I love books. Whenever I move my home–and I’ve done that a lot–I don’t feel quite settled until I can see my books on the bookshelves. Recently, I’ve organized some books by color, having been inspired by seeing four entire bookcases arranged by color at a friends’ home.
I often want to buy books, especially the ones with beautiful covers, and I hate the idea of not keeping them. But in an effort to limit the clutter and lower my consumption, for Everyday Sustainable book reading I do the following:
- Use the PUBLIC LIBRARY. It’s free. It’s convenient–browse, reserve, renew online; three branches within one mile of my home. It’s more sustainable–shared resources, less clutter at home and in landfill.
- SHARE BOOKS. I’ll give or lend books to friends. And receive or borrow them from friends.
- SWAP BOOKS. I’ve been using Bookmooch, one of the online book trading sites to both give and get books. You list your books and then when someone asks you to send one, you have to pack it up and go mail it at the post office. At media mail rate, it’s about $2.50. When there’s a book you want, you send a request and they’ll send it to you. There’s a whole point system, but basically, what it “costs” you is the shipping cost. So yes, the shipping has some carbon impact with the packing material and transportation, but I think it has to be less than getting a package from Amazon.
- USED BOOKSTORES. Again, great for giving and receiving. Most towns have their famous used book store. In San Francisco, it’s the maze-like Green Apple Books, but it’s about four miles away, so I usually check my local store first: Russian Hill Bookstore.
- E-book readers are definitely the way to go in terms of reducing paper consumption and waste, though there is the issue of batteries. However, I’ve tried a Sony Reader, and it just doesn’t have the book experience. But that’s probably because I’m not used to it. After using it for a while, I bet an e-book reading experience will have its own rewards. But for now, I’m sticking with the paper; just trying to minimize the impact.
- Books on tape. I’ve never been into these. I prefer to read books, rather than hear them being read. I have tried them while driving, but I don’t like the spacing out feeling I get. For me, it feels unsafe to Drive While Being Read To. I assume most books are now on CD, which brings up the question of how to dispose of them in a low impact way.