Sell Used Books – It’s Green!


Whether you realize it or not, when you sell used books you’re doing something great for the environment.You are helping to reduce the number of trees that need to be cut down, while at the same time making sure that perfectly good books aren’t wasted.

Used Books mean Less Deforestation

Many of us don’t think about the environmental impact of paper production in general, and the publishing industry in particular. Experts estimate that the worldwide consumption of paper has increased by 400% over just the past 40 years and that 35% of all the trees that are cut down, nearly 4 billion trees, are used by the paper industry. In addition, the factories and mills which produce paper are among the worst producers of land, water and air pollution, according to the EPA.

Recycling vs. Reusing

Clearly the environmental impact of paper and book production should be reduced in any way possible. One way to limit the carbon footprint of books is to ensure they are dealt with in an environmentally friendly after reading them.

Recycling Books

Recycling books seems like it should be straightforward. Books are made of paper, paper is recyclable, end of story, right? Wrong. Unfortunately from the perspective of paper recyclers, it’s a little more complicated. The recycler wants paper and paper alone, but books contain glue, which can be seen as making the paper “contaminated” because it can cause problems when the paper is being broken down, and can ultimately make books unrecyclable. The hard covers of hardcover books can present a similar problem.

Reusing Books

Even when you can recycle books, it is actually wasteful, as strange and counterintuitive as that seems. Books are not what are known as “depletable” resources. In other words, reading a book doesn’t use it up. It’s not like a paper towel or a tissue which you use once and then have to dispose of. Every book has the potential to be read hundreds, even thousands of times. Throwing away, or even recycling a book that could be used and enjoyed so many more times is really a terrible waste. Any way to find that book a new home and get it into the hands of someone who would love to read it is a much better option. When you sell used books, you’ve done just that (while putting a little cash in your pocket at the same time).

Local vs. National

At the most basic level, there are two ways to sell used books. The first is to sell them locally, the way your grandparents did, down at the local used bookstore. Anyone can then get their hands on their book by going down to that store and buying that book (well, anyone who lives within about a 5 mile radius, anyway). The other way is to sell them online, allowing anyone in the country to be the next owner of your book. Technically, you can even sell your books internationally online, but shipping costs may make that option cost prohibitive.

You may think that selling is locally is more environmentally friendly, but let’s think about that for a minute. Let’s say that ten people have ten books each that they want to sell. If they sell them to their local bookstore, those ten people have to get in ten cars and drive to the bookstore, and then a hundred other people have to get in a hundred other cars to drive to the bookstore and buy the books.

On the other hand, if those ten people choose to sell used books online, the books would travel on planes and trucks that have established routes. Sure, there would be some carbon impact in transporting the books, but essentially they would be hitching a ride on vehicles that were going there anyway. Instead of each book having its own chauffer, they would travel together with a bunch of other packages. Basically, they would be carpooling.

You Can Help Save the World

When you sell used books, you are helping to save the planet. Every tree that doesn’t need to get cut down is important. Every book that gets another chance instead of being thrown away makes a difference. Your choices matter. Do the right thing. We only get one planet, and once we destroy it, it’s gone forever.