Reading in itself is a great hobby. It requires no electricity (except maybe a lamp) or energy to perform compared to other types of media like TV or the Internet. However, making books requires paper, and paper comes from trees. Paper is a renewable resource thanks to the fact that trees can regrow, but keeping your resource usage in mind is always a good idea. Especially today when more forests are being cut down to give room for crops and cattle. So always buying new books might not be a very eco-friendly choice.
Additionally, if you try to live a more minimalist or conscious life buying new books all the time will result in an overcrowded bookshelf and home. And a cluttered home, gives a cluttered mind, and we don’t want that, do we?
Reading that doesn’t require chopping down trees
So should we just stop reading? Of course not! Reading is a great way of gaining knowledge and amusement. So if you want a more minimalist and eco-friendly reading practice, below are a few tips.
As a child, I would spend hours in the library getting lost in the rows filled with books. A habit I recently got back into because it’s great! It’s (more or less) free and it has more books than I could possibly ever read, no risk of getting bored. If you have the privilege of having a library where you live, definitely check it out.
Borrow from friends
Another free option is to simply borrow from friends and family! You probably know someone or several people who have at least 10+ books at home. Why not ask if you can borrow a few the next time you visit? Apart from being free and resource smart, it might give you something to discuss the next time you meet!
Swapping has become commonplace in fashion and clothing, but honestly, it’s even better for books. Most of the time we only read something once or twice, so why should it take up space on your shelves? Why not organize a small book swap with your colleagues or your friends’ group?
Second hand first applies as much to books as it does any other item. By buying second hand you are using resources that have already been used. And while it’s not free, it’s definitely more affordable than investing in new.
Nowadays there are several subscription services where you can pay a monthly fee and get access to hundreds of audiobooks. Granted that you won’t be reading it yourself, this can be a great option if you are an auditive person, also if you drive a lot or just have little energy/possibility to read yourself.
This one requires quite some resources to produce (batteries and plastic) but if you are a big reader it can be worth the investment. Both money-wise and for the planet. You might even be able to score one-second hand! The nice thing about an e-reader is if you travel a lot or read on public transport as it allows you to bring a library of books in a few hundred grams.
So, if you are one of those people who love the feel of a physical book in your hands, realize that there are a lot of options out there for you. You don’t have to get an e-reader (nor should you if you don’t like it).
And, if you really do love a filled bookshelf and it gives your life more meaning, continue by all means. But maybe you could decrease it just a bit? Buying only the ones’ that you really want and for the rest don’t. Book swap with friends, or go to the library. If you really like it afterwards you can always make the splurge then and it won’t have cost you an extra dime!