I love books! And for a while this sat a bit uncomfortably with my desire to go green. So, like with a lot of things, I’ve come up with a compromise.
1. I’ll visit the library more often instead of buying books. This way I know that if I borrow a book multiple times I’ll know it’s one that would be worth buying, because I’d make good use of it. Visiting the library also means I find books I might not otherwise have come across.
2. I’ll buy second hand books. These come mainly from charity shops or Amazon, although I’m trying to investigate other buyers – such as on eBay. As with buying anything else second hand – like clothes – this is better for the environment because you’re not creating a demand for a new product but instead are prepared to use what someone else doesn’t want. Plus, if you’re buying from a charity shop then you’re supporting the charity at the same time. I do feel increasingly reluctant to buy from Amazon because they’ve got such a strong hold over the market already and it would be nice to support other smaller companies with better values. But I also like to save money – which Amazon often helps me to do!
So my plan is to try and buy second hand whenever possible – making sure that the books I’m buying are those I am likely to reread many times. I recently bought Peter Mandelson’s autobiography The Third Man from a charity shop, and having read it once I know I’ll be going back to it again, so I think it was definitely a worthwhile purchase.
On the same topic, as I’m sure you’ve guessed I do have lots of books at home, lots of which I haven’t read for a while. Because I did an English Literature degree, I had to buy a lot of books, and some of them I doubt I will ever want to read again. I do feel a bit sentimental about getting rid of them, so my plan is to go through them slowly, maybe reread some of them, and decide whether I am prepared to let some go. Obviously I don’t want to end up with no books left at all, because I really enjoy reading and I love having books that I can read again and again and still get something new from them.
For me, this is quite a daunting task, so I’m not going to rush through it and get rid of all my books at once. The ones I do choose to give away I’ll either donate to a charity shop, or sell, depending on the quality. I’ll definitely continue visiting my local libraries too. I’m trying to get back into knitting again, and I think that it would save me a lot of money if I borrowed knitting books with patterns in from the library rather than buying them. That way I can try a few things out and see which patterns work best for me as I improve!
Remember, the environment is important, but your wellbeing is too, so remember to take things at a pace you feel comfortable with. That’s why I’m dealing with one topic at a time: if I tried to change everything in my life at once I’d feel overwhelmed and give up. So just choose something small and gradually change things for the better!
(On the subject of books, I highly recommend Beth Terry’s Plastic Free Life and Andrew Simms and Joe Smith (eds.) Do Good Lives Have to Cost the Earth? as they’ve both inspired me on my green journey!)
How do you make changes for the better in your life?