Being an avid reader comes with an unexpected environmental impact. It is something that you maybe don’t think about when you’re looking for the next great read, but the amount of materials and energy that are used in the production of our books is significant. The book industry has a massive impact on the environment. However, bookworms don’t have to give up their reading habits just yet…rather there are small steps and adjustments that readers can make to become more eco-conscious.
Public Library. If you are someone who enjoys reading from a physical copy rather than on a screen, take advantage of your public library. Borrowing books from the library reduces the number of new books you purchase and helps you save money. If you are an avid reader, using the library is extremely advantageous since you have the ability to borrow as many books as you’d like without worrying about the price. It also helps to keep your personal space neat and organized, not cluttered with books that you’ve read once and won’t read again. It also helps you to explore genres and books that maybe you wouldn’t pick up because of the price and guilt of not enjoying or finishing the book. The Lethbridge Public Library offers a diverse collection of books, eBooks, and DVDs. It is also now fine free, so you don’t even have to worry about late fees on that one book that you kept for way too long. With a Lethbridge Public Library card, you can also use the Libby app, which allows you to borrow eBooks and audiobooks from their library for free and download them onto your cell phone or tablet.
Book Exchanges or Little Libraries. Like the Public Library, if you enjoy reading the physical copy, think about hosting a book exchange amongst your friends, family, colleagues or even your neighbourhood. It is a good way to be introduced to new books and genres that you might not have picked out for yourself. It is also a fun way to connect with friends, family, colleagues and neighbours. An added bonus is that there is always a possibility to be able to put your favourite book back into your collection once the borrower is done. Little Libraries can function as a casual and anonymous book exchange with your neighbours. Plus they make cute little additions to the neighbourhood. Click here to see an interactive map showing the locations of little libraries across Southern Alberta.
eBooks and Audiobooks. To determine whether or not eBooks are the most eco-friendly way for you to read, depends on the type of reader you are. If you are a casual reader, buying paper books will most likely limit your carbon footprint. However, if you are a heavy reader, eBooks will help to limit your carbon footprint. eBooks and audiobooks seem to negate certain environmental impacts such as: cutting down trees for paper, the use of chemicals to enhance paper quality, glues and inks, the process of printing and then shipping the books to stores or straight to your home, and your drive to the store to pick up the book. However, eBooks and audiobooks do require energy, think of charging, and the technology to be able to access them. Based on what device you use to read eBooks could mean different impacts on the environment. The process of making technology is intensive and requires a lot of labour. eReaders have a significantly shorter lifespan than paper books, roughly three years, and are harder to dispose of properly. Therefore, it is most beneficial to use the device that you already own, such as a cell phone or tablet, rather than buying new. There are numerous apps available on both iOS and Android for eBooks and audiobooks. Audiobooks have the added benefit of allowing you to “multitask.” They are great for road trips or when you’re doing chores around the house. For more information on the benefits of eBooks versus paper click here.
Used Books via Local Used Bookstores or Thrift Stores. Local used bookstores and thrift stores are great places to find new-to-you books that you’ve been meaning to read. Often these types of stores have large selections and a huge variety of genres. The hunt for your next favourite book is an experience in itself. Purchasing used books from local used bookstores also helps to support your local community. Used books are often significantly cheaper and help reduce the carbon footprint of books, as they continue to be reused and avoid the landfill. These are also great places to donate those books that have begun to take valuable real estate on your bookshelf. In Lethbridge, Echo Books and Big John Books are two great local used bookstores.
Local Independent Bookstores. Choose a locally owned, independent bookstore when buying new books. By shopping locally, you are supporting a local business over a big chain. One benefit of independent bookstores is that they often don’t overstock their shelves, therefore they are reducing the amount of books returned to publishers to be destroyed (a waste of labour and resources). In Lethbridge, check out Analog Books.
At the end of the day, borrowing books from the library, friends, family, colleagues or neighbours is a great way to continue reading physical copies of books. If you are an avid reader, eBooks can be a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and help keep your life a little less cluttered. For very casual readers, feel free to grab that paper book every couple of months.