Many municipal recycling programs do not accept books, but numerous donation or exchange programs can give old books an extended life.
One of the things I really enjoy when I have some spare time is reading. Over the years, my home has become the place where many friends and family members have dropped off their unwanted books because they know I’ll read them. Because I have limited space, I have become somewhat of an expert on recycling used books.
Although they are made from paper, most municipal recycling programs do not accept books because they are difficult to recycle due to the glue used to bind them. It’s the spines of hardcover books that contain a lot of adhesive and cannot be recycled. If your used book is damaged and not reusable, the pages inside most books can be recycled as a mixed waste paper product as long as your local recycling program accepts this kind of paper. If they do, just remove and discard the cover and the spine prior to placing the paper in your mixed waste paper bin.
Here are some things you could do with your usable unwanted books:
- Donate to charities, public libraries or local schools. They can utilize your used books themselves or sell them for fundraising.
- Check out BookMooch, which is an online community for exchanging used books. This site allows you to give away books you no longer need in exchange for books you really want. There is no cost to join or use their site; your only cost is mailing your books to others.
- Paperback Swap is another site that lets you swap not only paperbacks, but also hardcover books, textbooks and more.
- Donate to a local hospital, hospice or assisted living center, where your books can provide some fun and entertainment for others.
The simple act of reusing a book can save energy, water, landfill space and the use of virgin materials. Be aware of your impact on the environment when you put down that novel and reach for the next new thing.