recycling textbooks [link friday, 1.18]

This week over on Twitter, I was asked: 
What can I do with these big, old college textbooks in my closet?
I realized it was a great question that I'm sure many people have, and would make a great Link Friday post.

Textbooks are frustrating and not eco-friendly because they become obsolete so quickly and become near-impossible to sell back to bookstores. These days, textbooks are more often available as ebooks, cutting down a large amount of paper. Some books are simply hole-punched pages that you put in your own binder, making it easy to simply recycle at the end of the semester. And many traditional textbooks include codes for electronic versions or online assignments.

But there are still options on recycling old traditional textbooks. If you're a crafty person, you can always use the pages as materials, and a hard cover as a kind of flat support. Earth911 has five craft ideas for used books. The AR River Valley Regional Library Pinterest page has a board dedicated to crafts made from used books.

If you're not crafty, you can always try donating the books to Goodwill or Salvation Army. Most local libraries accept used textbooks, including the Lafayette Public Library. There, the books are put out for sale at the twice-yearly Friends of the Library Book Sale.

MoneyCrashers has a list of 10 places where you can donate used books.

Books for Africa is one site that comes up frequently when looking into recycling textbooks. Books For Africa is the largest shipper of donated text and library books to the African continent, shipping over 27 million books to 48 different countries since 1988. They accept, among other book types, primary, secondary and college textbooks (soft and hard cover) with a 1998 or newer publish date.

GotBooks accepts books and then clean and sort them by hand. Reusable books are sent to a subsidiary company, where they are available at incredibly cheap prices. However, they don't throw any books away. Books that are damaged or are unusable are recycled. They also operate several philanthropic programs that distribute books for free.

Green Textbooks accepts donations and sells used textbooks. Their goal is to work with college students, publishing companies, schools, and universities to conserve natural resources and preserve forests.

Better World Books buys and sells used textbooks. You can type in the book's ISBN number and get a quote right away.

On a larger scale, Recycle Your Textbooks is a great option. They work with organizations to set up donation bins for accepting textbooks. The books are then put back into circulation through various channels developed over the years. Every book is reused or ground into other paper products.

Thanks for the great question, Ryan! If you ever have a question on what to do with a particular item you just can't get rid of, Tweet me or email me!

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