Sustainable Ways To Recycle Books, According To Literary Types

They say that over 640,000 tons of books (and that’s about 320 million paperback books) end up in landfill space each year!

Yet, with just a bit of thought, there are plenty of ways to recycle books that are super easy to do from using a local recycling center to making a little money by reselling them.

So, next time you finish a book or a few books, don’t throw them out! Use our list to recycle books instead.


Give Them To Your Local Library

Obviously, if your paperback books look like they’ve been savaged by a lion, the local library probably won’t be able to use them but if you want to donate books to a place; then local communities accept books with gratitude.

You can also take other forms of mixed paper products such as magazines, old phone books and newspapers to the library too, they sell them for recycling to find the purchase of other books.


Better World Books is a lovely organization that takes donated books and used books and sends them to other countries. They hold occasional book drives too.

The organization collects from a drop-off location or locations that you can find on their website.

They also sell some of the books to fund literacy initiatives worldwide. That’s a recycling process that we can really get behind!


Give Away Any Textbooks You Don’t Need To Students

Charity begins at home, of course, and if your old textbooks are useful to students nearby, then recycle books by giving them away directly.

However, if you find that your 10 your old books aren’t much use to local schools, then give them to the Bridge to Asia program which helps Chinese students and teachers get hold of textbook publishers’ work that they can’t normally get in China.


Check Out Your Online Recycling Directory

There are tons of useful online recycling directories that you can use to get rid of unwanted books. Just look up a green directory or use this one at Green Citizen.

This can be easier than using Better World Books and their equivalents because they’re guaranteed to have somewhere to donate books on your doorstep.


Trade Or Exchange Books (Including Mixed Paperbacks)

Get over to Amazon and look up their trade-in-program if you have hardcover books, picture books, etc. in good condition then you shouldn’t be throwing books away but getting some nice Amazon gift cards for them, instead.

Don’t bother sending old books in poor condition though, they’ll just be rejected. Some books should be recycled books rather than re-read.


Repurpose Your Old Books And Magazines

Instead of dumping old books in the household trash because you think they’re no longer even fit for thrift stores, you can hit up Instagram and Pinterest and look at cool ways to repurpose them.

We like the idea of making a bedside table from books, maybe the words will influence our dreams? You could try that or a coffee table or any other fun way of making something new from your old books.


The “Little Free Library” is a cool program that lets people swap their old books for other books by using a book-sharing box.

There are more than 30,000 of these across the United States and they’re easy to find on their website.


Offer Them To A Local Charity

The Salvation Army and many other charities will be delighted to collect as many books as you have even if you’ve got as many old novels and magazines as a doctor’s office waiting room.

For them, free books can be used in many different ways. They’ll be selling books, recycling books, and other paper products and they’ll have other great ideas to prevent anything from being wasted too.


Use Curbside Recycling Programs

If your books are thoroughly destroyed and no one will want them even as free books, then you can always use curbside recycling to get them out of your life.

Please note: you should tear the cover off hardcovers before you put them in the recycling bin.


Give Them To A Recycle Bookstore (California ONLY)

In California, they also have the Recycle Bookstore that loves gently used books and they use book sales to generate revenue for good causes.


Sell Your books

You can also sell your used books – we live Facebook marketplace for this as it’s free. But you could also use Amazon, eBay, a thrift store, etc. too.

If your bookshelves are at a full capacity then this can be a great way of tidying up at home and realizing a few extra bucks too!


Some Common Places To Send Your Old Books To

There are a bunch of other places that you can donate your books to:

  • Freecycle – this works like Craigslist but without any money changing hands, people are often very grateful for donations of books here
  • BookCrossing – a great site for a book swap, you get new books for giving your books a new life
  • The Boys and Girls Club – they don’t recycle textbooks and the like, but instead, they look for children’s books that are in a decent condition to make kid’s libraries with
  • Books Through Bars – prisoners don’t get much in the way of entertainment and this charitable organization creates libraries in jails to help them get further information in their quest for an honest life

What To Do To Prepare Book Donations

Before you donate books, just check the pages are all in decent condition and if they’re not it’s better to recycle them rather than donate them.

Other than that you should be fine to give your books to any organization or individual that wants them.


Final Thoughts On Recycling Books

You can help prevent America’s landfills from overflowing by creating new libraries and learning to recycle books rather than dumping them in the trash.

Of course, if you’re looking for an idea of what books to read next, may we recommend these titles? The Gaia Hypothesis, Symbiotic Planet and A Sand County Almanac?

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