How Book Lovers Can Reduce Their Waste

zero waste reading

Zero Waste Reading

Raise your hand if you want to learn about zero waste reading?!

I love books. I mean to say that I not only love to read books, but I really love actual physical books: the cover design, the feel of the pages, and the smell  is unmatched. It would be a struggle for me to convert to some sort of electronic reader. And to be honest, it’s been a real predicament for me in experimenting with a more sustainable, zero waste lifestyle. These past few days, I’ve started packing boxes for my move to Georgia. My massive amount of books has been a bit of a packing nuisance. I live in a 500 square foot duplex and live mostly with the bare minimum. However, books are a luxury I just can’t resist!

Luckily, I’ve come up with a few solutions to my Amazon book shopping obsession. Here are some easy ways you can still read all the books but maintain a zero waste lifestyle!

Shopping Used Book Stores

This is definitely my favorite way to book shop. There’s a perfect little used book store in my neighborhood here in Houston called Kaboom Books that I could spend hours in perusing. I am always happy to get lost in the that special little shop. This doesn’t exactly help with my plan to minimize my consumption and avoid clutter in my home, but it’s an improvement to my online book shopping habit I think. Added bonus, you can usually find books for cheaper when you shop the used book stores!

Little Free Library

My newest love is the Little Free Library that popped up down the street from where I live. If you haven’t heard of the concept, it’s basically a free standing wooden structure “library” that’s just a bit bigger than a mailbox. These libraries are run on the honor system. You leave a book of your own in the box and can take a book of your choosing. The Little Free Library in my neighborhood is shaped like a yellow submarine. It’s absolutely adorable. Each library is designed, painted, and built a little differently. I love this! I’ve saved quite a bit of money, and it’s always exciting to see what others will leave behind. This has been a good system for me, because instead of collecting piles of books, I’ve been trading. You can go to the Little Free Library website to find libraries in your neighborhood. If there isn’t one in your neighborhood, you could even consider setting up your own!

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Public City Library

Now my least favorite book scavenging system is definitely the public library. I don’t know if it’s just my city, but I feel like the books I want are often not available or constantly checked out because of their popularity, not to mention the odd hours of operation. It’s definitely a good alternative towards a more zero waste lifestyle, but not my preference for sure.

*Update* I’m a public library loving convert. I think it really was just the library in my town at the time that wasn’t that great. I now live in Athens, Georgia, and I absolutely love our local library system here. There are always plenty of good books to choose from. Also, I’m able to search for books online at home and put the books I want on hold before I visit the library. This has saved me so much time which is especially beneficial being a new mom. We’ve also really loved picking out books for baby Vasco at the library. He’s only six months old but already is passionate about books like his mom 🙂

The public library isn’t just great for finding books to read, but often times there are free local events going on there throughout the month. I can’t wait to take Vasco to story time at the library when he’s a little older!


When you can’t find that newly released book by your favorite author at the library or used book store, purchase the e-book! As I admitted before, I don’t love reading books on electronic readers, BUT if there’s a new book I really want to read and can’t find it secondhand, sometimes I’ll break down and buy the digital version.


This post contains Amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Another one of my favorite ways to read books zero waste style is to LISTEN to them! I have loved listening to books on Audible this past year. It’s a great option for listening in the car. Sometimes I also like to listen while working around the house. Being a new mom, I don’t have as much free time as I used to for reading all the books so this way I can multi-task, reading and working. I especially love when I find an audiobook that has been recorded by the author of the book. It’s an extra special reading experience getting to hear the author’s voice tell their own story! Audible also will let you exchange an audiobook if you get started and realize you don’t like the narrator or even the story itself.

Our library here in Athens allows you to also borrow e-books and audiobooks. Check to see if your library might offer the same program!

Have you seen the Tiny Yellow Bungalow resources page? I have a huge list of all of my favorite zero waste & sustainable reads!

Finally, what are some of your best zero waste reading tips?!

You might also enjoy these blog posts from Tiny Yellow Bungalow!

composting for rookies

beginner’s guide to zero waste

Author’s Note: This blog post was originally posted in August 2015, but I’ve updated some information and want to share it with my newest Tiny Yellow Bungalow followers. Enjoy y’all! !

zero waste bibliophile

18 thoughts on “How Book Lovers Can Reduce Their Waste

  1. I absolutely love the Little Free Librarys! I wish there were some in my city.
    I, too, can’t help myself to buying a tangible book, they’re just better. I stare at a computer screen all day for work so reading a book on a screen is just not an option! 😉

    1. I really hope the Little Free Library trend will continue to spread! I feel lucky to have four in my neighborhood 🙂 Maybe you could start one in your city!!

  2. Your library may have an e-book lending program like Overdrive through which you can borrow books online without visiting the library.

    1. Yes! Our library does have an e-book lending program. We are also able to borrow audiobooks for the library, it’s so useful!

  3. I saw my first little free library yesterday! It warmed my heart. 🙂 I feel like books are a zero waste item anyway, especially if you get the kind that you will put on your shelf for years’ worth of reference. My zero waste recommendation would be to purchase the reference books that you will be using for years to come, and read digitally the ones that are read and forget it types, like novels (unless you absolutely love the novel). 🙂

    1. That’s a great tip, purchase reference books and for fun books, read digitally!

  4. Such good tips! I love public libraries!

    1. Me too! There are so many interesting books you can find at the library 🙂

  5. We had a little mini-lending library in my last town. It was by the community pump house, and there were always some great finds in there! This was a great reminder of simple and inexpensive ways to find good books! 🙂

    1. I love that! It’s always fun to see what books other people leave behind!

  6. Some great ideas here – I’m afraid that I also love physical books and have way too many. I don’t think I’ve seen a little free library in our area, plan to go looking for it though!

    1. Little Free Libraries has a website with a map showing where all the libraries are located, maybe you have one in your town!!

  7. I love all the opportunities you have found for finding more affordable and free books! I wish we had a little free library but we live in the boonies. Enjoy those books!

  8. There is a free little library in my town. The kids walking to elementary and middle school get to enjoy choices from there too. I also have a book obsession, and had to majorly downgrade when we moved from Oregon to Texas several years ago. I second the comment above – keep reference books and rent or listen to read and forget ones. Since my bookshelves are full, I have a rule…if I bring a new book in – I must donate one to the library to make room.

  9. I’ve been noticing a lot of free libraries in my city lately that are almost empty. I want to round up some books and drop them off. I love the idea!

  10. I have a little free library that I donate to all the time. It’s such a nice touch for our neighborhood. Thanks for all the great ideas!

  11. I LOVE the library. We have an app called Libby that makes it super easy to download ebooks and audiobooks. And I totally put stuff on hold too, so that I can grab and run with all the kids.

  12. Has anyone considered free ebook sites like PDFdrive and Project Gutenberg?
    A near limitless number of books for entertainment or reference for download to a volume no bigger than a thumbdrive.

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