Monday, February 15, 2010

Enjoying a good read ...

Here's an interesting fact: "The U.S. book and newspaper industries combined require the harvest of 125 million trees each year and emit over 40 million metric tons of CO2 annually; equivalent to the annual CO2 emissions of 7.3 million cars." from The Green Press Initiative.

On these cold winter days, there's nothing better than curling up with a good book ... losing one's self in a story or learning something new. The feel of a book ... the smell of the pages ... it is, for many of us, a link to our earliest memories. Unfortunately, it requires a lot of paper and resources to go from an idea in an author's mind to a book in our hands. Yes, we can now read books online or buy reading devices but, for many of us, there is nothing better than holding a book.

Here are a few ideas to minimize the environmental impact of books:

  • Use the library. If you haven't been to a library for some time, you might be surprised. Today's libraries are user-friendly, organizing isles by subject and interest.

  • Consider buying a "used" book. If owning a book is more appealing than "renting" one from a library, check out used book stores. Prices are typically lower and many stores offer cash for your trade-ins and/or points towards other books.

  • Check out thrift stores. Many people buy a book, read it once, and then donate it ... so "almost new" editions can be found.

  • Consider trading books. There are now many online sites dedicated to book swapping. Check out these sites (graciously provided by our bloggy friend Brian, at Eazy Cheezy):

Book Mooch
Swap Tree
Title Trader
Paperback Swap

  • Create your own swap club with friends and family ... once a book has been enjoyed, pass it on.

Living "green" is often a matter of balance. A book, by it's very nature, is less than environmentally friendly but ... by adopting these ideas we can minimize our impact ... all while enjoying a good read.

As always ... I would love to hear from you!


  1. amen sister!! kudos for promoting used books. my motto for the last few years has been 'just wait a month, there will be a used version available'- and there always is. my heart is with powell's here in pdx but also i love the little independent booksellers - st. johns booksellers here in pdx, for example, buys back books and gives you credit towards buying other books from their store. yay :)

    i also have friends who have tons of book and we circulate them like crazy. i only tend to keep books that really impacted me, so after i buy i always pass it on or sell it - good books, eco friendly, good karms :)

    PS - for those without easy access to used bookstores, go to - it's my mecca here in portland, and they have used versions of most of their books. and 'used' doesn't necessarily mean 'gnarly' - just that someone has sold it back to them :)

  2. I can't afford new books, I have to shop at thrift stores and such for secondhand ones. But then, I haven't bought a book in nearly two years and I used to be an avid reader, devouring three or four books a week. All my time now is reading on the net.


  3. Our libraries are very good, they sell off old but still pretty good books at fifty cents or a dollar.

    Since I read fiction books just once, I don't buy new books.

    For info, I go to the internet.

  4. I too am a used book person out of conviction and also because I love used books more than new. But, the only twinge of guilt I feel, is for the authors of whom many are not rich anyway. The less new books there are, the less they earn... Oh for a way for them to get royalties on the book being sold twice...

  5. I've always been a big fan of the library (even though my local library often doesn't have the books I'm looking for!)I frequent the library not only for myself, but for my kids as well. Swapping books is another fabulous idea that I partake in for myself and my children. Not enough people do this. Maybe they are afraid their books will get lost? I remember my father having ornate personal stickers on the inside cover of every one of his books. An easy way to make sure your personal library doesn't mysteriously disappear!

    I know other environmentally friendly ideas are popular now, like the Kindle, but I'm having a difficult time seeing myself snuggling in bed with this device! Yes, they do seem quite useful for the avid traveller though.

    This would be a fantastic Challenge! Think of all that we read on a daily basis, whether it be magazines, newspapers, books, etc. I propose that for one week we do not purchase a newspaper, magazine, book, but rather swap with someone or find your news online......

  6. I LOVE my local used book store! I like to shop for books at garage sales, too. Lots of times people practically give them away.

  7. sorry, i left my comment above as anonymous....

  8. One day I was at my favorite thrift store, and noticed they hadn't put out any new stock.

    "Oh, our book lady is on vacation, she'll be back in a few days."

    I offered to stock the shelves, they said Sure!

    Five years later, I'm a regular volunteer. I stock the bookshelves as a volunteer - it's like running my own little bookstore, except I don't have to worry about making a living.

    And I get a lot of good reading in too!

    If you have time on your hands, sto p by your local thrift store and see if they need help!

  9. Wow, awesome post! Thanks for plugging my site. I've been extremely sick the last week while traveling and am finally making my way back. This is a great idea! Of course, you're always full of them. Very nice work.