Please stop throwing your old Dan Browns and Fifty Shades in the bin

Whether you’re a fan of a thriller, a sucker for romance, or just like to stick to the facts – there is a book for everyone to get stuck into this World Book Day – but have you ever stopped to think just how sustainable the book in your hands is?

With two in five Britons reading for pleasure weekly, bibliophiles may have to change how they consume their media of choice to help save the planet says one waste and recycling company.

UK waste collection company have read up on the facts to find out how we can make this hobby less wasteful on the environment after discovering that the book industry is on-track to cut down 3.4 billion trees, an area four times the size of Wales.

Mark Hall, spokesman for waste experts, says: “The sad fact is that physical books create a significant environmental impact, from the deforestation they take to be made, to the endless heaps of Dan Browns that end up unnecessarily at landfills.”

“We need to reconsider how we can enjoy this simple pleasure in ways that can be better for the environment, while also still being able to get lost in the pages of a good book.”

Paper or digital?

Technology has created more ways for us to consume media than ever before – so reading your favourite book has come a long way from borrowing dog-eared copies from your local library.

People can now get their fix of fact or fiction in a whole range of ways from e-books to audio books, by easily downloading books to read and listen to on the go.

But just how many people are switching from flicking through the pages to these new digital options? Divert conducted a poll over 1,000 people and found that only 25% of readers are likely to use an e-book such as a kindle to read, and less than 10% would listen to an audio book.

This is significantly less than those who still prefer a physical copy of a book, with 75% of readers still choosing paperback and hardback books as their preferred way to read.

Sophia from Leeds says – “I find carrying my kindle to work is a lot easier that bringing an actual book, and I find the downloads are often cheaper too. The battery lasts for ages, and it’s like having the whole library in my pocket.”

Meanwhile Maz from Swansea disagrees – “I think I’m just as addicted to buying books as I am reading them, it’s all about having a good look around a bookshop and the smell of the pages!”

Divert’s Mark Hall says “The digital revolution is seeping its way into the book world, but it seems that people still love the feel of turning the page and holding a physical book.”

“But if you prefer the aesthetics of cultivating a beautiful book collection, there are lots of ways to build the bookshelf of your dreams in a way that is better for the planet – and your pocket – while still being able to show off just how well read you are.”

Preloved page-turners

An excellent way to get the kick of collecting physical books is to shop for preloved copies from charity and second-hand book shops.

Books are one of the most donated items to charity shops up and down the UK. And it’s not just multiple copies of Fifty Shades of Grey you’ll find, they often have a wide range spanning from the classics, all the way to recent releases and even comic books.

“Most of the time the books haven’t even been opened, so you can snap up the latest must-read in mint condition, for a fraction of the price,” says Hall.

Once you’ve read your nearly-new book, you can always re-donate it again to make room for new reading material, or you can organise book swaps with friends and family.

If you find that your battered old books are beyond the point of no return, it is possible to recycle them, but this process isn’t as straightforward as you might think.

Hall: “The glue that is used to bind the pages of books together is the biggest problem here, and the spine has to be guillotined off at the recycling centre.”

Because it’s so labour intensive, most kerbside collections won’t take books in your recycling bins, so it’s always better to try to reuse and donate them as much as possible.

“There are plenty of ways we can continue to enjoy reading without the needless binning of good books. I for one am planning to do my bit by passing on my well-loved Mills and Boon books to a local charity shop and downloading the rest of the collection on my Kindle.”