On the 22nd of April we’ll celebrate Earth Day. This is a day in which we should all think about ways we could improve the environmental conditions of our planet and of those communities we live in. While there are many things that we could all do to reduce our pollution, conserve resources, and spread the word, there is one very simple and affordable for everyone that may have as much impact as the best of them: Get a library card.
We have debated before the advantages of using libraries, specially for education. Educating yourself about how your activities make an impact on the planet and how we could be more environmentally friendly would be a great starting point. Your local library, and also your local bookstore, will have rows of shelves dedicated to this with a kind and eager professional staff willing to point you in the right direction. But more importantly, libraries are great stewards of our scarce resources, specially in the book industry. If you consider the total life-cycle of the book, this industry is full of waste at almost every step in the supply chain. However libraries are one of the few entities where the 3 Rs (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) still hold true.
– Reduce: Libraries reduce the amount of books wasted. About 30% of the books sold to retailers are sent back as returns to publishers. A portion of them get into the remainder circle, but most spend their time at the publishers warehouse until they get destroyed. After 18 years of selling to libraries, SBD’s return rate from them is close to 0%. Librarians do a great job of selecting the titles they want for their collection and at forecasting demand.
– Reuse: Once most people finish reading a book they own, they either put it back into their library at home or give it to a friend. Most purchased books are only read once or twice. Books at the libraries are available for circulation for much longer than that before they are taken away to storage or weeded.
– Recycle: Once a book is taken away from circulation, in most cases it is kept on storage in case there is a future demand for it. After its useful life, most libraries have donation programs set up through which books get a second life. Only few books get thrown away and often to paper recycling companies that get them to be resold to paper companies. None of the libraries that we work with would actually throw a book to their trash to end up at a landfill. For librarians books are too precious for that.
All of us can and should do more to protect our environment. This Earth Day should serve as a reminder of that. While we may not be able to do many of the things we wish we could do, visiting our local library is a simple and easy first step. We will not only support a steward of our planet, but we could also take a great book home. At that may be the second best thing to protect the environment, through better knowledge. So, go out there, support your library system, and if you don’t already have one, get a library card.
Your Friends @ SBD
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