7 Ways to Make Your Reading More Eco-Friendly


One of my goals for this year has been to research and brainstorm different changes I could make to my everyday life to adopt more environmentally conscious habits, reduce my carbon footprint, and switch to sustainable over one-time use product options. Between looking up environmentally friendly kitchen ware and cleaning products, it struck me that one aspect of my life that I hadn’t examined: my reading habits. Being a reader is a huge part of my life and books are a significant consumption category for me so it seemed natural to see if I could make adjustments in this part of my life as well. It took some time and trial and error but over time I found new habits and changes to incorporate into my reading life to try to be a more environmentally conscious reader. Today I wanted to share these tips with you! So without further ado, here are some tips to help make you a more environmentally friendly reader! 

Consider switching to e-Books and audio books

Reading E-books and listening to audiobooks is a great way to add a new dimension to your reading life in an environmentally friendly way. There are various ways to access Ebooks and audiobooks but many platforms have apps which allow you to access your books directly from your phone. Investing in an E-reader device can also be a greener option if you are a reader who goes through books quickly. If you are a frequent magazine or newspaper reader, consider switching to a digital subscription instead. They are often much cheaper than print alternatives, make it easier to access back issues, and you don’t have to worry about an ever growing mountain of old newspapers. 

Check out used books stores or overstocked books

Used bookstores are a great option for when you do want a physical copy of a book and don’t mind if it is not brand new. Apart from being a greener option, used books are also easier on the wallet. If you’re looking for greener options for new books, check to see if your local bookstore has an overstock section. These are books that have not been previously owned but are generally available at significantly reduced prices as they would otherwise might be disposed of by the publisher.  

Borrow books from a friend

If you are lucky enough to have a trustworthy book buddy with whom you share reading tastes, why not agree to lend each other books? Everyone’s mileage for lending out their books is different. Some folks have no problem lending out books and for others, their books are their baby (I have been both of these people at different times). If you can find the right person, sharing books can be a great set up. Another bonus is that you’ll have someone to squee about the books with once you both have read it. 

Host a book swap with your friends

Want to be more eco-friendly with your friends but maybe you’re not so into the idea of sharing your shelf? Why not do a book swap instead? If you have books you are planning on getting rid of or donating ask your friends if they have some too. Bringing everyone together to exchange books can be a great way to catch up with friends and get rid of and acquire new books all in one! 

Use your Library  

Ok, this is kind of an obvious one but I will never not take an opportunity to gush about what a great resource your local library can be. Not only are local libraries a huge money saver, but libraries are a great way to access books and materials that you might not be able to find at your used bookstore. Many libraries also have Ebook and audiobook check out options through apps like Libby in case you want to go super green. Bonus tip: Some libraries will have book sales throughout the year to raise funds for their branches by selling old library books, so it’s a win-win!

Donate your old books to your library, used bookstore or local lending libraries

We’ve covered ways to acquire books in a more environmentally conscious way, so now let’s talk about paying it forward. If you are the type of person who regularly culls their shelves consider donating your books to your local library, used bookstores (some bookstores will exchange books for store credit!), or filling up your local Free Little Libraries. That way another reader acquire their books in an environmentally friendly way as well!  

Forgo extra book swag or select eco-friendly options

This one was admittedly a hard one for me. I am a lover of all things book swag and accessories. Bookmarks, bookshelves and bookish themed anything, yes please! Reevaluating whether I needed vs. wanted another bookish accessory whenever the opportunity to acquire a new one presented itself, helped me cut down on accumulating more swag than I actually used.

Similarly, I considered how much mileage I was getting out of book subscription services and boxes I was acquiring. I kept some, unsubscribed to others, and switched to some services that explicitly used environmentally friendly products and practices. 

Being a more eco-friendly reader doesn’t mean forgoing all new print purchases. The book collector in me still loves seeing my books lined up on my shelf, browsing my favorite local bookstores for my next read, and purchasing a new release from my favorite author. However, reevaluating my bookish habits and making adjustments has helped me continue to enjoy my bookish habits in more environmentally friendly (and often cheaper!) ways. This is certainly not a comprehensive list but if you are looking to make your reading a little greener why not give some a try too? What are some of your tips to help you become a greener reader? 


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