IT’S OKAY TO RECYCLE UNWANTED BOOKS

The great Marie Kondo War on Books seems to be simmering down. While some book lovers have moved all their books into a steel and concrete safe room just in case Marie Kondo kicks down their door to seize their most beloved books from their hands and throw them into her flaming wood chipper, many more people agree with herexceedingly gentle actual approach.

Thousands of people now have boxes of books that have served their purpose or were never wanted in the first place and are wondering what’s next. While Rioter Abby has some great ideas for what to do with those books, you may find you want them out of your house ASAP. The best and fastest way to do this is to donate them. I’m an avid reader, an author, and a library employee, so I say this from the bottom of my bibliophile heart:

Some books don’t deserve to be donated.

I chatted with the manager of my library’s used bookstore to find out what kinds of donations are more a burden than a gift. Our books store is sizable and moves quite a bit of inventory, but there are still books they can’t sell. Keep in mind that these items will change depending on the organizations needs and resources, so check with your intended beneficiary before proceeding.

Obsolete nonfiction books are the biggest culprit. This includes guides for software no longer in use, cookbooks relying on old technology (think 1970s microwave cookbooks), out-of-date information, disproved theories, out-of-use textbooks, and encyclopedias.

Books that are damaged in any way: water stains, mold, tears, or marks on the pages. If there is any chance your books might have bed bugs, please don’t bring those near the library — those little creatures can infect everything else in the building! Books with strong smells, like those kept in the house with a cigarette smoker or smelly animals, will be disposed of before they can transfer their odor to nearby books.

Fiction books that everyone has too many of. These books are a victim of their own popularity.

Our bookstore manager did share with me one type of book that she can always sell, no matter its condition. Classic books on school reading lists get snapped up every semester when the hold list gets too long.

If you’ve tried a couple places and no one will take your books, what can you do? Don’t drop them at your library and run, hoping no one will notice. Library workers and volunteers are already over-tasked and under-funded, so please don’t add to the burden. All we can do is recycle or trash it, so you’re simply transferring that responsibility to us. While we’re on the topic, don’t get nasty with them when they say they can’t accept your donation. It’s nothing personal, we promise.

It’s okay to recycle truly unwanted books.

I know it’s painful. If it helps, “each ton of paper recycled saves 3 cubic yards of landfill space, 380 gallons of oil and 17 trees, not to mention 4,000 kilowatts of energy and 7,000 gallons of water.” (source) Your recycled books could become new books or the box that delivers your new books!

To bring it back to Marie Kondo, one of her methods from The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up had a profound impact on my ability to remove unwanted objects from my life. When I first read that she wanted me to thank items for their time and service, I thought that was a little too wacky for my tastes. I’m pretty sure I literally rolled my eyes. But then I tried it. It’s amazing how much guilt and shame that simple, silly act assuaged for me. Try it!

Make sure to look up your local recycling policies. With their binding and glue, books are mixed materials so the recycling process is different. You may not be able to toss them in with other paper recyclables, but you might be able to drop them off at a local recycling center instead. Paperbacks can be recycled as-is, but hardcovers must be removed before being sent to recycling. Books with moldy pages cannot be recycled, but must be tossed in the trash before they can spread their mold to other books.

If a book cannot be reused or given new life in some other way, it’s perfectly okay to recycle it.

By , February 

10 CLIMATE CHANGE BOOKS TO HELP YOU UNDERSTAND OUR ENVIRONMENT

In case you haven’t heard, a climate disaster is looming. The effects of climate change—like rising seas and intensifying weather patterns—are already here. Even though the worst is yet to come, there are still things that we can do to fight for our planet. One thing you can do right now is to educate yourself by reading climate change books.

10 Climate Change Books to Help You Understand Our Environment

CLIMATE CHANGE BOOKS ABOUT SCIENCE

HOT, HUNGRY PLANET: THE FIGHT TO STOP A GLOBAL FOOD CRISIS IN THE FACE OF CLIMATE CHANGE BY LISA PALMER

By the year 2050, Earth’s population will be closing in on 10 billion people. That’s a lot of mouths to feed. Journalist Lisa Palmer’s book Hot Hungry Planet digs into the possibilities of famine and food scarcity and the innovations that might save us all from hunger.

sixth-extinction-coverTHE SIXTH EXTINCTION: AN UNNATURAL HISTORY BY ELIZABETH KOLBERT

What will the future look like? The past may have a clue. Over the ages of our planet’s history, there have been five mass extinction events, one of which all but wiped out the dinosaurs. In the Anthropocene period, the next casualty may be us. In The Sixth Extinction, Elizabeth Kolbert takes a closer look at the past to tell us more about our future.

