How Yellow went green to help save the planet

Phone directories are a valuable source of information but the nature of the fast pace of business dictates that contacts often change. New businesses spring up, people move premises and therefore new editions of phone books like the Yellow Pages are updated to make them as useful as possible.

The problem is – what to do with the old phone books?

In the case of Cayman Islands Yellow Pages, explained marketing manager Eileen Keens, the answer was the introduction of the Yellow2Green scheme.

“A healthy clean environment is everyone’s responsibility and as a responsible corporate citizen we could not turn away from the well known problem Grand Cayman is facing with the current state of the landfill. Hence the creation of the recycling programme. We accept our directories as well as everybody else’s and we sent them to the United States to be recycled. Each year our new directories are distributed around October, therefore November is a good time to pick up the old ones. People don’t like to give the directory until they have the new one, for obvious reasons, mentioned Eileen.

“We try to involve the community in this recycling initiative and collect as many directories as possible, not only from the past year but people tend to hoard directories for many years. Last year we collected over 37,000 directories which was amazing.

“My personal goal was to get 50 per cent of the 75,000 directories which we bring into the island including o

ther ones like the Buzz. It’s a great thing when you see the community come together to actively participate in this campaign for a common good,” said Keens.

Phonebooks to Fiber

The Yellow2Green initiative encouraged citizens to take old phone books to one of any 11 drop-off points around the island, including containers within all the sponsoring supermarkets, LIME and Camana Bay which helped matters a lot as in order to be recycled the directories needed to be dry. The books

were shipped – in four 40ft containers – by Thompson “Tropical” Shipping Line to Tampa free of charge where they were recycled into GreenFiber insulation, used for homes. So far, GreenFiber has worked with communities in the US and the Caribbean to keep over a million tons of paper out of landfills.

“In order to make this happen we wanted to put an educational spin on it too. We firmly believe that if you start with young children, when they are older they will value preservation and grasp the concept of personal responsibility and recycling”, added Keens.

A competition involving 17 local schools – the Yellow2Green School Challenge – was set up and the top three schools which collected the most, per student enrolled, won a cash prize to be used for new books or equipment in the school. North Side came up top, West Bay Wesleyan Academy in second and Prospect Primary School won third place.

“We also did a challenge within every school and the class that collected the most received a pizza party. It was very well received,” explains Keens, in perhaps the understatement of the year.

“We really appreciate the support from all our partners and with their help the programme is expected to run annually.”

Brian Uzzell, managing director of Cayman Free Press, which publishes Cayman Buzz Phone Directory, said that the campaign had included the Buzz and been great.

“We are delighted that they do this; it is an initiative that shows great foresight,” he commented.

If you would like to be involved, please contact Eileen on 814 1798 or [email protected] for more information.