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Greening Your Way Into Reading

2010 June 10

I am an avid reader. For me, buying books and exchanging them with friends has always been the norm. However in the last few years, I have been trying to green my way into reading. According to the Green Press Initiative, approximately 30 million trees are used in the production of books sold in the United States. The raw materials used in book production can have devastating effects on the environment. While the book industry is implementing measures, such as the use of recycled paper, to minimize the impact on our natural resources, one wonders how such a good habit can be made greener. Books can be downloaded from the computer and even loaded on to our phones and there are e-readers that help readers find a good book with the touch of a button.

In spite of these electronic options, however, I prefer to venture into the world of reading the traditional way—by actually holding a book in my hands. I truly enjoy the touch, feel, and smell of the actual book. There are greener options for reading the old-fashion way. Besides borrowing books from the library, I also swap with friends. Another great way to reduce my carbon footprint has been the Salvation Army store where I can find recent titles as well as paperbacks for less than $3.00 and the book swap section at the library. In our Caribbean Environmental Protection Division office we keep a large bin by the reception desk where all EPA readers drop off books of all genres. When the books have been read by most of the participants they are taken to the library for book swapping, thus ensuring that new titles keep making their way into our office. You can pursue another green option by visiting book swapping websites. On these sites, you get points for every title you submit and then you can use those credits to get additional books. One small caveat is that the exchange of books still needs to take place via the mail.

If you are a traditional reader like me who loves book shops and libraries, make sure that when picking up your next read you consider these options.

About the author: Brenda Reyes Tomassini joined EPA in 2002. She is a public affairs specialist in the San Juan, Puerto Rico office and also handles community relations for the Caribbean Environmental Protection Division.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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9 Responses leave one →
  1. Don Bain permalink
    June 10, 2010

    I too am a fan of the book in “book” form, as explained in my animated short

    Just this morning, my librarian reported that on average, every item in the library’s collection is going out 19 times. This is great utilization of the resource and minimizes the book’s carbon impact over a population of readers.

  2. Jackie permalink
    June 10, 2010

    I’m with you, I love the real books! And getting them from thrift stores, garage sales and libraries is the way to go! Good article.

  3. Gary N permalink
    June 10, 2010

    While real books are great, I actually like ebooks better, and keep my whole library on my Kindle. Reading ebooks not only saves in paper, but also cuts back greatly on my visits to book stores, so I burn less gasoline and pollute the air less. Ebooks also are not a physical item that must be shipped from a printing plant to a book store. The carbon footprint reduction seen from ebook use is far more than that associated with the paper.

  4. Lina-EPA permalink*
    June 10, 2010

    I’m still part of the traditional school, but don’t deny that ebooks have environmental advantages. There’s still something special about getting lost in the actual pages of a book and visiting distant places…..Who knows, it might just be a matter of time for me to get hooked on a Kindle (or some similar electronic tool) as I’m connected to my blackberry.

    Question–are they fragile? Would hate to loose all my library if i were to accidentally drop the contraption.

  5. Linda permalink
    June 11, 2010

    My husband and I are both fans of the printed page and are voracious readers. We make use of the local used book stores and also share books freely with friends. If a book turns out not to be a “keeper”, we either take it to the used book store for exchange or donate it to the local thrift shop so others have access to affordable books that are still nearly new.

  6. Brenda-EPA permalink
    June 11, 2010

    Thank you for all your comments. They are very good feedback!

  7. Michael E. Bailey permalink
    June 12, 2010

    I work as a Library Page in my city’s library, and we have been breaking all our old records as far as items being checked out and being brought back in on a regular basis. A couple of weeks ago we broke our previous record set in March. And our Summer Reading Program is just getting ready to start on June 25 and will go through July. It is our busiest period traditionally. WE do have the ebooks that you can download onto your computer at home and they are pretty popular. I don’t know if we have book swapping with major corporate or public offices, but I do know that one of our city’s bookstores does have a program where the bookstore makes large book donations to the library. And the library bookstore is on ebay and sells books across the United States and Foreign countries. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

  8. Mike permalink
    June 13, 2010

    You should look up the book Cradle to Cradle. It’s an amazing book with many great ideas that can help us save the environment. The book itself is made out of a plastic polymer from plants. It is a bit heavier than paper books but the pages are waterproof and it is my understanding that they can be recycled very easily.

  9. Chris S permalink
    June 18, 2010

    for those of us who love books, don’t overlook used book stores and book swapping clubs.

    paperbackswap is an online swapping club – you list your books and mail to a requestor earning credit to then request a book from someone else. they now have cd and dvd offshoots, as well.

    there may other online outlets, but I haven’t looked that deeply.

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