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Bookworms to Earthworms. How do we make reading more sustainable?

Books, especially newer publications, are held in high esteem as a wellbeing resource and a way to educate yourself. Every year, more and more people attempt to pick up reading as a good habit, but how good is the habit?

Ebooks, a subject of controversy and a polarising issue in the world of readers, are often seen as the more sustainable option. A study in 2009 found ebooks to be unsustainable too, as they are non-renewable and disposal of them is harmful to the planet. So it demands an answer, what is a sustainable way to enjoy our favourite stories?


Our libraries are crying out for use. Libraries have been praised and cited for their links to health and wellbeing, community, information, accessibility, and finally the environment.

However, the use of them is dwindling every year, and they hold the perfect solution. Whilst many of us covet the books on our shelves, especially our favourites, how sustainable really is that?

Oxford library (source: Darrell Godliman, 2017, Flickr).

Second hand books

My personal favourite spot for book shopping are charity shops, where you can score a best-seller for less than £2.00. It does mean leaving it up to fate, however, and hoping that the book you already have in mind will show up. The area is a key hint at what kind of books you can find; for example, areas near a university are normally filled with textbooks galore after a quick dorm cleanout, and areas with an older population are going to have more valuable books from a well-needed attic cleanout.

This is also a great opportunity to explore different genres and to find a hidden gem every now and again, making the process even more rewarding and exciting.

Book-swap events

Book swap events can be seen on websites such as Eventbrite in your area; what this can usually include is a group of like-minded bookworms meeting up and trading their well-read, dog-eared stories. These are normally seen in university settings, village/town halls, and advertised through schools.

They definitely seem harder to spot, but can be a valuable experience to meet new people and hand out that book that changed your life to someone who is going to really value it. Sustainability for Students has hosted its own Book Swap events in Athens, Greece, with one coming on 29 May, 2022!

Further reading:


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