Recycling Your Old Books

More old books... [Photo by guldfisken] (CC BY-SA 3.0)

People who know me well understand that I love books with a passion. It’s not so much the book itself, but it’s the stories and information contained in them that make me feel like they are gems of treasure!

When books are mixed with social enterprise – a business with a social purpose, then I get very excited!

A Social Enterprise for Book Lovers

While there are a number of various book-based social enterprises that have made it big like BetterWorldBooks.com, there are also other social enterprises that centralize on books as their main product or service.

Here are some examples:

#1. Recycling Books in Illinois

A nonprofit book recycling center in DuPage County, Illinois was built in 1988 by a large team of people who shared a concern for the environment.

However, after the facility was complete they quickly realized the need for education, because the local community seemed largely unconcerned about recycling. It was not a lack of concern for the environment and intensifying landfill requirements that was the root of the problem, bur rather a lack of knowledge about environmental issues. What started as a small nonprofit facility to educate the local community quickly grew in to an organization that would help thousands worldwide.

SCARCE now operates multiple programs both in the US and abroad. When teachers began telling the organization that books were being thrown into landfills, SCARCE took action with a special book rescue program to give them to children in need. Hundreds of children around the world have received free books through schools, orphanages, hospitals, confined youth centers and libraries thanks to SCARCE.

#2. Recycling Made Simple

In Connecticut, the concept of single-stream recycling is making it easier for residents to recycle more items then before by providing a much easier and simplified way to recycle.

Previously, not everything could be recycled in the area, such as old telephone books, paperback books and certain types of plastics. Now less of this material will be going to waste. The federal government had previously blocked the innovation of single-stream recycling through its control of a regional recycling center that operated a dual-stream system, where everything must be separated.

Single-stream recycling refers to a system in which all paper fibers and containers are mixed together in a collection truck, instead of being sorted into separate commodities (newspaper, cardboard, plastic, glass, etc.) by the resident and handled separately throughout the collection process. The mixed materials are later separated for reuse at a materials recovery facility.

The feds didn’t want to make investments or changes while overseeing the facility, but the breakdown of old equipment finally forced open the door to change. They sold the business to a private owner in March, who agreed to implement single-stream recycling.

Recycle Your Old Books

The one thing in common about these social impact businesses and organizations is that they focus on recycling books. Books can take up alot of space, especially in landfills – and often they can be better served for being reused so that someone else can read them, particularly in some developing countries where there is often a lack of access to a good read.

If you’re passionate about books and reading, like I am, do consider recycling your old books – including your used literature & fiction books and non-fiction ones too!