Three Ways to be Greener with your Book Addiction

I am a book addict. I have so many books, and I’m always reading. I also want to do everything in my power to reduce my negative impact on the environment. Books are essentially blocks of paper, and that paper has to come from somewhere. Plus, if you shop online, there’s the carbon footprint of delivery and the packaging to consider. It’s not on the individual to fix everything that’s hurting the environment. Still, there are some small steps that book lovers can take to help in whatever way they can. Not only that, but some of these tips can help save money, too.


1: Choose e-books over digital books

E-books are a little bit controversial. I can’t even remember how many times I’ve heard that people prefer physical books over e-books. I don’t have a preference between the two, if I’m being completely honest. I like both for different reasons. However, I can’t deny that e-books don’t use any paper or ink in their production. Nor do they need a physical delivery, which uses fossil fuels. E-books also get to you much faster, which is great when you simply have to read your book. NOW.

Not only that, but e-books can be great for people with disabilities. On my e-reader, I can make the font bigger or smaller at will. I can even switch to a different font if the one I have is difficult to read. One of the fonts I have access to is designed for readers with dyslexia. One of my biggest pet peeves is a difficult to read font, and I have seen some terrible examples. Digital books allow people to personalize their reading experience. 

With that in mind, there are upfront costs that could make reading with e-books difficult. To read an e-book, one needs a computer, smartphone, tablet, or dedicated e-reader. It can be difficult for some people to make that initial investment, even if e-books are cheaper in the long run. As technology permeates our culture, more and more people will have access to e-books. This could lead to fewer resources needed in manufacturing while still promoting literacy.


2: Buy your physical books secondhand

If the book you’re after is a couple of years old, you might be able to find one that someone else has loved. Thrift stores, friends of the library sales, and some online sites are great sources of used books. Buying used books can be much less expensive than a new copy, if the book isn’t rare or antique. Some bookstores only sell used books, and you can stretch your book budget even farther there.  

If you’re after a brand-new release, it’s not that likely that you’ll find it secondhand. Also, if your interests are on the niche side, then you might have to look around a while before you find what you want. I would argue that it’s not that great of an idea to walk into a used bookstore with a specific book in mind. You’re more likely to find something you didn’t know you wanted. Used book shopping can be fun and a great way to find a new favorite book. However, you’re at the mercy of what you can find in the moment, and you’re never sure what you’re going to get. 


3: Borrow instead of buying. 

Arthur was right, having fun isn’t hard if you have a library card. If you prefer physical books, checking out from a library allows many people to share one book. That means that the printer needs fewer resources to meet demand. If you still prefer e-books or audiobooks, a service like Libby can let you check e-books out from the library. That has all the benefits of digital books, plus they’re also free to borrow. 

Other ways to borrow books are to see if anybody you know already has the book and see if you can borrow it. Make sure to return the favor and let them borrow your books, though. And get it back to them in a timely manner. If you and a friend want the same book that neither of you has, consider splitting the price of it between you. It reduces the price of the book for each person and also cuts the resources used in half. It’s not as reliable as your local library, but it’s sure fun. 

Reading is a lovely lifestyle and hobby, but it doesn’t need to take a toll on the environment. There are steps that every reader can take to help reduce the impact that they have on the environment. 

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