Saturday, 12 May 2018

5 Ways to Go Green with Printed Books

As I'm sure some of you are, I am also one of those people who care about the environment, whilst having a penchant for printed books. While I want to contribute to the fight against climate change, I am unwilling to give up hard copy—e-books just don't offer that wonderful smell and texture that comes with the experience of reading paper books. A lot of people like to say that you have to read electronically to do the planet a favour, while enriching yourself with knowledge and entertainment—amongst other things. But, I'd like to beg to differ, because I just can't enjoy the experience as much and I do believe some traditions are worth keeping. It might seem quite selfish, not wanting to give up something you really like for the sake of the greater good. But why should we have to, when we can find a better alternative that works for both? So here are some ways that you, too, can root for both teams, without giving up either one—and do your wallet a favour.

Join a library!

Library is a truly magical place, where, for either a small fee at the start or no charge at all, you can gain access to hundreds and thousands of books and other media. You can read various titles that you've always wanted to read, exemplars that are no longer available in stores and audio/videos that are exclusive for the library. If you're in school/university, this is usually included with your enrolment, so you can always just check out any title that you want straight away—granted you return them on time, of course. If you're an adult or not in school, you might want to look up the town library and apply to become a member—it usually takes no time at all. You can also join institutional or private libraries, of course, according to your taste and what you're looking for. Not only will you help reduce paper waste, you'll also save a lot of money and teach yourself discipline at the same time.

Swap with friends!

Probably one of the easiest thing to do, if your local library is too far away. Most people read, even if they don't particularly love doing it on a daily basis. Chances are, so do your friends. You might have seen them read something you've been meaning to buy yourself or you notice a book you fancy on their bookshelf. Why don't you swap with each other? This can be a permanent or temporary situation—I've done both and they've been very beneficial to me. If you have a book you don't like anymore, and your friend has something you've been eyeing—and vice versa—you can just both keep each other's books. If it's just for a short period of time, that's okay too. Both books will not go to waste, you'll be doing your wallet a favour and less trees would have to be cut down. Sure, you can just borrow a book from a friend the old-fashioned way too, if you don't have mutual interests.

Collective purchasing!

If you live in a house with siblings/roommates, this will most likely come naturally to you. It would seem almost silly or pointless to purchase the same book for each individual, when you live in the same household, right? My brother, sister and I often buy one book that everyone can enjoy—although I'm mostly the only one doing the reading. It often falls into the ownership of one person, though. But, if you feel like saving money as well as contributing to the fight against climate change, you can suggest to a friend/roommate/sibling to actually buy a book together, splitting the cost between the two (or more) of you. It might seem rather confusing, if and when you guys separate house, but you can always work out a system—the keeper paying the other half of the cost, for instance.

Buy secondhand!

A really obvious one, isn't it? I feel like this is most likely one of my absolute favourite things to do. Buying secondhand/antique books really gives a whole other feel to both the reading experience and the book itself. You can do it online, offline, local or abroad—you name it! Don't listen to naysayers, by the way, since I've bought quite a number of secondhand books myself, and they all have pretty good quality—some even look like they're relatively new. You can always raid a local secondhand bookstore or flea market. Or you can go to eBay or Amazon—they have a great selection of used books—or, you know, Tokopedia and Shopee, for my fellow Indonesian readers. They're usually more than half the price of a new one with less than half a decline in quality. Plus, you can probably ask the previous owner if it's a recommended book before buying.

Allow imperfections!

Sometimes, when I pass through bookstores, they happen to be having some drastic book sales. And, upon closer inspection, it turns out that these books are actually rejects. These are books that look less than perfect—a minor dent on the edge, a tiny scratch on the cover, a wet look but dry pages. They're also sometimes books that have been on the shelf for far too long, that the publisher and bookstore just want to get rid of them quickly. For that purpose, these books tend to be marked very, very low—in Indonesia imported books could go for as low as Rp 5.000,- (equaling to around US$ 0.37). Of course, be wary of the condition of the books, so as not to affect your reading experience, but this way you're saving these books from being discarded wastefully, without contributing to a new edition of the same title.

That's about all the tips I can give on this topic. If anyone knows any other way to go green with printed books, please leave it in the comments!

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