Monday, September 15, 2008

10 Easy Ways to Be More Sustainable with Books

I am a bibliophile. Always have been. I love reading, but I also love books in and of themselves. They are a beautiful thing. I really can't see myself reading digital books. You can't curl up with a Kindle. You can't write its margins or risk dropping it in the bathtub on one of the rare occasions you have a long afternoon bath.

But I've had to curb my book habit a bit and change it in ways. According to eco-libris "about 20 million trees are cut down annually for virgin paper to be used for the production of books sold in the U.S. alone." That's a lot of trees. It makes me think twice now before buying a book on the Barnes and Noble sale table just because I can. If you've got a serious book habit like me, here are ten ways to be more sustainable with it.
  1. Use the library often - especially for books that you're just interested in reading once. If you have kids, take them with you and let them pick out their own books.
  2. Buy used books. Unless the book has just been published, there are many places you can get used books easily - eBay, Amazon, Barnes and Noble's website, Alibris, and other online sites have used books.
  3. Borrow books from your friends and lend them yours.
  4. Have a book swap with friends - do it for both adult books and kids books. A book swap is when you give your books up but you get ones in return.
  5. Try for swapping books. Swaptree is an online services that matches up the books you want to give away with the books (or DVD's or video games) you want.
  6. Take advantage of library books sales. Many libraries purge once a year and accept donations from the public. Then they have a sale (my local library sells hardbacks for $2 and paperbacks for $1).
  7. Purge your own library from time to time. If you've got books that are just sitting collecting dust that you will never read again, let someone who wants to read them have them. You can donate them to libraries before their books sales, senior citizen centers, the Good Will and other places.
  8. Contact book publishers and let them know that you would like them to start using recycled paper when printing books.
  9. Plant a tree for each book you read to help balance out the paper consumption your book habit causes. 
  10. Read the eco-libris blog. They have a lot of good information about books and being sustainable with them.
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Janine said...

There's a local library doing a booksale this weekend

Lorie said...

I also like PaperBackSwap for trading books.

Robin Shreeves said...

Janine - I know it's my favorite day of the year. I consider it a holiday - that particular book sale. This year, however, one of my college roommates is getting married this Saturday. It could only take a friend I love this much to make me miss my book sale!

Lorie- I didn't know about that site. Thanks for sharing.

Rebecca Laffar-Smith said...

I love Book Crossing. It's a great way to recycle books around the world and it's fun to watch their journey around the planet and share book experiences with other avid readers. :-)

James Wang said...

Nice list. All good ways of reducing some of the environmental impact of a very necessary industry.

I'm actually hoping that the digitization of books will catch on further and reduce the load even more. Amazon's Kindle and some others have been looking far more promising than the other readers that have come before.

Allison said...

I too LOVE books. And since I turned green it is so hard to wait for it in the mail after buying or trading for it used. I would go into a bookstore with my husband and just die because I can't come home with the one I want right now. But I have plenty in my little library to keep me going until it comes.
Great post!