Phone Book Recycling Idea: Green Building Material

We just got a brand new phone book tossed onto our porch. The first of several to come, I’m sure.

At least three different ones arrived at work – Yellow Pages, Yellow Book, Names and Numbers, and two sizes for each. That’s a lot of waste. And yet it seems that people are still more likely to “google” the information.

Over 600 million phone books are printed every year, and huge amounts of energy and resources are used in the making of them. How much paper does it take to print them all? And what happens to them when the new one comes out? I hope they all get recycled, but I also imagine that many of them end up in the landfill.

I have an idea.

Build a house with the walls made out of phone books. Not load-bearing walls, but using the phone books for infill and insulation. If the wall frames were built to fit the size of a phone book, the books could be stacked up like bricks inside.

You could have 8 to 10 inch thick solid walls, and it seems to me that the phone books would be compressed by the weight of the ones on top, and there wouldn’t be the air space necessary for fire danger.


Who’s gonna build one first?

Derek Markham

Things I dig include: simple living, natural fatherhood, attachment parenting, natural building, unassisted childbirth (homebirth), bicycles, permaculture, organic and biodynamic gardening, vegan peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips, bouldering, and the blues. Find me elsewhere at @NaturalPapa, @DerekMarkham, Google+, or RebelMouse.

5 thoughts on “Phone Book Recycling Idea: Green Building Material

  • July 1, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    make sure you fire proof it! borax helps, maybe make fireproof papier mache, i used similar for insulating a large house in montana

  • September 19, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    I am a highschool teacher in Canada and we are looking to build a small building using alternative building material. I was at a workshop today and met an architect from Dalhousie University who suggested we use phone books. He has built using phone books and said they are not only load bearing but can even be made into roof trusses.

    • December 28, 2009 at 8:48 am

      Thanks for the links! I knew there was someone out there doing it.

  • August 17, 2010 at 7:51 am

    Imaginative example given. I think with all the phone books combined, those are enough to even construct the Burj. I just wonder when you have the internet, why does one need the phone book in the first place? It’s a call for concrete action to be taken to boycott phone books.


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