Books

Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle with Little Free Libraries

By Ellie Kanipe

With America Recycles Day around the corner on November 15th, we’re sharing how communities are reducing waste and conserving resources. Little Free Libraries are one way my community is making a difference – not only by helping the environment by keeping books out of landfills, but by connecting neighbors and building an even greater sense of community.

Earlier this fall, my husband and I attended a 6-month anniversary celebration of a Little Free Library in our Del Ray, VA neighborhood outside of Washington, DC. The Little Free Library of Windsor and Dewitt had festive decorations and yummy treats; crafts for kids; a garden tour where we saw lots of monarch caterpillars; and, of course, books, books, and more books! It was delightful – we gave a book, left with a few books, met new neighbors, and learned about other cool green happenings in our community, like an Upcycle Creative Reuse Center.

Del Ray has three Little Free Libraries and my husband and I love them! Not only do they foster community by bringing people together to share their love of reading, they provide the service of reusing/recycling books. Here’s how it works:

  • The library itself is simply a small, weather-proof container that can hold books.
  • Stewards, often with community support, build or purchase a library and put it in their yard (check out some examples here).
  • The library stewards make it official by becoming a member of the Little Free Library global network.
  • The stewards start the process by putting their own used books in the library.
  • People in the community stop by and leave a book and/or take a book.

Healthier-NeighborhoodsELLE#

What are you and your community doing to reduce, reuse, and recycle? Does your community have a Little Free Library, or other sharing libraries for things like tools and seeds? On Wednesday, November 13 at 12:30 p.m. EST, join a conversation on Twitter about what you and your community are doing. You can participate by following @ EPAlive and the #AskEPA hashtag on Twitter. If you don’t use Twitter, you can still watch the discussion at @EPAlive and #AskEPA. We look forward to chatting with you!

About the author: Ellie Kanipe lives in Del Ray, Virginia, and works for the Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery on communications. She loves her community in Del Ray – the people, its walkability, and the neighborhood’s frozen custard shop.

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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Recycling within Blogs – A Fall Reading List

By Jeffery Robichaud

At EPA we are big on recycling.  So I thought from time to time I might recycle a couple of posts I have made in the past on EPA’s original Greenversations blog.  So I present to you my Spring…I mean Fall Reading List.   And remember reuse (as in loaning a book to a friend or checking one out from the library) is even better than recycling.

If you have kids like my wife and me, Fall Break is probably coming up. However, if you are lucky enough to be heading somewhere warm with a hammock, consider tossing these tomes into your tote.

COD – Sorry video gamers, this doesn’t stand for “Call of Duty”, rather Cod as in the book’s subtitle, A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World. I was born on the seacoast of New Hampshire and remember visiting the Isles of Shoals, so named because in the 1600’s monster schools of cod frequented the islands churning up so much water that the entire area looked like waves were breaking on shallow rocks. How can you pass up a book about history, economics, science, and VIKINGS. Long before Deadliest Catch and Lobster Wars there was Cod Wars. I don’t eat fish, but as an extra bonus there are recipes for Cod-lovers.

Where Underpants Come From – Think Bill Bryson meets Milton Friedman. I always enjoy chuckling while I’m learning something, and this book weaves (poor pun intended) a tale of the global economy from a pair of underpants back through the supply chain to China.

Live from Cape Canaveral: Covering the Space Race, from Sputnik to Today –This might not be the most in-depth history of the space program, but it was written by the only correspondent who has covered every manned space mission and is an extremely quick read.   It is easy to forget that just 50 years ago, when John Glenn circled the Earth, we still had no idea what it looked like. Thanks to NASA our first full picture of earth was one for the ages.

Bartholomew and the Oobleck – No it is not the Lorax. It is not even my favorite, the 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins. But if you pick up this lesser known Seuss work for your kids, you can also be a science hero and kill a couple more hours of Spring Break by making your own non-newtonian fluid based on the story.

Do you have any recommendations from around the globe that you would like to share?  You know you do!  Post a couple in the comment section.

About the Author: Jeffery Robichaud is a second generation EPA scientist who has worked for the Agency since 1998. He currently serves as Deputy Director of EPA Region 7′s Environmental Services Division.  He is looking for some good books to put on his Holiday Wish List.

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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Greening Your Way Into Reading

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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Question of the Week: What books have you read that influenced your thinking about the environment?

Henry David Thoreau, Rachel Carson, Aldo Leopold – many authors have inspired us to think deeply about protecting the environment. Share which books you’ve read.

What books have you read that influenced your thinking about the environment?

Each week we ask a question related to the environment. Please let us know your thoughts as comments. Feel free to respond to earlier comments or post new ideas. Previous questions.

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.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Fall Reading List

About the author: Jeffery Robichaud is a second generation scientist with EPA who started in 1998. He serves as Chief of the Environmental Assessment and Monitoring Branch in Kansas City.

I’ll admit it; I am a voracious reader of non-fiction. Mostly I’m a fan of history but I do find time to fit in some reading that relates in some way shape or form to my profession. Instead of frittering more time away on the internet consider one of my favorite tomes from the past summer. Also think about checking them out from your local library…just another way to reduce, reuse, and recycle.

American Green: The Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Lawn – A witty take on everything related to Americans’ manic approach to that patch of green outside our front door. Required reading for anyone who mows in shorts and black dress socks like I do.

Rubbish: The Archeology of Garbage – Ever wonder what happens to garbage once it goes into a landfill? Join teams from the University of Arizona as they don their Indiana Jones Cap and comb through odoriferous treasure troves. This book made me happy that we have a shredder.

The Prize – If you are a history buff, this is a fascinating read (it won a Pulitzer!). At well over 900 pages, it chronicles the history of our most prolific hydrocarbon from the original wildcatter well, through Spindletop, Ida Tarbell, Standard Oil, and World War II.

The Magic School Bus Gets Cleaned Up – Okay, a bit of a shameless propaganda for diesel retrofits from EPA, but hey I really did read this to my sons a couple times. And this title gets bonus points since it is available for FREE from EPA.

Why not share your Greenversations-related reading list in a comment below. I am always on the lookout for a good book to read.

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.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.