Anneslie resident Julie Klinger-Luht and a tall stack of phone books headed for “upcycling,” rather than the trash bin. Courtesy Photo / J. Watts Photography
Anneslie resident Julie Klinger-Luht and a tall stack of phone books headed for “upcycling,” rather than the trash bin. Courtesy Photo / J. Watts Photography (HANDOUT)

When it comes to the environment, even small actions can make a big difference. Anneslie resident Julie Klinger-Luht, a mom of two young boys, is deeply concerned about the Earth that today’s children will inherit. She fears that people have a sense that minor deeds don’t have an impact, and that feeling of helplessness prevents them from taking action.

But when a community comes together to combine many small acts, the benefits add up, Klinger-Luht reminds us. She has taken on a Project Yellow Pages initiative to cut down on unwanted phone books, and it’s something simple we all can do.

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“I’d been having a lot of anxiety about climate change and my children’s futures on this planet. Seeing the news coverage about the fires in the Amazon made me really distraught,” Klinger-Luht recalled. “On the same day I saw the report about the fires, we received a Yellow Pages delivery. The juxtaposition of the fires in the Amazon accelerating climate change and the needless waste of paper (and trees) of the phone books that few people even use in the age of Google was really upsetting.”

A web address (yellowpagesoptout.com) on the cover of the phone book caught Klinger-Luht’s attention. It offered a way to opt out of receiving printed directories, so she immediately requested that her household no longer get them.

She shared the information with friends and neighbors, who also took steps to opt out. That’s when Klinger-Luht discovered another way to bring purpose to unwanted directories that already had been delivered.

“I contacted the art school at Towson University. I’d heard they might be able to use phone books for their printmaking department," Klinger-Luht said. "I was put in touch with the head of that department, and she said that she would happily take any phone books that I could collect for them.” So, she then took to local social media pages and put out a call for unwanted phone books to “upcycle” in this way. She soon collected 42 phone books for the college. Others commented that they’d already recycled their phone books, but they would be opting out of future deliveries.

Klinger-Luht says she is happy to collect other phone books for the art school and can be reached at luhtja@gmail.com. She also strongly suggests that people take a few minutes to opt out of future deliveries by going online to yellowpagesoptout.com and following the prompts.

When a situation has you feeling concerned, taking action isn’t just the right thing to do, but it helps you feel better, too.

“This project helped me minimize my anxiety,” Klinger-Luht said. “Doing something is so important. In probably two hours of my time, I was able to help people minimize future paper waste, repurpose trash and help students create art. If we all take a few hours of our time to do something — clean up a stream, go to a meeting of an environmental group, write a legislator demanding action — we can minimize climate change. It’s going to take all of us.”

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