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Rejoicing in the Natural World

ThriftBooks, sustainability, and Earth Day

By William Shelton • April 21, 2023

"When in April the sweet showers fall…" Chaucer felt that the burst of green which follows the spring rain was an ideal time to set his epic unfinished poem The Canterbury Tales. Equally fitting is that Earth Day coincides with the same month. Since 1970 every April 22 has been set aside as a national day of peace and conservation for our natural resources. Many factors were catalysts in bringing this day of recognition into being. Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring, the advocacy of Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson, and the outcry resulting from a devastating oil spill near Santa Barbara, California. Bells of peace are rung around the globe, from Japan, Switzerland, and Germany each Earth Day. Here at ThriftBooks we too rejoice in the natural world we inhabit, and strive to ensure that our touch upon the globe be gentle and caring.

Books hold all the truth, folly, wisdom and lies conjured by man since charcoal was first applied to stone, or scratches were made in wet clay. We read them, absorb or reject their contents, and adjust our lives accordingly. How much thought do we apply to the fate and future of a book once we have read it? Do we have a moment of pause to ponder its future, or in the zeal for acquiring the next read, is the book casually tossed aside? In the "choose your own adventure" lifespan of a book it is we the reader who decides its next incarnation. Will the book go on to be cherished by other owners, or will one life be all that it touches? At ThriftBooks we think books deserve a second chance, which is why we make used books available and ensure they stay out of landfills. We want more books to stay books and find their next reader.

One way in which ThriftBooks tries to tread gently is the method we use to transport books to the readers who cherish them. Almost all of our books ship ground, the most carbon-efficient way to travel. This eco-friendly method minimizes environmental consequences. Meeting customer demand for faster transit times is an important part of our business, and we balance this priority with our conscientious desire to offer sustainable shipping. Likewise, truckloads of books come through our network of processing centers every day. Millions of these books are sold to customers worldwide or shipped in bulk internationally. Material we can't use is sent to recycling facilities, allowing ThriftBooks over the past five years to save 8.5 million trees, and reduce global CO2 by 125 million pounds. All of this makes ThriftBooks the greenest way to save on reading.

Each Earth Day folks find different ways of expressing their admiration and appreciation for our planet. Some plant trees, others go on scavenger hunts for plastics in their community. Landscaping with wildflowers or native plants whose water consumption aligns with local rainfall is another way of being planet conscious. Minor changes in the products we use at home can also be impactful. What we choose to reuse, or discard, are daily actions we take that can have long-range impacts upon the environment. Since 2003 ThriftBooks has offered its customers a sustainable way of reading through the resale of used books. We take pride in our contribution, and involvement with our global community, in celebrating Earth Day.

We human beings are but palpitating specks upon the surface of the Earth. We have our little moment of glory, and then fade away. Our planet endures as the millennia roll, often in spite of the creatures who inhabit it. Worthy of love, worthy of stewardship, our cradle for life, whose soil covers us in death, let us pause and cherish our home world.

Read more by William Shelton

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