Green Life Project is a weekly series of posts highlighting one change for readers to make in order to gradually green their lives.
This week’s Green Life Project action item is to get and use a library card (or use the one you already have). Get in this habit rather than first buying and then seeing if you like the book. If you like it enough that you really want to own it, after checking it out of the library, then go purchase it!
How is a library card making my life greener? You may have already picked up on it! I want to read a book and instead of buying it, essentially spending money and creating demand for the production of a book made from paper and shipped to a store. Most of my books, once I’ve read them (provided that I actually read them entirely), end up sitting on the shelf, maybe not being picked up again until the bookshelves or I need to move. I have occasionally sold them on Amazon, passing them on to someone else, but there’s a cheaper, greener way to do this process.
It all starts with a library card. I got mine today! I live in Chicago and the Chicago Public Library allows you to reserve a book online and have it dropped off at a specific library of your choosing. My girlfriend showed me the way on this one and she takes advantage of this amazing service! Now of course, services at libraries vary, but chances are, even your small community will have a library with some worthwhile resources.
What else? I was in the, “popular,” area of the Harold Washing Library today and saw both CDs and DVDs, as well as some older educational VHS format videos. The cost? It’s free! You just have to make sure you have it back to them in time! Think of all the lacquer, plastic, and metals that go into making CDs and DVDs! You’re cutting out the waste and libraries allow us to view more richly produced media without having to purchase it and store it afterward. Years later and you want to see it again? Go back to the library and pick up that DVD, watch it and return it! Years later, you might just find it digitized to the point that having the hard copy would seem silly.
Certainly, some movies and books are worth owning — you know you’ll refer back to or watch them again and again! Check them out first through your library and decide whether or not you really want it on your shelf. If the answer is, “yes,” then go out and make the buy.
Libraries help us to cut demand for different media because one copy of a book can serve potentially dozens or hundreds of people over its life (a librarian could probably tell us the average number of uses for a book) instead of each of those users needing to purchase the item! Cutting the demand for the media cuts the demand for the raw materials and energy used to produce and ship the items to you.a
This week, go get a library card if you don’t have one and if you already have one, go out and use it!