Did you know that half the books printed in the UK are never read? Sounds unbelieveble, I know, but it gets worse! These books aren’t redistributed, but disposed of, usually pulped or left to rot in a landfill.
As a keen reader this left me feeling shocked and frustrated. But the real victim, as I discovered, is the environment. If we take carbon dioxide emissions into consideration, the UK publishing industry effectively pumps 600,000 tonnes of the harmful gas into our atmosphere from the 200 million books printed every year. That’s the equivalent of putting 100,000 extra cars on our roads.
This huge waste of paper has a major effect on our forests too. Worldwide each year, millions of hectares of ancient forest are logged. That’s the same as an area of forest the size of a football pitch being destroyed every two seconds. With a gob-smacking 80 per cent of the world’s original forests severely damaged or destroyed something has to be done!
What can we do?
Now, imagine if there was some way to prevent all these perfectly good books going to waste and at the same time help cut down on the need for those industries that contribute towards global warming. Well Healthy Planet’s new Books for Free outlet in Basildon does just that. The Books for Free project has just taken over an empty shop in the local community to provide local residents with access to literature and stop thousands of books from going into landfill.
Healthy Planet’s founder Shaylesh Patel said: “When books are sent to landfill there’s a financial cost to the community and the environmental cost is even greater. We don’t have to waste these resources – people can make use of empty buildings and learn from books even when times are tight. This initiative saves everyone money – councils, residents, and commercial landlords who receive a discount on their business rates through hosting us intheir shops.”
Come and visit us at 21 Town Square, Basildon, SS14 1BA Books for Free on either Tuesdays and Thursdays. Londoners can get their books for free from Kensington High Street and outlets are opening as quickly as we can find volunteers to fill them.