Getting old books off your hands isn’t always as easy as you may think. Unfortunately, books can’t just be tossed in with your regular paper recycling, as they often contain other components such as binding glue that cannot be recycled. However, if you find yourself stuck with shelves of books that you just need to get rid of, there are plenty of sustainable ways to do this.
As mentioned above, books often can’t be recycled; but they can be repurposed. Repurposing books is a great way to prevent them from adding to the ever-increasing piles of junk in landfills and instead gives them a whole new lease of life. In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the different ways you can repurpose your old books and help to save the planet in the process. Let’s jump in!
4 Ways To Recycle and Repurpose Old Books
Being more cautious and diligent about how to deal with unwanted books, like with many of our belongings, helps to reduce waste and minimize what remains stuck in landfills. So that less of our old books end up in the garbage, we’ve created a list of alternate ways to repurpose, sell or donate older books that you want to get off your hands. We’ve also included some advice on how to recycle books if they’re no longer used and don’t have a demand for purchase or donation.
Donating used books is an excellent alternative to reselling them. If you only have a handful of old books to donate or choose not to bother with the inconvenience of resale, start donating them in your town or to a larger organization that provides books to disadvantaged regions around the world.
When donating secondhand books, take the quality and usefulness of the books into consideration. Books that are slightly outdated or in bad condition will be no more beneficial to the receiver than they were to you. This will essentially just pass on the burden of disposing of the books to another person, which isn’t helpful.
As a basic guideline, if you wouldn’t buy or gift the books to a friend because of their quality, they might not be suitable for donation. Many books that are unclean, moldy, or broken, have broken covers or sheets, or have a lot of study notes or stains in them will be useless to the receiver of the donation.
Some ideas of where to donate used books include;
- Local libraries
- Retirement homes
- Daycare centers
- Literacy programs
- Thrift stores
Before making a fuss out of donating your books, see if one of your friends and family members is interested in any of them. Avoid burdening them with your textbooks and novels if they really do not need them, but it’s a quiet and easy method for them to find new homes if they do.
Think about your family and friends’ different interests and assess whether they align with any books in your collection, if so, this could be a welcome gift that they’d be pleased to own. Also, think about what books you’ve noticed on the bookshelves in your friends’ houses and see if you have any recommendations for them based on the books that you own, and give them away!
Begin by selling old books in your neighborhood if you really want to dispose of your books in the most environmentally friendly manner possible. Call a local used bookstore in your area to find out what they take and how they compensate. Explore both individual and corporate secondhand bookstores, such as Half Price Books. Either could be excellent possibilities for reselling some of your favorite used books.
Contemporary books in excellent condition that are desirable for reselling are most likely to be accepted by bookstores. This makes perfect sense since they need people eager to acquire your old books if they purchase them from you. Nevertheless, unless you ask, you will never learn what the bookshop requires. It’s worth a gamble to take in your old books and find out what they’re willing to take off your hands.
Host a Book Swap
Neighborhood swaps and local community activities are enjoyable ways to meet your neighbors and develop stronger bonds with others in the community. You can do this by creating a group on Facebook or another social media platform, or you can go all-out and send paper invitations to your neighbors.
You can choose to host it from the warm comfort of your home, or you can set up a small stall outside in your yard (if the weather where you live permits it). By the end of the evening, your friends and neighbors will walk away with lots of exciting books and you will have your old reads off your hands for good – it’s a win-win!
Is there a market for old books?
Yes! Absolutely. Books can be expensive, and there are many people who only shop for used books exclusively as a way to save money. There are numerous ways to recycle outdated books that you no longer want to read. Old book shops and secondhand stores remain popular, particularly among book enthusiasts. For new bookstores, online stores such as eBay and Facebook Marketplace are ideal. Also, there are organizations, such as Better World Books, that welcome books in excellent condition for selling online. The possibilities are endless!
Several shopping center parking spaces have these businesses’ drop-off containers. You can also inquire with your local public library about accepting used books, which can be resold to businesses like the ones indicated above or sold at book sales to earn funds for library programs.
Can I recycle wet books?
No. Unfortunately, wet books and magazines cannot be recycled, regardless of whether they’re new or used. This is because water is not good for the different components involved in the recycling process. Water manipulates the fibrous paper in a way that makes it difficult to recycle. Also, many paper mills aren’t sturdy enough to tolerate the hefty weight of sodden paper and books.