5 Ways to Recycle Your Old Books

January 20, 2022

Over the years, you may have collected more books than you know what to do with. If your vast collection has become too large to manage and you need to do some downsizing, or some of your books aren’t in good readable condition, there are several ways to safely and sustainably dispose of your used literature. Read on to learn the different ways you can reduce, reuse and recycle your old books.


Are books recyclable?

Books and magazines are considered mixed paper products, which means there are many great ways to recycle your old books. Recycling books isn’t only good for keeping your home clutter-free, but each ton of paper recycled saves three cubic yards of landfill, space, 380 gallons of oil, 17 trees, 4,000 kilowatts of energy and 7,000 gallons of water!


Can paperback books be recycled?

Yes, paperback books are the easiest to recycle due to their simple composition. Different compositions of books, such as hardcover and clothbound books, may require additional steps to dispose of sustainably.


How to dispose of books?

1.    Create a Community Library

If your old books are still in good condition, you could consider starting your own community library! These community libraries, often referred to as Little Free Libraries, help make books accessible for people of all ages within a local community. Having a box or other enclosure filled with books for neighbours to borrow would greatly support learning and literacy within your community. The best part is, they’re easy to start and, over time, others will likely donate books from their collections, too!

2.    Donate to an Organization in Need

Chances are, your local library, charity shop, or housing program has a significant need for used books. When you donate your books to community initiatives like these, you can feel good knowing you’re making a positive impact on the environment and bringing joy to those who may not be able to purchase books for themselves.

3.    Start a Book Club

If you read something that you think a friend or family member might enjoy, share the joy of reading! After you and your friends have read the book, you can meet virtually or in-person to talk about your thoughts and even make recommendations on future books to read! Who said reading had to be an independent hobby? Not us!

4.    Recycle Books with Regular Curbside Pickup

If your books are missing pages or otherwise in disrepair, it might be time to recycle them. Since books are considered mixed paper products, most curbside recycling programs will accept them, with a few exceptions. While you can typically recycle paperback books with other paper products, you will need to remove any non-recyclable components of your books, such as hardcover bindings, cloth bindings, or staples, before disposal. If you have any questions about recycling your old books, reach out to your local recycling program to learn about their specific policies.

5.    Repurpose Books for Craft Projects

If your books aren’t in the best reading condition, but you can’t bear the thought of recycling them, we highly recommend you get crafty! There are thousands of creative tutorials online that can teach you how to repurpose your old books for craft projects; try your hand at making envelopes, gift tags, wreaths and more and gift your creations to your loved ones or decorate your home. The options are endless!


Next time you need to downsize your book collection, keep these 5 ways to recycle your old books in mind to be sure you dispose of your books sustainably and responsibly. And if you’re looking for a site to help you build your book collection affordably, Book Outlet has you covered with up to 90% off brand new books every day.


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