Books vs. eBooks

The bottom line: Read.

Recently, I posted a message in my community Facebook group that I have a little free library. I invited everyone to stop by and check it out. I thought it was a fairly innocuous post. Silly me. It seems that trolls abound.

A lady actually responded, “That’s not good for the environment. Get a kindle. We got one and we love it.”

It took everything in me not to fire back, “Okay, Karen. Not everyone can afford a kindle.”

But I was relatively good. I did politely point out that recirculating locally sourced used books is the ultimate form of recycling. It reduces the number of new books purchased, which hopefully causes publishers to reduce the number of hard copies they print. It also reduces the number of books heading for the landfill, as most books never get properly recycled, and if they’re printed on glossy paper, they can’t be.

I also mentioned that there are multiple studies indicating that reading a physical book helps you retain the information much better. And let’s face it, there’s nothing quite like cuddling up with a physical book. In particular, I think children get a lot of benefit from touching and feeling and gazing at the artwork on the page.

And it really is true that not everyone can afford electronics. Many people don’t have reliable access to the internet to download books even if they do have a kindle. These libraries get books into the hands of people who can’t afford them or otherwise don’t have access to them. They encourage people to read who may not have even considered it before. I am proud of the service my little free library provides to the community.

I’m not Kindle bashing, here. Every debate has its pros and cons. I know someone who has severe arthritis, and she finds the reduced weight of a kindle to be much less painful. Plus, you can increase the font size. And you can read a Kindle in the dark without needing a flashlight. And they certainly take up much less space. So there’s that.

But then, not all books are available on Kindle. And sometimes they mysteriously disappear. Or you run out of power while enjoying your eBook on the beach. And staring a screen for long periods has been found to disrupt your sleep cycle and cause depression and cognitive issues in children.

The environmental impacts of both formats is debatable, and comes with a lot of ifs. Lithium mining for batteries oftentimes employs slave labor, and it’s an environmental nightmare. And destroying Kindles causes toxins to enter the atmosphere and the ground water.

As far as carbon emissions, according to this article, it really depends on the number of books you actually read electronically as opposed to buying brand new hard copies. Books have a carbon footprint, too. They’re made from trees, and the production process for paper and the gas used in delivery and the number of books that get burned before ever being read… all that takes its toll.

But if, like me, you’re more inclined to borrow books from the library, whether it be public or little and free, that reduces a book’s impact exponentially. And if you don’t replace your Kindle every time a new version comes out, that helps, too. It’s all very complicated.

I guess for me, the bottom line is that everyone should read, as much as possible, in whatever format feels best. Just read. A literate and educated population is much more apt to save this planet, don’t you think?

I’m proud to say that my book is available in paperback, kindle, and deluxe color edition! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Mid-Month Marvels: FABSCRAP

They’re solving a big environmental problem.

A recurring theme in this blog is the celebration of people and/or organizations that have a positive impact on their communities. What they do is not easy, but it’s inspirational, and we don’t hear enough about them. So I’ve decided to commit to singing their praises at least once a month. I’m calling it Mid-Month Marvels. If you have any suggestions for the focus of this monthly spotlight, let me know in the comments below!

I love hearing about people who identify problems and then come up with ways to solve them. It gives me hope. It makes me feel as though we might survive as a species after all. So I was delighted when I read an article entitled, “The Fashion Industry Has a Waste Problem: This Non-Profit with 2,000 Volunteers Is Helping Solve It”.

According to the article, the EPA says that textile and fabric takes up 5% of our landfills, and it also turns out that fabrics account for 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. That’s a problem. A big one.

Enter Jessica Schreiber. She used to work at New York City’s Bureau of Recycling and Sustainability, and learned there that many of New York’s big names in the fashion industry were at a total loss as to what to do with all the scrap fabric that winds up on their cutting room floors. Ms. Schreiber viewed this as an opportunity.

FABSCRAP is Jessica Schreiber’s brainchild. It’s a nonprofit organization that collects this fabric waste from New York’s fashion houses, brings it to a warehouse, where volunteers sort it by fabric type. From there, it goes on to become insulation, carpet padding, furniture lining, and moving blankets.

More substantial pieces (if they’re non-proprietary) are sorted by type, weight, and color and can be found in their warehouse where students, artists, quilters, crafters, teachers and designers can get it for reuse. Just go there by appointment for pick up! Or, for those of us who don’t live in New York, you can go to their online store and buy yard packs and scrap packs at insanely affordable prices.

Incidentally, they can’t currently find a way to recycle spandex, lycra, or elastane. If you have any ideas for them, they’re definitely open to suggestion. Don’t hesitate to contact them.

Isn’t this organization a fabulous idea? Spread the word! And if you can, join me in supporting FABSCRAP by donating here.

An attitude of gratitude is what you need to get along. Read my book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Recyclart

I love the idea of combining two passions: art and recycling.

Every once in a while I have to do something creative. I wish I could engage in artistic pursuits more often, because it makes me feel alive and whole. Every time I make something, I wonder why I let so much time pass between projects. The experience is so fulfilling. But, you know, there’s so little time…

I am in the middle of a project that I’ve been working on sporadically for a few months now, and I guarantee that I’ll be blogging about it when it’s done. But in the meantime, with a little help from Lyn, a friend I’ve made through this blog, I’ve stumbled upon an incredible website that I’ll definitely be consulting before all future endeavors. It’s called www.recyclart.org.

This website is a treasure trove of exciting ideas. On its home page, it describes itself as “Creative ideas based on repurposed, recycled, reused, reclaimed, upcycled and restored things!” I’m getting excited just by browsing. I especially love the idea of combining two of my passions: art and recycling. I suspect it’s going to be my source of inspiration for Christmas gifts for years to come.

The website itself is a cool set up, because not only can you search by categories, such as clothes, garden ideas, and home décor, but you can also search by materials. For example, I looked up projects that you can make out of old books, and I found instructions for making clocks, Christmas ornaments, origami wall art like the kind shown below, a stool, a floating book wall, and a bed frame. How cool is that?

From this site you can learn how to make a pendant lamp from lace doilies, furniture from pallets, planters from license plates, benches from truck tailgates. You can even make baskets out of old t-shirts.

Okay, I need to back away from my computer before I get so jazzed up that I commit myself to about a decade of creativity. I tell you what, though, I’ll never settle for something mundane and off the shelf again.

Recyclart

Hey! Look what I wrote! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Textile Recycling

Here are some interesting statistics: According to the Council for Textile Recycling, the average US citizen throws away 70 pounds of clothing and other textiles annually. Textile waste accounts for 5 percent of all landfill waste. Only 15 percent of all post-consumer textile waste gets recycled each year.

I know I haven’t been recycling my clothing, shoes, sheets and blankets. I didn’t know you could. See, I’m cheap. I tend to wear clothes out until they are so raggedy that even a thrift shop couldn’t sell them. And even though I rarely eat catsup, somehow it seems to find its way to the front of every shirt I own, and then stubbornly refuses to leave despite my best cleaning efforts. So I’ve been tossing these things. Silly me.

Turns out you can still donate those unwearable rags to thrift shops and they will reap the benefits, because they can turn around and sell them to textile recyclers. And when those recyclers get these things, they then turn them into rags, insulation, carpet padding, and raw material for the auto industry. That’s brilliant.

The reason I discovered this is that I live in one of the coolest counties in the entire country, and they are promoting what they call “threadcycling”. It’s a program to educate people that this type of recycling can be done. I am all for keeping things out of the landfills, believe you me. So spread the word. We’re all in this together.

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Okay, so technically these are “new”. (Kids these days!) But what happens to them when they are worn out? (And how could you tell?)