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Libraries inspire their communities through green inititatives

Via American Libraries Magazine: “Michigan State University (MSU) Library Environmental Committee (LEC). LEC supports an impressive array of eco-initiatives, including diversion—the rate at which material is removed from the waste stream through recycling, composting, or reuse. MSU Libraries surpassed a campuswide goal for a 70% diversion rate by 2017. By comparison, nationwide, less than 35% of municipal solid waste is recycled or composted, according to a 2016 Environmental Protection Agency report.  Still, library staffers push themselves to improve. In 2016, during a two-month intensive waste-reduction campaign called Zero Waste Mania, the library’s diversion rate reached 84%. It achieved this simply by improving its signage, adjusting the placement of its bins, and heavily promoting reuse and recycling. In some cases, diversion has inspired one-of-a-kind reuse: for instance, flower planters made from old bunk beds. The MSU library offers a model for another sustainability measure: deaccessioning books. Not much literature exists around what happens to books once libraries weed them. MSU Libraries launched its own data analysis, and partnered with the MSU Surplus Store—a shop where the public can buy things like dorm furniture and books that might otherwise be sent to a landfill—to either reuse or recycle 100% of the material withdrawn from the library collection or collected from public donation bins. The Surplus Store staff sells or debinds and recycles the texts. Through online and onsite sales, the Surplus Store has sold about $150,000 worth of books, and have debound and recycled about 90 tons of materials…” [Note – libraries are throwing millions of books into the trash – the consequences are more than environmental.]

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