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How to Recycle Books

Do you know how to recycle books? Until I started to pack up all my stuff to move across town, I had no idea. Last week, I asked you what 5 books you would keep if you had to give them all up, but I think I should address what happens to the rest of the books that don’t make it (gasp!).

There are TONS of different ways to recycle books – it’s just a matter of creativity.

How to Recycle Books


I love the idea of trading something old for something new – or just trading something you don’t want anymore for something that you do want. Book swapping seems like a great way of accomplishing that. Here are a few online book swapping sites that make this process easy:

Another cool option is BookCrossing. You give away your book for free BUT first you register your book and print out a label to stick inside. Then you leave it on a bus or a park bench and track it online to see where it goes – like a passport for novels! How cool is that!?

A more interactive way to do this is to throw a book swap party! I am a huge fan of this idea and think it’s a fun way to get together with your friends AND get new, awesome books = win-win.


As for selling books – this can be a bit trickier than swapping. I’ve had success on Amazon, but it was with textbooks or other books that people wanted to save money buying. For the average novel, you may not get what the book is worth, as many people sell books for pennies on Amazon and eBay.

More viable book selling options may be:

There are also used book shops that would love your books! Bright Light Books in Orlando will give you a credit in their store for giving them your used books. Contact local stores in your area to see if they have a similar system set up.


Giving away your unwanted books is a beautiful thing. Public libraries, charities like Goodwill and churches are always open to receiving books. Not only are you ridding yourself of unnecessary clutter, but you’re giving back your community.

Online communities like Freecycle also make it easy to find people to take your stuff. Just search for your city and post the books you’d like to give away.

There are great causes where you can donate your books to, like Books for Africa that promote literacy in impoverished regions.

Drop off at a Recycling Center

You’d think dropping a book in the paper recycling bin would be sufficient, but because books have binding materials, only special recycling centers will take them. You can find local drop off centers at Earth911 or 1800Recycling.

The 1800Recycling site will actually map you to the book recycling center you choose (nearest you). Pretty nice!

Use in Crafts

And now for my favorite book recycling option: CRAFTS! Pinterest has saved us, my friends. They’ve made it ridiculously easy to find awesome DIY projects, and they just so happen to have a ton of fun recycled book ideas.

My Faves (you can find all of these on my Crafts Pinboard):


book plant recycle books

recycle books plant


recycle books lamp

recycle books lamp


bookshelf of books recycle books

books on drawer recycle books

Re-Used Pages

pages runner recycle books

recycle books homemade envelopes

book rolodex recycle books

Purse & iPod Charging Station

book handbag recycle books

ipod charger station recycle books


recycle books furniture

Now that I know how to recycle books, the only thing left is to do it!

Share in the comment section: what ways have you found to recycle books?

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.