Fewer people are finding that they need phone books anymore thanks to the internet, but rather than throw them away where they would take up landfill space, elementary students in Carbon County are collecting them to recycle.
Lori Nemeth has thousands of phone books stored near Lehighton.
“I have been going around to households and churches and different places that have phone books and have been collecting them for my daughter. She is a second grader at Towamensing Elementary School,” Nemeth said.
She is part of a contest sponsored by Carbon County to encourage school children to recycle phone books.
“We award prizes. There are five top collectors in the county which get $100 savings bonds or the equivalent and then the school which collected the most phone books per capita will also get an award out of the program,” said Duane Dellecker of the Carbon County Solid Waste Department.
The books are shredded and used by an area farmer instead of straw.
“It’s much more absorbent, it’s more sanitary, it decomposes much quickly in the fields and it’s free. What more can you ask for?” asked Dellecker.
Some people don’t use phone books. You can look up numbers on the internet in a few seconds. That has some officials wondering if the days of phone books are numbered.
“It’s all based on economics. As long as these phone companies can make money by saving advertising space, they’re going to produce these phone books,” Dellecker added.
Officials said most of the school districts in Carbon County participate in the phone book recycling program. They hope that some day all school districts will get involved.