Ya got me. I am terribly, terribly biased. As a former librarian, and a lifelong library aficionado, I’ve been raving about the beauty and necessity of libraries for aye! But in the land of zero waste, libraries are a gold mine.
Before starting this journey to zero waste, I regarded paper as one of the most innocuous types of waste we can produce. Yes, it costs us trees, but it’s recyclable right? Well, yes but…there’s a but…Did you know paper is recyclable only 4-6 times before the fibers are so over-processed that it’s no longer recyclable? Or that the paper production industry is wildly polluting. Or that, of the 4 billion trees cut down every year, 35% are directed towards the paper industry? Not to be a buzz kill or anything…
But that’s where the library comes in! Instead of all of us buying our own copies of the same John Grisham novel, we can all rent the same novel from the library FOR FREE. Or DVDs or CDs. Depending on your local library, they probably have the latest issues of your favorite newspapers and magazines for rent, again FOR FREE. And, to go truly zero paper, many libraries offer FREE Kindle book rentals via platforms like Overdrive which allow you to download practically any popular book immediately to your e-reader or computer from the laziness of your sofa. FOR FREE. How beautiful is that?
If you need any help figuring out how to download books for free, ask a librarian. They are literally being paid to wait around for you to ask them that question. Or if you need a hard to find book, a librarian can order that book from any of the other libraries in their system (which can be state or nationwide) just for you because libraries share all of their materials with each other so we all have access to it. FOR FREE.
Some libraries even offer discounted passes for local museums and attractions. Other libraries allow non-traditional items to be checked out, like board games, musical instruments and tools. My local library has a ukulele and a ping pong game set on loan (among other things).
You know how much the average paperback fiction book at Barnes and Noble costs? $14.50. The average hardcover? Around $24.
You know how much the average library card costs? FREE!