Archive for April 22nd, 2012

Green publishing and book recycling: Steps in the right direction

For those of us with a concern for the planet, one of the best things to come from the move toward eBooks is the reduction of paper consumption, and therefore the wholesale harvesting of trees. For Earth Day, I thought we might examine some important numbers related to the ways the publishing industry affects the planet – and then look at some ideas for recycling your old books.

Trees that would be saved if the book industry shifted to a collective
average of 30 percent post-consumer (i.e., recycled) paper.

Publishers, printers, and mills that have developed strong
environmental policies, and/or signed the
Book Industry Treatise on Responsible Paper Use.


Pounds of greenhouse gas emissions prevented
by replacing one ton of virgin fiber with one ton
of post-consumer recycled fiber.


Rank of the pulp and paper industry on the list
of largest industrial greenhouse emitters.


Kinds of new book paper with environmental
attributes that have been developed recently.


Wood harvest committed to industrial use
(i.e., everything except fuel wood) that goes
into paper production.


Amount of solid landfill waste that is paper.


These numbers are a bit dated, as they come from a 2007 post from TreeHuggers.org titled “How to Go Green for Publishers; however, they still tell a shocking story about the effects of traditional print book publishing on our forests and land.

Please make a point of reading the full post for other fantastic information, like:

Top Green Book Publishing Tips

Green Book Publishing: Getting Techie

Where to Get Green Book Publishing Materials

Green Book Publishing: From the Archives

Further Reading on Green Book Publishing

In addition to being planet-conscious with your publishing, you can also help Mother Earth by recycling your old books. If you’ve amassed a large library and it’s time to downsize or you need to make room for new titles, here are a few ways you can recycle your old books.

  • Resell them at a local used book store.
  • Sell specialty books on eBay or Amazon – it may be too much effort and too little reward for run-of-the-mill titles.
  • Host a book swap party – or find a book exchange on Meetup.com.
  • Donate them to your local library.
  • Donate children’s books (toddler to age 18) to foster homes and programs for at-risk youth.
  • Post them on freecycle.com – since you’ve got to give something away before you accept any items.
  • Donate them to Goodwill or other second-hand store.
  • Donate them to a nursing home, hospice or hospital – even if they’re not large print, the staff and visitors would welcome new reading material.
  • Donate them to a prison library – especially textbooks and nonfiction educational books.
  • Leave a book on a train, in a waiting room, or some other public place – a potential found treasure. Tag your book with a unique code and use Bookcrossing.com to track who finds your book.

We have one home, so it’s up to each of us to do our part to protect her. If you have other ideas about green publishing or ways to recycle old books, please share them in the “Comments” section below.

Happy recycling!



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