Kim's Bookshops

The second life of books

The second life of books

You might be a top-notch recycler, but have you ever tried to recycle a book? If you have, depending on where you live, you might well have come to realise that it is not as simple as tossing that well-read book in with your flattened cardboard! Although some communities have a recycling program there are many who do not, you can always check with your local council to see if they run a program. Throughout the UK, there are large number of paper recyclers who are unable to recycle your books due to the glue that binds books along the spine. There is also the book’s cover to consider, since it may contain plastic, cloth, leather or other non-paper materials; that’s why over 200 million books end up in landfill!!

1. Buy a Second-Hand Book

Not only can you save a few £’s, but buying a second-hand book is a great way to make sure it isn’t ending up in our landfill. It is also a great way of supporting your local second-hand bookshop. There are few things more satisfying than browsing a well-ordered bookshop for that elusive out-of-print book you have been searching for, and you will be amazed at the huge variety of titles and genres that are available, often in very good condition.

2. Sell Your Books

If the thought of getting up at the crack of dawn and heading off to your local car boot sale doesn’t hold great appeal, telephone your local second-hand bookshop. If they can’t use them, they can probably point you in the right direction. Next port of call, try your local church or scout group, these organisations often hold book sales to raise money and are always on the lookout for donations.

3. Donate Your Books to a Charity

For many people, donating their unwanted books to a local or national charity is often their first choice. However, what many people do not realise is that when they donate books to a charity, a large percentage of these books are either sent for pulping or, in the worst case scenario, can end up in landfill. All you need do when next in a charity shop is take a look at their bookshelves to see that there are few, if any, books that aren’t modern paperback fiction titles!! Next time you are thinking about donating your books look at other options such as your local library or community group.

4. Get Creative

If a book is completely destroyed, maybe with water damage, a weird stain, or too much love, pull it apart and make something new. Use book pages for origami, collages, or as a canvas and create a new project for your art class, your bedroom, or your family fridge. Want a nifty way to hide something? Try hollowing out an old book, it’s a really creative way to hide your spare keys or that secret note! After all, who is going to searching your bookshelves for hidden treasure. You can follow this link to see how easily it is done

5. Help for African Children

Access to an education is one of the only opportunities young people have to end the cycle of poverty and attain a better quality of life than previous generations. Most African children who attend school have never owned a book of their own. In many classrooms, 10-20 students share one textbook. Many people in the UK take these educational necessities for granted, but children in Africa cherish books. A great way to help these children is to donate any second-hand text books you may have. You can do this through Books for Africa a Charity whose aim is to end the book famine in Africa.

6. Create Some Funky Gift Wrap

Hit two birds with one stone by using old book pages as gift wrap! Not only are you saving money and paper by not purchasing gift wrap, but you’ll be putting you old books to good use. The end product is usually pretty cute too and will be much more appreciated by your friends and family than store bought wrapping paper.

7. Book Swap

Book swapping or book exchange is a great way to shift your unwanted books and is the practice of swapping books between one individual and another. Book swaps are often informal and can be arranged between colleagues at work, members of a book club or residents in a care home. The practice has grown widely over recent years and you will now often find a shelf or box were books can be exchanged in all sorts of places including school staff rooms, doctors’ surgeries and hospital emergency departments. We have even heard of one set up by local residents in an old village phone box!

A Happy Ending

Operators of the waste collection service in Ankara (Turkey) decided to create a small local library with the books they were recovering from the waste containers. The city hall of the Çsankaya metropolitan district gave them an old unused build place for the project. The new library has turned out to be a great example of how to recycle old books and today is the home to some 6,000 titles.


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