library

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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Yes, you!

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I am constantly amazed at the wealth of information we have at our fingertips today. The internet makes research as simple as clicking. It’s not like in my childhood when you immediately went to the World Book Encyclopedia or the Encyclopedia Britannica to do research for a school project. If you needed additional information, you went to the local library. Our resources were miniscule compared to the seemingly unlimited sources we have today. Today you can even contact experts via email and read about their research.

With all this information, it seems like we should be able to solve many of our problems in a snap. Say there’s an environmental problem that concerns you. Without leaving your home or library you can access the U.S. Geological Survey map for that area, aerial photos, zoning information, plant lists, property owners, businesses, and environmental data like water and air quality and whether there are any Superfund sites nearby. The wonderful thing is that you don’t need to have a Ph.D. or be a top level scientist working for a big company to help solve problems. You can be you. You can make a difference in your local community! And, you may be able to help solve a national problem.

Many times problem solvers are people who put the pieces of the puzzle together in a new way. They apply new approaches. They see things others don’t. They make new connections. So be creative! You can make a difference. You are our future.

Nancy Grundahl has worked for the Philadelphia office of EPA since the mid-80’s. Nancy believes in looking at environmental problems in a holistic, multi-media way and is a strong advocate of preventing pollution instead of dealing with it after it has been created. Nancy is currently the Web Content Coordinator for the Mid-Atlantic Region.

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.