Green Recycling of Used College Textbooks

Most public schools provide students with the textbooks that they need.  However, at the college level, printed textbooks are purchased, and can cost up to several hundred dollars each.   If you or your child is a college student, you may find that after each semester ends, you have a pile of used textbooks.   Some students will want to hang onto these, but many will have no use for them.

Recycling textbooks is tricky because if they are hardbound, the spine and cover must be removed before paper recyclers can process them, and the glue used in the binding process can be a problem.   The Rumford Ave. Resource Recovery Center has 3 drop boxes for More Than Words – a local non-profit organization that accepts books, CDs, and DVDs.  They attempt to sell textbooks, but if they cannot be sold, the books are bundled and sold wholesale by the pound.  With some effort you can reduce your costs and keep the books in circulation, which is greener than recycling the paper they are printed on.

Planning ahead allows you to reduce costs as well as reducing the number of excess books at the end of each semester.   Buy used textbooks or rent them instead.  If the student knows others who have taken the course, it may be possible to borrow or buy the book from a student who has already taken the course.  Some college bookstores offer a limited number of used textbooks for sale.  You can usually find the used textbooks you need online at less cost.    Check Amazon and eBay for the best prices.  Just make sure that you are getting the proper edition, and that all required attached items (such as CD’s) are included with the used book.   Some college bookstores also offer rental books, which saves you money and eliminates the need to recycle the book after it is no longer needed.  Book rentals are also available through Amazon.  At the end of the rental period, you simply ship the book back to Amazon, or pay a fee to extend your rental period.

For books that you own, try to put the textbooks back in the hands of other students who need them when the course ends.  If the student has friends in the same program, consider offering to give or sell the used books to them, as this keeps the book in circulation, eliminating the need for recycling.   There are also great ways to sell used books via the internet.  If you have the time and patience, you can become an eBay or Amazon seller, and list your used textbooks for sale.  Otherwise, several companies, such as bookfinder.com, buy used textbooks online.   You can enter the ISBN number of your used textbooks, and the web site will bring up a list of companies that will buy your used textbooks, including the offer prices.  The price you get depends upon condition, and whether the book is marked up.  If the student does a lot of underlining or highlighting, the offer price drops considerably.  So if your strategy as a student is to resell a book, try to keep them in “as new” condition.   Instead of writing your name inside the front cover, use a removable post-it note to add your name and your phone number, as even this will improve the resale value.