How to Decrease Your Bookish Carbon Footprint

Posted by Danielle Mohlman

Let's face it. Even the most eco-conscious bookworm is sure to feel a tinge of guilt as they set out to devour the latest paperback. So, today we’re examining our reading habits – and making small adjustments that can make a big impact.


Take advantage of your local library

It seems like an obvious first step, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t use the library because they’re turned off by due dates or haven’t had luck with finding titles at their local branch. But did you know you can request any book in your county’s library catalogue? It’s true! They’ll even ship it to your nearest branch for pick up. How’s that for customer service? And if the book you’re looking for isn’t yet in your county library system, you can request for the library to order that book. (Yes, really!) You’ll not only be the first one to receive the book when it’s purchased – guaranteeing that new book smell – you’ll also be responsible for sharing that title with your neighbors across the county! So, go ahead and sign up for that library card. And don’t forget to tell your librarian that we sent you.


Go paperless

We read so much on our devices these days. (Like this blog post, right now!) Why not make the switch to paperless and read e-books? Not only will you be doing your part to save the planet, you’ll also never leave the house without something to read. (Smart phones, anyone?) If you love that feeling of owning literature, iBooks, Kindle, and Google Play Books are three must-download apps to try out. If you’re a diehard library fan who wants to give digital a try, Libby is the app for you. Created by OverDrive as a way to seamlessly share libraries’ digital collections, Libby is the perfect (budget friendly) way to try out your new e-reader persona.


Live that secondhand life

Next time you have the itch to buy a new book, scope out the used bookstores in your neighborhood. Finding the perfect match can take a little more time than the convenience of online shopping, but you’re more likely to stumble upon an under the radar gem. And while you’re there, ask the bookseller if they buy used books for cash or store credit – because chances are, you have a book or two or ten that you know you won’t read again. So why not give those dusty tomes a second life in a new home? If you don’t have any local used bookstores, consider taking your business to Powell’s Books, a Portland-based independent bookstore that prides itself on the best condition used books in the biz. You can sell your books online (Powell’s pays for shipping!) and once you have that sweet sweet store credit in hand, turn it into amazing new-to-you novels. It’s win-win!


Give some local love

If you still really really want to buy brand new books for your home library, we’re in favor of it! We just ask that you seek out a local independent bookstore before you click that hypnotizing “Add to Cart.” Buying locally significantly decreases the carbon footprint incurred by shipping from Amazon or Barnes and Noble’s warehouse. Think about it: those books need to get themselves on a plane, and then they’re loaded into a truck, and then they’re delivered to your door. Convenient? Yes. But eco-conscious it is not. So, head over to your local independent bookstore. You’re not only supporting small business owners, you’re showing Mother Earth some love. Bonus points if you can take public transportation there. Bonus bonus points for walking!