What To Do with old/unused books:
If you find yourself with a book or a whole shelf of books that are collecting dust, perhaps it’s time to find them a new home. There are many ways to responsibly dispose of books––meaning options for books to have a second life (or third if you purchased them used). Sustainable living is about finding ways to repurpose and reuse items we have and keep them out of landfill and from negatively impacting the environment. With books there are a plethora of ways we can repurpose them––from crafts to finding a new bookshelf where they belong. This post has 11 suggestions for ways you can recycle your old or unread books.
Host A Virtual Book Swap Party
Gather a group of people together via Zoom or your preferred video chat platform where together, you can unwrap a book sent in the mail. Each person can send a book (or multiple) to the person in the group who likes a genre or storyline that the other person no longer needs on their shelf. This is a way to support the USPS if you’re in the USA and to repurpose books, allowing for them to have a new home with a reader who will dive into the pages.
Sell Them On Amazon
Amazon has a section of their website where you can list and choose from used books. This allows for those purchasing a title to have a more budget-friendly option and provides an additional revenue stream if you have more than one book to sell.
Donate To the town’s public library
Contact your local public library and ask if they are currently accepting gently-used or like-new books. Some will say yes, and others could provide you with resources should they be at capacity.
Donate to school libraries
Contact local schools––both private and public, to see if you can donate books to certain grades/classrooms/the general school library. Schools and teachers have a tight education budget per year and if the titles are in alignment with their literary needs, this is a great way for both your need and theirs to be met.
Donate To A Local Hospitals
With the pandemic, I’m not sure if they are accepting donations. Please call ahead to ask and if they are not, ask which charities (like the RMCH) may be in need and offer a drop-off window/sanitary space to deliver the books.
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Donate To Teachers
Books can be expensive and teachers are always looking to build their library and resources. Start by posting online and asking if any teachers would like to receive the books you are donating. If you know a teacher, this is a great way to support them, so don’t be shy in reaching out!
Giveaways are all the range in the influencer online community- take a page out of their books (pun intended) and host your own. Share to your story or feed about how you’re looking to free up space on your bookshelves and see if anyone in your digital circle is interested in adding to their personal library.
Hide & Seek
In 2017 Emma Watson (known for Harry Potter) made headlines for hiding books around New York City. Gather gently used books you may have and tuck them around your community/ city- leave clues on social media or enlist small businesses to give out clues by allowing a map or flyer to be displayed in their shop. Of course, please comply with your city/government’ policy.
Donate To Shelters
Those who are facing hardship or houseless want to be taken on an adventure, too! A book is a great item to give them to engage in their imagination, utilize their reading skills, and encourage connection with something.
Connect with community organizations/ after school programs/ mom’s groups
Oftentimes the people in attendance at these groups aren’t directly pattered with schools and have their own resources. It’s worth inquiring about their need for books- for all ages or a specific reading range that you may have.
“Little Free Library is a nonprofit that builds community, inspires readers, and expands book access for all through a global network of volunteer-led little libraries. Through Little Free Library book exchanges, millions of books are exchanged each year, profoundly increasing access to books for readers of all ages and backgrounds.” There is a map on the website (click here) where you can find the nearest Free Little Library.
Bring wipes/sanitization products and wear a mask to slow the spread of COVID-19 germs