3 Eco-Friendly Benefits of Buying Used Textbooks


We all know books need trees for paper. Still, it goes beyond that—making a book needs freshwater, transporting, ink expenses, and various technologies. The result? A carbon footprint of approximately 2.71 kg per book.

Textbooks comprise a big portion of book production since most are mandatory, and new students come in each semester. However, there is a problem: although many people need them, their utility to them only lasts a bit.

Fortunately, there’s a green option just around the corner: used textbooks. By choosing this eco-friendly alternative, you can not only reduce your impact on the environment but also save some money. Let’s take a closer look at three of the most significant benefits of buying used textbooks.

1. Decreases Landfill Waste

According to 2018 data from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), annual waste from books sits at approximately 690,000 tons within the United States, or about 0.2% of total landfill waste.

The number may sound small, but let’s put it in perspective. According to worldwide estimations, a saddening 320 million books are thrown into landfills yearly, and only one-third are recovered.

Unlike food waste, book waste is entirely avoidable—the same book can be used by many people many times. As such, purchasing used textbooks gives them a symbolic “second life” and, thus, prevents them from increasing landfill waste.

2. Reduces Pollution

Buying one used textbook means one less textbook in a landfill, which eventually means less pollution from waste. But as impactful as it is, that’s merely the start.

Earlier, we mentioned that a single book has a carbon footprint of around 2.71 kg of CO2. The number isn’t very impressive until you consider how many books exist. It’s hard to measure precisely, but in 2022, total sales of new books reached 788.7 million units—only in the United States.

Those are big numbers, but you can reduce them. By buying used textbooks, you lessen the need for new ones—and by decreasing demand, the carbon footprint naturally shrinks.

3. Preserves Natural Resources

Much like many other industries, printing books has an environmental cost.

The pulp and paper industry is the 5th largest consumer of energy in the world, while the United States accounts for over 30% of the world’s paper consumption. Likewise, making paper consumes lots of fresh water, and ink has its own complex production process.

In short, making a book costs resources. A lot of them.

By buying used textbooks, you contribute to reducing the needless consumption of natural resources. With enough used textbooks getting a second life, there are fewer cut trees and wasted water.


Give Textbooks a Second Home

No matter how you look at it, going secondhand regarding books is a net win.

Not only are used textbook prices more affordable than the brand-new option, but it’s an environmental choice you can be proud of. You’re not creating a new demand for books—instead, that used textbook already had its fair share of timber, water, ink, and pollution.

Plus, we left the best news for last. Once you’re done, you can continue the cycle and sell your textbook to someone else. You get a bigger bang for your buck and continue to extend its lifespan, preventing an excellent book from senselessly rotting in a landfill.

A green win for both Mother Nature and your pockets.

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