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Every Day is Earth Day at Your Local Library



This week is Earth Week. All around the planet people are planting trees, participating in local cleanups, making goals to eliminate single-use plastics, and more. In my own household, we’re celebrating Earth Week by planting a few trees, starting our first compost pile, and getting our garden up and running. These are just a few practices that contribute to a healthy planet, and while it may not be the first eco-friendly initiative that comes to mind, libraries are another.

 

Public libraries are environmentally friendly by nature. They promote resource sharing by allowing multiple people to access physical materials such as books, magazines, DVDs, puzzles, hotspots, and a growing collection of items in Wickson’s “Library of Things,” thereby saving trees, reducing consumption, lowering the community carbon footprint, and minimizing waste. Most libraries also accept book donations which further extends the lifecycle of these items.  

 

According to the Pew Research Center the average person reads twelve books a year. A single tree produces roughly 50 books. This means that four people can save one tree per year by checking out books from the library instead of buying them. At a slightly larger scale, a small community like Frankenmuth could save over 1,000 trees per year by utilizing their local library! The state of Michigan could save 2.5 million trees per year, and the United States could save a whopping 83 million trees in a single year. Together, libraries all over the world are making an enormous difference, and when you tap into the extent of their resources, so do you.

 

Marie-Noëlle Keijzer of WeForest says, “Trees are the best solution to climate change. We are hopeful because entire nations, as well as a growing number of corporates, are taking a stand: pledging to protect and restore the world’s degraded forests. The world is starting to recognize the power of trees.”

 

Tapping into the library’s resources and utilizing this “lend and let live” initiative by checking out a book or requesting one from your interlibrary loan system is a simple yet effective way for patrons to consciously benefit the Earth and save trees.

 

In case you’re still doubting the power of one tree, here are a few examples of how big an impact a single tree can have:

·         A single tree can capture 3.5 pounds of asthma related air pollutants—like ozone, dust and particulate matter—per year.

·         A single large tree can produce approximately 260 pounds of oxygen per year.

·         A single tree can reduce peak summer temperatures by 2-9 degrees Fahrenheit.

·         A single tree has a net cooling effect of 10 room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours per day.

 

Libraries also conserve energy and resources by investing in eBooks and Audiobooks, and online databases, which have little to no impact on the environment as they eliminate the need for paper and physical transportation. As of January 21, 2023, readers checked out 1 billion titles through the Libby App. That’s 20 million trees saved!


There is so much power and potential in one tree, in one library, in one person choosing to “lend and let live.” In celebrating Earth Week, it's evident that small actions like planting trees or utilizing public libraries directly influence our planet's well-being. Borrowing books instead of buying them is a simple way for libraries to contribute to the global effort to conserve resources and work toward a sustainable future. Happy reading!

 

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