Last month, we brought up the idea that a circular economy is a theoretical model for achieving an economy that focuses on reducing waste. Ultimately, the goal of a circular economy is to reduce the amount of “new” stuff we buy and the amount of waste we produce so that we aren’t sending the majority of items that we purchase straight to the landfill when we are done with them. This current economic model is referred to as the “take, make, waste” model and is not sustainable in the long run. Eventually, we will run out of raw materials to “take” and places to put the “waste”. A circular economy reuses materials so that we don’t need to keep “taking” raw materials, which also helps reduce “waste”.
As part of this, we talked about the 3 R’s (Reducing, Reusing, Recycling) in January and in future installments, we’ll talk about the new version of this, which has 9 R’s! All of these R’s are designed to help us get more life out of an item. We’ve also told you that you may already be participating in a circular economy without even realizing it. One major way that you may be participating is through books.
How do we ensure that multiple people get use out of the same book? If you’re thinking about a library, BINGO! Libraries are a fabulous example of how a single item can be reused many times, by many different people. Instead of going out and purchasing a new book for personal use, which will likely sit on your bookshelf and only be read a handful of times, you can go and check that book out from the library. The fact that one copy of a book belonging to a library can replace hundreds of copies that would need to be purchased by individuals, fits perfectly into the concept of a circular economy.
In addition to traditional libraries, Little Free Libraries have been popping up all over the place. These do not require a library card and can be found in parks, outside private residences, inside businesses, and around community centers. In St. Michaels, you can find one in Perry Cabin Park and across from Back Creek Park on Tilden Street. Another one can be found outside a private home on Railroad Avenue and another on Locust Street.
In Easton, you can find one along the new Rails to Trails Spur, a few blocks from the hospital. You can also find one inside the Bāgery, one on Standish Street, one on Brookletts Ave, and one on Stewart Street. An incomplete list can be found here: https://littlefreelibrary.org/map/
Little Free Libraries are a great way to keep books in circulation. If you’ve got books to get rid of, simply find a LFL with room and place them inside. If folks are interested, they’ll take your books home and hopefully replace them with books of their own. The idea here again, is to ensure that items you no longer want or need, are given the opportunity to go to someone else who may want them. And, if there are any titles in the Little Free Library that sound interesting to you, you can take those books home and keep them forever or read them and return them.
If you love the concept of a Little Free Library but want something on a larger scale, The Book Thing of Baltimore is worth a visit. This book warehouse is in the Abell Neighborhood of Charles Village and you can take as many books as you want during their open hours. However, thanks to the lingering impacts of the COVID 19 pandemic and the financial strain many nonprofits experienced, they are currently only open once per month on either Saturday or Sunday. Masks are required and they only let 80 people in each hour for 55 minutes of browsing. Hopefully, they will get back to less structured browsing at some point, but it can still be a fun trip. Just around the corner from them is the Peabody Heights Brewery and the 32nd Street Farmers Market. The next day they are open is Saturday, March 11th. Check them out on Facebook to get specific details or to get notified when their April event is!
This really is an ideal way to spend a few hours on a weekend day if you’re a big fan of reading. They have sections for Romance, Fiction, Sci-Fi, Children, magazines, and so much more. They have an entire room in the warehouse dedicated to different interest topics such as cooking, biology, chemistry, art, etc. It’s very easy to walk out with 20+ books because why not grab a book that looks interesting? It’s free and if you don’t like it or don’t get around to reading it, bring it back or drop it off at a nearby Little Free Library.
If you really want to get creative with the circular economy model, you can take the concept of a library and apply it to items other than books. What would it be like if, instead of having to purchase specialized tools, you could just borrow them when you need them? This might include a power drill that you need once a year, a stud finder you need for a single project, pruning shears for the one day a year you tackle your pruning yard work, or maybe even a fishing rod for the once or twice a year your buddy is in town and wants to go fishing. Do we need to purchase these items that are only used a few times and spend the rest of the time sitting in storage? What resources could we conserve, if we shared items across communities?