Books and papers

The beauty of books

The tradition of the written word on the page, transcending time, space, language and culture, must surely be one of the touchstones of human civilisation. Other creatures attach meaning to sounds in marvellous ways, but surely it is writing that makes us unique.

It is hard to find reliable figures on book ownership as there is wide divergence between and within populations. About 100 per household in the UK seems realistic. Yet, sadly, a 2017 report from the Literacy Foundation shows that, among disadvantaged UK children, one in eight doesn’t own a single book. Apart from the clear need to redress such inequality, we must create access to materials, both through schools and also libraries.

Check out our brilliant Libraries in Milton Keynes …

Can one have too many books ? Many of us keep books that we are unlikely ever to read again. Should we consider passing them on via charity shops, giving them to kith and kin, via Freegle, or selling them on Ebay ? There is also Bookcrossing, an online service where you can register donated books and leave them in selected public places. People take them for free, and can then register online where the books now live. Leave them at a transport hub and they can turn up almost anywhere.

If you are going to buy a new book, there are choices to be made …

Paper or EBook ? According to “How Bad Are Bananas ?”, a typical paperback has a carbon footprint of about 1Kg, whereas an EBook reading device is roughly 36Kg. Creating and distributing an EBook online is a minimal addition. By comparison, many of the cheap paperback books printed never get sold and are recycled without ever being read.

Be mindful of where you buy your new book; try to support local and ethical suppliers. Local bookshops are being killed off by online discounting.

Newspapers and journals

The question of online or paper arises again. Online is often cheaper and simpler; surely a lower carbon footprint. Also, it’s easier to find articles in online files saved to a device, rather than rummage in the paper bin. For newspapers, visiting their website may suffice, perhaps making a donation to support your preference. In the case of journals, can they be passed on to friends who might find articles interesting ?

One minor point – we all place used paper in the recycling – don’t we. But perhaps we should consider whether it might serve some additional purpose on the way. Keep some for wrapping, packing, note paper or children’s use.

We can also think before we print – cutting down on energy use, ink and paper.

Junk Mail

Does all this junk really work as advertising ? Can we recall a time when we have bought a particular product after seeing a junk mail leaflet on our doormat ? How many pizzas can any household eat ? How much gets wasted ? Why is my neighbour’s cat so fat ? 🍕 🍕 😸

A “No Junk Mail please” notice or sticker on your letterbox can help cut down the volume, but many organisations ignore them.

Another idea is to register with the Mail Preference Service. Their database is used by many responsible organisations to avoid sending stuff through the post to people who are registered.

The Bottom Line

Enjoy your books
Cherish your books
Share your books