Jane M. Sawyer

DCL

I was reading a post over on Grist about how it may be time to ban large, printed phone directories. You know, those giant phone books that get dropped off on your doorstep multiple times per year (at least, that's been my experience. The Yellow Pages directory I get seems to publish new issues more often than some of my favorite magazines.) I can't think of the last time I looked for something in the phone book. I use Google instead.

The most disturbing part of the post over on Grist was seeing the statistic (as reported by WhitePages, an online phone directory) that less than 16 percent of Americans recycle their old phone books. In some cases, people don't think they can recycle them (you can! Most municipalities accept phone books for recycling now.) What a waste.

Recycling is great, but it would be even better to do two things:

- Check with your local phone company to see if they have an "opt-out" program. If they do, sign up for it. If they don't, suggest that they start one.

- Reuse the phone books you already have. Here are a few ideas for you.

Ideas for Reusing Phone Books

1. Make a super cute (and functional!) pencil holder.

2. Make a booster seat for your child. Most of us probably remember sitting on a phone book to reach the dining room table better. Go a step further and cover the phone book with some cotton batting and a fabric remnant to make it even more comfortable.

3. Use them, sheet by sheet, as an alternative to paper towels. Clean windows and mirrors. Go a step further and use your own homemade glass cleaner, too.

4. Have a fire place, outdoor fire pit, or charcoal grill? Use your phone book pages for kindling. 5. Crumple the pages into balls to use as packaging filler for delicate objects. 6. Next time your kid needs to papier mache something, use pages from your old phone books. 7. Shred or tear the pages and use them as bedding in your worm bin. 8. Or, shred the pages up and add them to your compost pile. 9. Use stacks of the pages (10 pages thick or so) to kill the grass where you want a new garden bed. Simply lay the stacks of pages over the grass (overlapping them a bit), wet them down, and cover them with mulch, shredded leaves, or straw. In a few weeks, the grass will be dead and you have a new garden bed! 10. Make a secret storage box for valuables out of a large phone book. 11. Use one as a kneeling pad for when you're working in the garden. 12. If you're ripening green tomatoes (or storing fruits such as apples long-term) wrap each fruit in a page from the phone book and store wrapped fruit in a box in a cool, dry place. 13. Make envelopes from them. These are especially good for storing seeds that you save from your garden because you can make them in any shape or size you need. 14. Make pots for seed starting. You usually see this tip with newspapers, but it works just as well with pages from your phone directory. There you have it: fourteen simple ideas for reusing a phone book. Do you have any to add to the list?