Last week, Green Friday got buried under a mountain of work as I tried meet a deadline. Not only did I get the job done on time, I got it done early. Did you feel the earth momentarily stop spinning on its axis in shock when I sent the files to my client four days before the deadline?
I won’t be able to post tomorrow, so I’m doing Green Friday on Thursday this week.
We’re a family of readers and our house is already full of books. We’re also heavy-duty library users. So any book I actually plunk down my money for—especially new—has to meet certain criteria. It has to be something that will get read more than once, or that we can share with someone else, or that requires writing or drawing in, or that I need for my work, or that we’ll refer back to over and over.
For me, it comes down to this: I don’t want to spend my money or the world’s trees on something I will read once and then stick on a shelf for 20 years (although I think the insulating value of the books we have could save us quite a bit in heating costs if we stacked them all up along the outside walls). If I can borrow a book instead of buying it, I will. If it turns out that I absolutely love it or need to have it on hand, then I’ll buy it, preferably second hand.
When I am going to buy a particular book, I always check first with Better World Books, an online seller that sells both new and used books. One of their goals is to demonstrate that a business can make a profit while having a positive environmental and social impact.
They collect unwanted books from thousands of universities and libraries, many of which would have otherwise ended up in landfills or spent years in storage facilities. They buy carbon offsets to make their shipping carbon neutral. The shelving in their warehouse is reclaimed library shelving.
And they’re devoted to literacy, which, in terms of social causes, is my “thing.” Every sale generates a donation to a literacy organization. On their website they say “So far [since 2002], the company has converted more than 11 million donated books into $4.5 million in funding for literacy and education. In the process, we’ve also diverted more than 6,000 tons of books from landfills. . . . [And] we’ve donated nearly one million books to partner programs around the world.”
Not only that, but their prices on new books are often as low as or lower than other online sellers (at least the ones here in Canada), and they have reasonable shipping costs (free in the States—can you get more reasonable than that?—and $2.97 per book anywhere else). Every time I’ve ordered from them, I’ve been happy with their service.
Please note that I have received no money, free books, credits, or other perks for writing this review (darn!).
I’m always on the lookout for businesses like this. If you know of any, tell me about them!