I take his ideas numbers 2 and 4, to reduce environmental impact and improve Public Relations, to comment a bit more.
To reduce environmental impact by reduction on the number of books distributed is a false question and it is a myth I would like to reformulate.
What is important for YP industry is to optimize the distribution of books, ideally distributing to those that really use the books or have potential to use them. If there are areas or households that have potential to use the printed directories, probably boomers and matures will have more propensity to use the print then youngers (1), YP should delivey to these potential users/buyers and on the contrary the areas or households that no longer use the printed platform, this distribution should stop.
At the end the number of books can increase, decrease or stay the same, depending the actual households penetration, proportion of users and no users and distribution strategy.
Improve the Public Relations game, in the words of Chris, "to acknowledge that print usage is falling and be open about how much". In my opinion he is absolutely right and this is really the values of transparency, integrity and honesty which enforms an ethical company. Nevertheless I think that in the Public Relations equation, YP and also other Publishers, Printers and Forest related industies, should also make the public aware that the idea of paper products beeing bad for the environment, it is not anymore the issue. And this is also in favour of Chris last bonus idea for print, to create new products for niche markets, like "Vegeterian YP, Green/Environmental YP, etc".
To produce paper we need forests and most of the people think that using paper we are contributing to cut the trees and this is dramatically bad for the environment.
However, most of the forests are already well managed in the sense that these forests are growing more then the pace of cutting the trees. Forests in Europe, growing and well managed are a good contribution to countering the threats of climate change. Most of them are certified forests in accordance with PEFC and FSC (2).
Young forests binds more carbon then older ones. The driving force is coming from Sweden, which is following a direction towards a sustainable forest industry. According to "The Forest Industry - a Natural part of Sweeden" (3), growth of sweedish forests will increase by 20 million cubic meters by 2020, which represents 20% increase. The positive impact on environment from managed forests in relation with forests left untouched, has to be also compared with the effects of paper and printing production. Some publishers understood already the impact of the full life cycle of their products (4).
"Discover magazine published the results of its self-imposed" carbon footprint, "each issue of the magazine was the source ... of carbon dioxide..." equivalent to what is "produced by 12 100 watt bulbs glowing for an hour" (5).
The future of print products, affected by the electronic information age, continues to be here to stay. According to The State of Media Democracy Survey, published by Deloitte, states that "72% of all consumers enjoy reading print magazines, a proportion that’s consistent across the generations and 23% of all consumers expect to spend more time reading books this year. A slightly larger percentage expects to spend more time hanging out with family and friends" (6).
This is an important contribution for the health of the environment.
(1) Trends on the usage of Print and Online Media; http://generationwiki.blogspot.com/2009/04/trends-on-usage-of-print-and-online.html
(2) PFSC - Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification; FSC - Forest Stewardship Council
(4) Following the Paper Trail, www.heinzctr.org/publications/index.shtm1#papertrail
(5) Seybold Report, December 18, 2008, pg 13
(6) The State of Media Democracy Survey", Deloitte, 2007