I am an avid reader. For me, buying books and exchanging them with friends has always been the norm. However in the last few years, I have been trying to green my way into reading. According to the Green Press Initiative, approximately 30 million trees are used in the production of books sold in the United States. The raw materials used in book production can have devastating effects on the environment. While the book industry is implementing measures, such as the use of recycled paper, to minimize the impact on our natural resources, one wonders how such a good habit can be made greener. Books can be downloaded from the computer and even loaded on to our phones and there are e-readers that help readers find a good book with the touch of a button.
In spite of these electronic options, however, I prefer to venture into the world of reading the traditional way—by actually holding a book in my hands. I truly enjoy the touch, feel, and smell of the actual book. There are greener options for reading the old-fashion way. Besides borrowing books from the library, I also swap with friends. Another great way to reduce my carbon footprint has been the Salvation Army store where I can find recent titles as well as paperbacks for less than $3.00 and the book swap section at the library. In our Caribbean Environmental Protection Division office we keep a large bin by the reception desk where all EPA readers drop off books of all genres. When the books have been read by most of the participants they are taken to the library for book swapping, thus ensuring that new titles keep making their way into our office. You can pursue another green option by visiting book swapping websites. On these sites, you get points for every title you submit and then you can use those credits to get additional books. One small caveat is that the exchange of books still needs to take place via the mail.
If you are a traditional reader like me who loves book shops and libraries, make sure that when picking up your next read you consider these options.
About the author: Brenda Reyes Tomassini joined EPA in 2002. She is a public affairs specialist in the San Juan, Puerto Rico office and also handles community relations for the Caribbean Environmental Protection Division.