 

CLIMATE CHANGE BOOKS ABOUT HEALTH

FEVERED: WHY A HOTTER PLANET WILL HURT OUR HEALTH—AND HOW WE CAN SAVE OURSELVES BY LINDA MARSA

We’re getting more used seeing images of stranded polar bears and hearing about our dwindling bee population, but most reporting on climate change leaves out what it can do to our own health. Linda Marsa’s Fevered delves into the increasing rate of illnesses associated with global warming, like asthma, allergies, and mosquito-borne diseases, just to name a few.

THE GREAT DERANGEMENT: CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE UNTHINKABLE BY AMITAV GHOSH

The past few generations have taken advantage of the planet, polluting the oceans, ravaging the land, and filling our skies with smoke. What were we thinking? In The Great Derangement, Amitav Ghosh argues that we weren’t, we have been deliberately blind to the disasters looming in our future—until now.

 

CLIMATE CHANGE BOOKS ABOUT PEOPLE

PLASTIC: A TOXIC LOVE STORY BY SUSAN FREINKEL

One of the scariest things about plastic is that it’s kind of immortal. It can churn in the ocean for hundreds of years before it finally breaks down. Humans fell in love with this toxic material in 1950s, and since then, it has managed to work its way into almost everything we touch. Susan Freinkel recounts this love story in Plastic by digging deeper into the ways plastic affects our lives and the life of the planet.

STAYING ALIVE: WOMEN, ECOLOGY AND DEVELOPMENTStaying Alive: Women, Ecology and Development book cover BY VANDANA SHIVA

Originally published in 1988, activist Vandana Shiva’s seminal work, Staying Alive, explores the relationship between women and our natural world. In many places, the freedom of the women is directly related to a country’s outlook. More recent research has shown that women’s rights directly impacts sustainability. You could say that Shiva is the mother of that idea.

 

CLIMATE CHANGE BOOKS ABOUT POLITICS

THE MADHOUSE EFFECT: HOW CLIMATE CHANGE DENIAL IS THREATENING OUR PLANET, DESTROYING OUR POLITICS, AND DRIVING US CRAZY BY MICHAEL E. MANN AND TOM TOLES

Research has shown that climate denialists do, in fact, have brains. It’s just that they haven’t been using them. We have been manipulated, and logic has been twisted to distort the truth. In The Madhouse Effect, climate scientist Michael E. Mann comes together with cartoonist Tom Toles to create a funny, sad portrait of the mad world we’re living in.

THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING: CAPITALISM VS. THE CLIMATE BY NAOMI KLEIN

From the author of The Shock Doctrine, this book delves into the war between capitalism and the planet. In This Changes Everything, Naomi Klein argues something that many of us already know: we have to change our destructive habits that are rooted in capitalism. It may be the only way we can save our environment before it’s too late.

 

CLIMATE CHANGE BOOKS ABOUT RACISM

DUMPING IN DIXIE: RACE, CLASS, AND ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY BY ROBERT D. BULLARD

Not everyone will experience climate change equally. The poor and working class are already disproportionately affected by the problems of climate change. In Dumping in Dixie, Robert D. Bullard, a professor and environmental justice activist, asserts that living in a healthy environment is a right for all Americans, regardless of their race, class, or social standing.

Toxic Communities: Environmental Racism, Industrial Pollution, and Residential MobilityTOXIC COMMUNITIES: ENVIRONMENTAL RACISM, INDUSTRIAL POLLUTION, AND RESIDENTIAL MOBILITY BY DORCETA E. TAYLOR

For years, poor and minority communities have found themselves becoming the dumping ground for businesses hoping to get rid of waste on the path of least resistance. Shockingly, entrenched segregation and zoning laws have paved the way to make this possible, making communities of color sick for years—literally.

By , January