Ever delved so deep into books and thought what it would be like to live with your favourite characters in real life? You’re not alone. The urge to dissolve yourself in wonderful stories is even stronger during the monsoon or winter, with a chai (or coffee) in one hand and a book in another.
Some readers are so obsessed with books, they love collecting them and reading them – night and day. But that’s what books do. They lift up your mood, lighting up an otherwise dull day.
But books have a dark side
In all your love for books, you neglect one important side effect – the harm to the environment. When this thought crossed my mind a few days ago, I researched the dark side of books. And the findings were astonishing.
30 million trees are cut annually to make books in the US alone.
That’s right. 30 million!
Being a book lover, this fact devastated me. Almost instantaneously, I felt like I had to do something about it. I met up with a friend, who’s also a bibliophile, and had an extensive but fruitful discussion on this topic. We met up at our favourite place, sat down with some coffee and dove right into it. After much consideration, we weighed several alternatives and came out with a list that is actually quite easy to see through.
Here’s what you can do to make it better
The ultimate goal of these actions is to discourage book publishers from printing more books and reduce the cutting of trees.
Sign up with a local library
By signing up with a local library, you can read as many books as you want. Plus, there’s a wide range to choose from. And perhaps the best thing about it is you don’t have to spend as much because libraries charge very low rates to borrow books. If you purchase books regularly, you’ll know the vast difference in costs.
This is a pocket-friendly option that appealed to us considering you may bump into fellow bibliophiles and make new friends. You can even exchange your To Be Read (TBR) lists and have meaningful discussions over a book.
Of course, the disadvantage is that there’ll be less books at home. But you can still look out for second-hand books from bookstores or purchase from fairs which sell donated books. You could also purchase books by considering the fact that not all books that are produced are sold and end up in landfills anyway. If you choose to do the latter, save your books or donate them to a library/book fair when you need to give them away.
Participate in book exchanges
Another option is to exchange books among your friends or fellow book lovers. This discourages over-purchasing of books as several people share one copy.
My friend and I planned to create a book community where we can share our books with others and have other members do the same. Readers can complete reading the book before the next meet and exchange another. The whole group can read just one copy and the person who loves the book the most can choose to own it. In this way, each book switches hands and that’s one less book printed.
Choose E-books over paperback
E-books have long been considered a more eco-friendly option than physical books. This isn’t necessarily true as electricity also uses natural resources and may harm the environment if used in excess.
That being said, e-books are a good option if you’re an avid reader, you read at least 3 books in a month and will continue to do so in the long term. Thus, to switch to e-books, you should take note of your reading habits first and then make the decision. If you don’t fit any of the above criteria, it’s best to stick to the first and second options, or you’ll end up making a worse impact on the environment.
Wrapping it up
Reading books is a much more sustainable hobby when compared to some others which have huge carbon emissions. The existing drawbacks can be overcome with well-structured discussions in booklovers’ communities and through sustainable choices.
The idea of having a book club got us pumped up because it reduces harm to the environment and is also fun. The club can hold book discussions, themed get-togethers, critical book review sessions and more. Members can bond and have an amazing time while being conscious consumers.
So, dear book readers, the most impactful steps you can take is being friends with fellow bibliophiles and sharing books. You’ll not just have a wonderful time, you’ll also get to experience the joy of giving and peace of mind. All you have to do is a little research, connect with your local library or book clubs and march your way to sustainability.
Kanishka Bajoria, a graduate student at Jesus and Mary College, Delhi University is a learning enthusiast. Being an eclectic personality, she likes to explore different fields and gain a diverse experience. As a person who is always passionate about environmental issues, Kanishka loves to delve into ideas that could help contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals.
Edited by Ayesha Tari