Earth Day: Eco-Friendly Book Buying

2 Apr


Before we delve into the meat of the text, let’s pause and talk about where we buy our books. There are so many options out there for getting your read on, and I’m not talking about digital vs. print.  In fact, I’m going to skip that whole conversation and let Robin tackle it later.  If you’re a fan of good, old fashioned print books, what is the most earth-friendly way to feed that addiction?

Here are five of my favorite places to find books that satisfy my reverence for both Middle and Mother Earth.

The Public Library It’s no surprise I love the library.  Aside from all the other cool things they offer, library books are pretty darn green. Only the most dedicated book-swapper can hope to match 44 shares of Gone Girl in the last three years.  And figuring that each book gets checked out for 3 weeks that means once the library bought it, the book was checked out every single week the library owned it.  Those are some real stats I just pulled.  Most libraries also sell their books when they stop circulating and recycle them if they’re too worn.  It’s great when the most economical option is also one of the most green.  Find your local library.

BookMooch, Paperback Swap, etc. – Book swaps are the next best thing to having your friend give you their used copy.  Unlike the library, there are no overdue fines so you can horde to your heart’s content.  Generally, you have to pay for shipping, but it’s free to receive the books.  You’ll post a list of books you really want.  The site notifies you when one of your books is available and you request it.  You get credit for swapping, so once you’ve proven you’re a good sender, you can start receiving books.  I’ve used BookMooch for awhile and while the selection isn’t always stellar, it’s a nice way to get rid of your old books and try something new.  Paperback Swap is another popular option.

Your Local Bookstore – So you need the newest book out there.  No way you can wait.  The best way you can support your community is to buy it at your local independent bookstore.  Buying locally cuts down on shipping waste (single boxes aren’t being sent to every household in America) and 68% of what you spend stays in your community.  While that not necessarily a green reason for buying local, it’s still pretty rad to support your neighbors.  If you want to get a little greener, find a used bookstore.  The old man buried behind a pile of Harry Harrison paperbacks would sure love some company. To find your nearest independent bookseller, try Indiebound.

Powell’s – If your local store doesn’t have a great selection or you’re agoraphobic or it’s still 35-freaking-degrees out and  you refuse to leave the house until it gets to a sensible temperature, Powell’s is a good option for online purchasing.  Powell’s is a stereotypical Portland company that thinks things like delivery vehicles that use biodiesel and solar powering its facilities are a great idea.  Well, we kind of think it’s an okay idea, too.  You can read more about Powell’s green initiatives on their Green Committee page.

Better World Books – The mission of Better World Books is both social and environmental. Like TOM’s shoes, BWB is a one-for-one organization, meaning every time you buy a book from them, they donate a book to one of their literacy partners.  That’s not where it ends, though.  BWB also does a heck of a job recycling books that might otherwise be thrown away.  They take books from libraries, schools, and drop-off centers and resell or recycle them.  Once a book is sold, those community organizations get a cut of the profits AND some of the money goes to BWB’s literacy partners.  If you’re worried about the impact of shipping, BWB mitigates that by offering carbon offsets.  To date, they’ve raised over $19 million for literacy programs and saved over 153 million books from being thrown out.  That’s why whenever you see a link to a book on our site during this month, it will link to Better World Books.  You can’t outdo that awesome.

What are some of your favorite places to buy books?



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