Are Books Recyclable? (And Ways To Reuse Old Books)

One of the most important developments in the history of man is definitely that of paper and books. Even today, various books represent human most prized collections. However, beyond this, there is a wide need for books that make it indispensable. Regardless of the level of education, one thing you cannot do away with is books.

However, just like most things, their use is not permanent. Sooner or later, those books become less useful to their owners. And even when we try to keep them, they begin to take up space over time. As such, you will be left to wonder what you can do about them.

One thing that comes to mind is recycling. So, you are left to ask yourself, are books recyclable. Well, that is one important question. In this article, we’ll address it in detail. Then, we will focus on other important questions that you might have.

Dive in!

Can You Recycle Old Books?

Just before we get into a direct answer to your question, one thing is noteworthy. This is the fact that your books come from paper. In case you did not know, the paper is a material that you can recycle.

As such, if you are looking to recycle your books, you are well within your rights. You can recycle books. However, the reality is that you will need to exercise some level of caution. This is because while paper makes up books, that is not its only composition.

Typically, loads of paper get held together to make up books. For instance, this might be through strings, cloths, or glue. Now thanks to these materials, recycling can be difficult for some companies.

Even more, there is the case of the book cover. These covers come from various materials, including cloth, leather, plastic, and other non-paper binding materials. Eventually, you will realize that while some recycling companies accept some cover materials, they do not accept others. Some will even need you to remove the binding material before accepting it for recycling.

So, yes, you can recycle your books. However, it is not as easy as recycling ordinary paper. Even more, for ease, it would be best to remove the cover and binder. This way, there is no issue with acceptance. Alternatively, you can contact the recycling center in case there is any special instruction.

Can You Compost Unwanted Books?

Like we mentioned above, your notebooks come from paper. And you know that paper represents a great compost material. As such, you are wondering if you can compost those books you do not need anymore.

Well, just like paper, you can compost unwanted books. However, you will need to exercise more caution when doing this. This is because books consist of other bits and components.

As such, you’ll need to remove all these components. One place to start is the cover. You can leave cardboard covers. This is because they come from paper too. However, where they are shiny or glossy, you need to get them out. Typically, they are a result of metallic foil or plastic coating. In turn, they will not compost.

Also, you should remove plastic covers as they do not compost. This is the same with plastic spirals and metal combs that function as spines to the books. You will also need to get rid of other add-ons, such as elastic straps and ribbons. They are synthetic materials that have no place in your compost.

Additionally, you might want to avoid composting scrapbooks and sketchbooks. This is because they will include glues, sellotape, oil stains, and glues. Typically, these items will only contaminate your heap if they find themselves there.

Regardless, one thing to keep in mind is that books represent a great addition. This is because it soaks up moisture. In turn, it improves airflow and ensures that the mix is not too dense.

However, keep in mind that the best way to compost books is to tear the pages. This is because it takes a while for decomposition when you drop the book like that. Precisely, the bacteria responsible for decomposition will take time before getting to the inner pages.

Now, by tearing the paper out, you make this task easier for the bacteria. This way, you can count on fast and easy decomposition.

Can You Recycle Books for Money?

It is never a bad idea to want some extra cash. As such, one thing that might cross your mind is the money-making capacity of book recycling. Well, here’s good news.

You can recycle books for money. In fact, there a wide range of options that allow you to earn from book recycling. All you need to do is find one that does. In turn, you can sell your books for either cash or store credit.

However, in most cases, you will need those books to be in good condition. This is because these books are intended for use in literacy programs. They might also be directed towards second use by others. And when they are damaged, there is hardly any use for them to such an application.

Here are a few sites that accept old books for money:

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We Buy Books

Is Burning Books Bad for the Environment?

One common thought that people have is burning materials that they do not need. This might also have crossed your mind with your unwanted books. However, have you considered its impact on your environment? Well, if you have not, here is what you need to know.

Burning your books are bad for the environment. This is because this releases various toxins and chemicals into the environment. In turn, these toxins affect the earth through the air and sometimes water pollution.

