Circular Economy: The Book Library

Circular Economy: The Book Library

Today I want to share something about lending with you. About lending books! If you’re a reader (like me) this is almost a must when it comes to trying to living sustainable. Lending is the new buying! And it should be, because it is has many benefits! Not only for the environment, but for yourself too. I have a card at the local library and I want to tell you why. This post I am telling you about an essential part of a circular economy: the book library.

What’s wrong with buying a book?

Well, first things first. Book are made from trees. And cutting down trees is just not sustainable. There are special forests created for trees that will be cut down. These forests don’t really support the biodiversity of an area because it a monoculture. This area where this forrest is could be used differently too, for food or just a natural forest. That is reason one. Then, cutting trees is not the only thing that has to happen to make a book. There is a long story to it, and if you read The Story Of Stuff you’ll be amazed with how much effort it takes to make a single book.

And then there is reason three. I think we have made books into a single use item! And that is so wrong! Even if the books weren’t made from trees, but another material, it’ll still be wrong. I think you know by now how I feel about single use items. The point is: why make all the effort for something you will only use once? I think most people only read a book once and then get rid of it. Because, once you’ve read it, why keep it? You know what’s in there.

And what about e-books?

I’ve thought about this too. Buying a secondhand e-reader and putting books onto there. It doesn’t take so many materials and it is light weight in your bag. I have not done the research to be exact, but personally I don’t think we have enough materials to all have an e-reader. I believe I once read we already have a problem if everyone on the planet has a mobile phone. Therefore, I prefer paper books still. And that is, because they’re made out of sort of material and so most of it can be composted (if not all). And even though I’ve said I don’t like cutting trees for books, I think it is still better than making all these e-reader. They have to mine for that and that destroys environments. Also, trees are renewable.

The Benefits of a Book Library

Okay, so I think you know where I’m going by now. If you don’t want to buy books or own an e-reader, what do you do? Right, you go to the local library! Sharing is caring! Lending is so much more sustainable than buying books, because the resources are split. In my case split by 26.000 (the amount of people who are a member of the library)! We all share the same books. Lending books therefore cuts the idea of a single-use item because the books are read and used to much more. Not only by me, but by the other members. That’s why a circular economy can’t do without the book library.

When you read the book ‘The Hidden Impact’ you know that the biggest contributor of climate change of a single person in the Netherlands is the stuff he or she buys. So, buying less means living more sustainable. It also supports my minimalistic lifestyle. After I finish reading a book, I return it to the library right away. This way it does not take up space in my home. And that space is vulnerable. If I had to keep all the books I’ve read in my home, I definitely need another room the size of my current room. That means more space to buy in the first place (I need to buy a bigger house), more space to clean (which takes up time and effort which I’d like to spend otherwise) and also, stuff makes not only your house clutter, but also your mind. Having less stuff clears the mind, really.

The Costs

Lending books cost me 42 euros a year. I think I read about 60 books a year. That means I only pay about 0,70 cents for a book. That is so much cheaper than buying books! So lending will save you money if you’re a committed reader. Even if you read about 4 books a year, it will be cheaper because buying a new book already costs you about 12 euros a book (or more!). In the Netherlands a subscription is free when you’re under 18, so if you’re not 18 yet you benefit even more!

‘These services cost less than their alternatives, and by allowing people to share more and buy less, they contribute to a sustainable lifestyle that generates less waste while still providing a positive consumer experience.’ – Sarah Fecht

It Could be Better

Even though the library is amazing, it could still do better I think. And maybe in the future that will happen. I wish all the books were English, but that would only benefit me I guess and many other Dutch people won’t be happy haha. The reason I hope we can be able to do that one day is so we can share the books more. Share the books with other libraries in the Netherlands but also other countries. This way we need even less books to share with more people.

We should tackle the transportation issue at that point, but I think we could do that. Second, I think they should offer not only a subscription but also a one-time lending card. If you really want to read a book but it is only one in a full year, an subscription is expensive. So, if they offer people to lend only once, that would be great too. That would also be a solution for people who are not able to spend 42 euros a year.

What if I can’t find All the Books I Want to Read?

I have a long list of books I want to read. Very long. There are books on there which they do not have at the local library. That’s okay, I’ll first read all the books they do have. And when I’m finished with that and really want to read the ones they don’t have I will look for them online secondhand. Ebay, Marktplaats, anything. This’ll cost you money, but because the books are second hand it is still sustainable. But trust me, they have many books at the library. So I think you’ll be able to find the ones you want to read.

I am so happy with my library card! And I think a circular economy can’t do without the book library. What about you?

Yours sincerely, 

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