollected. I like the idea to use them for starting fires or the BBQ though, since apparently I’ll be receiving them no matter what.

  30. Phone books are mostly useless now that most of the country has access to the internet (either personal computer or library). It’s way faster to use an online phone book and it doesn’t destroy trees. It seems like the best use of them would be leave a small stack at the post office and if someone wanted a phone book they could go to the post office to get one. I imagine that would save thousands of trees from being cut down and millions of phone books from being tossed out.

    Jen C.´s last post…Making Tea

  31. brand spankin’ new to your blog – and excited to read more.

    i have amazing 3 little boys (under 4). we go through more “coloring” paper than you can imagine. i decided to use our yellow pages as “marker” pages, and all the little graphics as “motivational stickers” – the boys love looking over their new coloring sheet to see if they have a new funny “sticker” before they draw to their little hearts content.

    i still haven’t made it through one of the four phone books we’ve received this year – but hey, i feel better about the phone books at least getting used before, and my crafting budget is thankful for the little reprieve.

  32. At first we needed phonebooks, because we didnt have one by each phone. Now, though, we seem to get a new one every month from different companies or slightly different areas/communities. Now many of them become clutter and we just throw away the oldest ones.

  33. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I HATE getting phone books! I just opted out with all 3 publishers and hope to never get one again!

  34. I use phone books for pressing flowers and leaves. They work great! The tissue-like pages dry them out quickly and in a stack they really do get pressed. Then you can make flower arrangements on paper or fabric to then frame (use old/used frames or make your own with sticks/pinecones) to give as gifts. Wrap the gift in phone book pages! :)

  35. great tip. I was wondering the same thing. I think we could use ONE book a year–not four. Save a tree, already.

    Jena (Organizing Mommy)´s last post…Something creative; something reinvented

  36. I used mine for mulch on the garden, cleaning windows and picking up dog poo. They’re excellent, where else do you get a whole book of paper for FREE!

  37. I use it every time I need to wrap something for protection LOL!
    To stop receiving it I guess you have to tell your telephone provider that you’re not interested receiving it. :(

    Jaydee´s last post…How to speed up a slow or sluggish computer

  38. The recyclers around my home won’t take phone books- they are already recycled.

    Donna´s last post…Starting July out the right way-

  39. Such a great tip! I can’t remember the last time I used the Yellow Pages – I always search online.

    Lisa´s last post…Conor Month by Month