Also, this reality becomes even worse as burning produces dioxin. This is a highly toxic and dangerous material that affects the quality of life. Worse, household burning results in higher production since there is no direct regulation concerning it. Then, this burning occurs at ground level. In turn, this makes it easier for this chemical to seep into groundwater and the earth.

Even worse, burning books can affect your health. The smoke you release from burning can result in rashes, headaches, nausea, among others. Even more, it can lead to asthma, emphysema, and cause other heart diseases.

So, without any doubt, the burning of used books is a bad choice. It has wide and far-reaching consequences on humans and the environment. As such, it would be best if you avoid doing so.

Your best option is to recycle your used books. And we will get the right to the ways to achieve this.

Source: Canva

What Do You Do with Used Books? (Ways to Reuse Old Books)

Like you already knew, your books will become a burden eventually. However, what you do with them after that is what’s important. Before, you might have had an excuse for improperly handling used books. Well, you do not anymore.

Here are some things to do with your used books. This way, you can give value to your community.

1. Donate the Books to A Local Library

Before you even think of thrashing your old books, you need to know this. While it might be less useful to you now, it can be valuable to others. As such, trashing it should be the last thing on your mind.

What you can then do is contact a local library. Then, discuss their donation policy. For instance, some libraries sell these books and generate revenue. Then, they invest it back into the library. Even more, others place it in circulation. Regardless of the method, you can be sure your book produces some value.

2. Begin Your Small Library

Another thing you can do is begin a small library. This is a great choice if you are an avid reader with loads of books. You can start a free library with little or no investment.

All you might just need is a website or contact information so people can easily reach you. You can always take it a step further by asking for donations from other individuals with used books.

3. Donate them to Literacy Initiatives

Now back to donations, you can also donate your used books for other good causes. One of them is to charitable institutions driven to reduce illiteracy. These various institutions receive your books and sell them. In turn, they donate the returns to fund other literacy initiatives across the world. Even more, some of these books get recycled for better use. The great news about this is that donation is easy and straightforward.

4. Create Envelopes

The next thing you can do with your used books is to create envelopes. And these envelopes can come in for a variety of uses. For instance, you can use them when giving cash gifts, birthday cards, or cash gifts.

All you need to do is find a preferable template. Afterward, you can then use the books to design what you would love. However, keep in mind that this option is best suited for your damaged old books. For instance, where your book has lost some of its pages.

5. Create Gift Tags

If you’ve got books that aren’t in the best shape, you can also use them to make gift tags. All you need to do is get some pages out of the books. Then you can cut out or punch your tags from it. Afterward, apply a dark marker to inscribe your message or note on the tag.

6. Decorate Using Your Books

You can also apply your used books as a decorative material. All you will need to do is redesign them to fit into a decorative device. For instance, you can create a headboard with your used books. Then, use them to decorate your bed.

Usually, your picture books will do the trick. You can use them in your children’s room; you can always check out cool ideas here.

7. Recycle Your Books

We’ve told you that you can recycle your books. Well, one thing that you can also do is go through the orthodox recycling process. All you need to do is place them in any curbside recycling bin. However, it would be best that you do this for damaged and unusable books.


Each time we keep hearing the advice, readers are leaders. This is why books have become a mainstay of our everyday lives. Unfortunately, they can lose their values with you. Regardless, this doesn’t mean that you should just dispose of it anyhow. You should know better that no one benefits from that.

One thing that works is recycling. And as we have shown to you, you can very well recycle your books. Even if you do not want to do that, there are other things to apply your used books. We’ve discussed all this in this article. So, get right to them and have fun.

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About Rinkesh

A true environmentalist by heart ❤️. Founded Conserve Energy Future with the sole motto of providing helpful information related to our rapidly depleting environment. Unless you strongly believe in Elon Musk‘s idea of making Mars as another habitable planet, do remember that there really is no 'Planet B' in this whole universe.