How to Be a More Sustainable Reader

Hey, everybody! As some of you who follow me @smpearceauthor on social media might know, I’ve started to really make an effort to live more sustainably and limit my waste as much as possible. And I know many of you feel the same way! But, what about reading? What about that glorious feeling of bringing new books home from the book store?


Worry not! I have some tips for you today that will help you reduce your waste, and still devour books on the daily!

Electronic Readers

Electronic reading is a great way to read more sustainably. You’ll not only waste less paper, but also eliminate production and transportation waste, such as delivery truck fuel. As a bonus, ebooks are often much cheaper than their paper counterparts! Making the switch to read more digital books will help the environment, and save you money to purchase even more books with!


However, I know this isn’t an option for everybody. Some people might not have access to electronic readers, or may strongly dislike reading electronically. I honestly prefer paper books way more, largely for comfort. I tend to get headaches if I read a digital book for too long (I’ve tried all the settings, believe me), and I don’t really care for how e-readers feel to hold. I’m trying to read more electronic books when possible, but I just can’t sit and read one all day, like I often will with paper books.


It’s great if you love e-reading, and don’t worry if you don’t–there are many more ways to reduce your waste as a reader!


The library is another option if you have one within biking distance. It’s totally free, and you can get whatever kind of book you like best–paperback, hardback, audio, or ebook! Using your local library is an awesome way to save some money, and will help you to avoid increasing demand on paper books, while still supporting authors you love.


Libraries can even be helpful if you do still buy the book afterwards. By reading it at the library first, you can determine whether this is a book you truly love and want to keep reading. I don’t know about you, but I hate ending up with books that I didn’t even like or get into sitting on my shelf, and I always feel so wasteful when I do. Reading a book before buying the paper version for yourself will limit the amount of paper books you decide to buy, and you’ll have a shelf full of amazing reads!


If you don’t have a library nearby, or just really like the feeling of owning a book, there are still things you can do to live more sustainably as a reader. I try to use my school library as often as possible, however in summer I don’t have a library nearby, so I find other sustainable ways to read.

Thrift Shops

I love thrift shops. Even before I started focusing on a more “zero waste” lifestyle, I would go to the thrift shop quite often to look for new books. I get so many more books than I would in a retail store, and it has the bonus of being more environmentally friendly.


The books were already purchased and loved by someone else, so giving them a second life means that you aren’t wasting anything. The same here goes for any other items or clothing you might shop for! Thrift shopping is a smart way to save money and be more sustainable, so I definitely recommend giving it a go if you have one nearby!


It also doesn’t hurt to borrow books from a friend. You can read and return, no waste or expense added. This is also nice because you can connect with your friends over the books you’ve shared!


I used to do a trade-off every so often with one of my friends, where I’d read one of her favourite series and she’d read one of mine. It was a great way to save money and paper, as well as to bond over our beloved stories!


I do so much rereading. I get asked a lot why I do this, and there are a lot of reasons. Like thrift shopping, it never started as an environmental thing for me. I just didn’t have money to keep buying new books, and I really loved some of the stories I already had. I also find that rereading can open up your eyes to things you might not have noticed reading the book for the first time, and help you get a deeper feel for the story.


Rereading, like reusing is an excellent way to reduce your waste, because you both limit your consumption of new items and appreciate the value of the ones you already have.

Be Wise With Merch

I know this one can be hard, but it’s a super helpful step towards being more sustainable. Rather than buying a bunch of merchandise on impulse that you likely won’t use, or grabbing whatever bookish merch is free at conventions or signings, try to avoid getting things you won’t actually use. Free key-chains and other things that will likely end up in the garbage can be avoided, and this will actually help to reduce the clutter in your life.


This doesn’t mean you should never buy bookish merch to support your favourite authors or bookstagrammers, but just be mindful when you do. Is it something you will really use and bring value to your life? Or will it just end up in a dusty corner?


You can also buy more sustainable book merchandise when you have alternate options. Say you need a new bookmark, and you have the choice between a plastic one and a wooden one. The wooden one will biodegrade, whereas the plastic one will take hundreds of years or more to do that, and break into harmful micro-plastics in the process.


You could pick the wooden bookmark, or even better yet, you could repurpose something you already have! I already have some bookmarks kicking around, so I use those, but if I’m out or can’t find one at the moment, I’ll just stick a receipt or bit of scrap paper in. For those of you that enjoy crafts, why not design your own stellar bookmark from leftover craft supplies? Not only does repurposing household items eliminate the production and packing waste for the product, but it gets rid of the transportation pollution as well!

Here are two I cut out awhile ago from a photo that came with a picture frame:



If you really want merch, just make sure to consider: will it actually be useful to you? is there a more sustainable option for this product? Can I make this on my own?

Also remember that even if you aren’t buying a book from an author, and are instead borrowing or thrifting it, you can still show your support by sharing and reviewing their book online 🙂


In short, nobody is perfectly sustainable, but making better choices for yourself and the environment as a reader will help to eliminate waste and pollution. You can help reduce your waste a ton by thinking more before buying, and finding ways to limit your purchasing of new, paper books.


I love this quote from @Shelbizleee on YouTube, “You cannot do all the good the world needs, but the world needs all the good you can do.” She’s super inspiring and her channel has tons of great information about living sustainably, so be sure to check it out if you’re interested!


If you’re looking for a YA dystopian with lots of environmental themes, be sure to check out OUTLIERS! The link here will take you to a post with both the ebook and paperback links 😉

How do you live more sustainably? What are some things you think readers can do to reduce their impact?


Thanks so much for reading! I post new content on Saturdays, so be sure to follow and stay up to date! I’d love to hear what you think in the comments, or any questions you have! Feel free to contact me @smpearceauthor on social media, and at 🙂

Next week we’ll be talking about living sustainably as a writer, so don’t miss out!

Happy reading, everybody!


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