Reading Books More Sustainably

A few years ago, I was an avid reader, devouring at least one book every week. With a hectic college schedule, I am not as aggressive, but am trying to slowly pick reading back up again. There are many titles on my reading list and like many, I prefer reading physical books. This experience is far from being matched by the digital counterpart. Despite the clear benefits from an environmental perspective, I am not a huge fan of digital novels. If you face the same dilemma, here are a few options to enjoy a physical book without cognitive dissonance.

  1. Interlibrary Loan: The library is the first place to think of for borrowing a book. But what if you want to read a title that’s not available at the University’s collection? Luckily, the River Campus Libraries have an Interlibrary Loan program where you can request books from external libraries. I cannot count the number of times I’ve used this service to access favorite books. This is a great way to keep reading without ownership.
  2. Online Book Thrift Stores: Sometimes, you want to own a book and have the flexibility to annotate or re-read it. In this case, instead of buying them new, you can visit an online thrift shop and browse for used books at a much lower price. Those are items that would probably end up in a landfill; now, you’re giving them value again and reducing the production of paper!
  3. Little Free Library: The Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization that promotes book exchanges in local communities. They have many public bookcases across Rochester, including in Genesee Hall on River Campus. You can either leave a book or pick one, for free! Why not check it out and discover new novels? This is a great way to foster the sense of community and reduce your environmental footprint.


Written by Kelly Jean, Class of 2022

Image above: Little Free Library bookcase in Whipple Park, South Campus



Written by Kelly Jean, Class of 2022

Photo Credit: Unsplash

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