How to Recycle Books | Six Great Ways to Give Your Books Eternal Life!

So I have two obsessions/passions in life – one is, of course, waste reduction and recycling – the other is a much more simple pleasure, and that is books! I think some people would call me a bibliophile because the sight of a bookshop or a library or even a pile of books gets my heart racing, and the likes of Waterstone’s, and even better, a dusty old independent bookshop, is my idea of heaven! My dream would be to have a coffee shop full of vintage upcycled furniture, and books, hundreds of them, where people could come to relax and read! One day…in the meantime, here is my Waste Not Want Not Guide to making the very most of every single chapter, every single page, and every single word of beauty!

Sadly, books cannot actually be recycled – the glue that binds them together prevents this at the moment! So here are a few ideas as to what you might want to do with your books to prolong their life!  A book, after all, should live forever!


One of the most beautiful things about a book is its ability to go on a journey!  From the moment it is bought and read, enjoyed, reflected on, to the moment the pages finally turn to dust, it will have passed from hand to hand, reader to reader – it is one product that was probably unintentionally destined to be recycled over and over again!  So if you have a book that you have loved, pass it friends, family, on social media, wherever. Talk about it, engage people in the pleasure that you have experienced and pass it on!  That said, when I have read a book I REALLY love, I have to hide it in the depths of my bookshelf, and jealously keep it!  I did that recently with The Miniaturist. But for the most part, I pass my books on. I particularly love it when I find a book that people have written in saying who they are and when and where they read it! Some of those journeys can be quite remarkable!

You could also check out Facebook for book exchange groups or even set one up yourself locally.


There are several sites online where you can simply exchange your books! Great idea! A win/win for everybody! Check out Book Crossing which is lovely as it also enables you to track your book’s journey or Book Mooch.


For whatever cause you fancy! I did it as part of a Jumble Sale for our school last year, and I got excited by every single donation.  People love book sales, it means that they can add to their children’s libraries or pick up obscure titles, very very cheaply, and it is a fabulous way to raise money for a good cause. For more information on how I organised our Jumble Sale, here you go!


Obviously, the book is a staple of the charity shop – I think the most common reason people pop into a charity shop is to have a browse of the books, so it is vital that they keep their stocks healthy, as that then leads people to spend more money while they are there.  Some charities, such as Oxfam, the Red Cross, even have specialist bookshops to make sure they make the most money they can – often people have no idea of the second-hand value of their books, and this ensures that everything is sold at its appropriate value.  You will often see book banks at your local recycling facility so it is a simple job to donate them.


Now I wouldn’t normally suggest this because my first choice would always be to give your books to charity, but it is better than throwing them in the bin! If you Google recycle books, you will be met with a raft of options if you’ve got some books you would rather sell. There are also lots of sites now buying books – they may only give you 5p a book, but that’s better than nothing! Some of them have accompanying apps, where you enter the books ISBN (printed on the back of every book) and it gives you a value! It’s quite fun because you never know if you will find a valuable one!  We Buy Books is one, and their app even has a scanner to scan that ISBN.


So the other option is to create something beautiful out of unwanted books! Here’s a great article with some lovely ideas, and of course Pinterest is awash with more!

I personally can think of about half a dozen other things I would like to do with books – supply them to schools in Africa, Asia and anywhere else they don’t have any, set up book exchanges in railway stations, hospitals, and even telephone boxes in villages, but at the moment, these are your options.

If you have any other ideas, then please do get in touch – we’d love to hear!


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