Examining Sustainability at Barnard

Book after Barnard

After a book is in bad condition, Barnard takes one of two routes.


If the book is in a condition beyond repair, Barnard recycles it through the local New York City recycling program. 1  A sanitation truck picks up the paper recycling from Barnard and delivers it to a recycling plant, where the paper is sorted into piles by type. The separated paper is then washed to remove inks and large non-fibrous contaminants like plastic, staples, and glass. The fibers are cleaned and filtered through screens until contaminants are removed and the ink can be removed from the paper in a de-inking process involving more cleaning and chemicals. Next, the paper is mixed with chemicals and water to create a "slurry" which can be fed into a papermaking device to create sheets of new paper. Finally, the paper is left to dry and be rolled up to cut and resell.  2 3


If the book, for example, Race After Technology, could still be used a bit, Barnard would mail it to Betterworld Books, which is an online used book seller which has collected over 300 million used books from donation bins and book drives across from 1,800 college campuses and 2,000 libraries in the United States. The book would then either be recycled or repaired and resold (Betterworld Books). If Race After Technology were resold, another book would be donated by Betterworld Books through a nonprofit organization like Books for Africa or Feed the Children.5

While sending the books overseas by air or boat is not the best for the environment, Betterworld Books contributes greatly to social programs while also diverting millions of books from landfills: the proceeds from the resold book would then go to Betterworld Books’ Annual Literacy Grants and to non-profit literacy partners such as Room to Read, the National Center for Families Learning, and the UK National Literacy Trust. 6 Through these organizations, a book like Race After Technology could be read by people in the United Kingdom, where Betterworld Books donates books to the National Literacy Trust. Or, the book could be sent to Burundi, where Betterworld Books' partner Books for Africa works with the Burundi English Book Project By sending their used books to Betterworld Books, Barnard and other universities both reduce the amount of waste they contribute to landfills and support education and literacy worldwide.

  1. “Recycling Rules.” Recycling Rules · NYC311, City of New York, 2020, portal.311.nyc.gov/article/?kanumber=KA-02013.
  2. “How Paper Is Recycled.” Recycling Guide, The Guides Network, 18 Apr. 2018, www.recycling-guide.org.uk/science-paper.html.
  3. “Understanding The Paper Recycling Process.” ISustain Recycling, 7 Feb. 2018, isustainrecycling.com/understanding-the-paper-recycling-process/.
  4. Our Impact. 2018, about.betterworldbooks.com/impact/.
  5. Wooten, Kristi York. Can Buying a Book Help Kids and the Environment? 7 Dec. 2017, www.huffpost.com/entry/love-to-read-help-kids-wh_b_927110.
  6. “Literacy Grants.” Better World Books Cares, cares.betterworldbooks.com/grants/.
  7. “For Schools.” National Literacy Trust, literacytrust.org.uk/communities/manchester/schools/.
  8. “Books For Africa, Administrative Headquarters.” Books for Africa, www.booksforafrica.org/donate/donate-project/burundi/burundi-english-book-project-zenon-ndaruvukanye-burundi.html.




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