Despite the common idea that you need to be wealthy to really be green, there are many ways to both save money and be environmentally friendly. One of those ways, a personal favorite of mine, is buying used instead of new. Especially when you are buying books. Choosing to buy a used book rather than a new one saves a tree, lessens the impact from printing the book, and if you buy it from a local used book shop lowers the impact that shipping has on the environment.
But what about renting books? The Netflix CEO is taking the rental idea from movies to textbooks. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars buying new textbooks for a class you will only be in half the year you can now rent them for a fraction of the cost. It is definitely something I wish had been around when I was in college.
With all the college students needing a stack of text books twice each year, it doesn’t take much to see how many trees are being cut down to fill that need. Even when buying used students are often held back by the number of books they can find as not all students from previous classes sell their books back immediately and not all classes are offered each year or term. Being able to rent a textbook for your class and send it back to be used again is a great idea to cut out the new book costs, both monetarily and environmentally.
However, there is still the shipping costs you should consider. Packaging and fuel are still big environmental issues that shipping any package has. For renting textbooks from Netflix this comes up twice, in being shipped to you and you sending it back when done. It is also faced when students buy used textbooks online and resell them online later.
The financial costs may make this well worth it for most college students, as well as the bonus of saving trees from being turned into more new books. But how do the shipping costs, in terms of paper packaging and fuel used by the postal service, factor into this? Though, the money saved by renting books could mean students would have more money to spend on real food, instead of the prepackaged, low cost, unhealthy junk foods.
This is one of those areas that is not entirely black or white, environmentally speaking. I would love to hear your opinions on it!