Libraries are the original recyclers. We’ve been recirculating books since the first lending libraries offered patrons of the Roman baths the chance to read a scroll after a soak (not during — even the Romans knew you shouldn’t read a library book in the bathtub!). Canada’s first lending library was opened in 1779 in Quebec City; since then, Canadian libraries have recycled — to be specific, recirculated — books and other library materials billions of times.
We’re not resting on our laurels, of course — far from being a home for a bunch of dusty scrolls, we’re always on the lookout to be the best we can be: as participators, leaders and community partners. Trying to be — and encourage being — eco-savvy is one example.
We do the things most eco-sensible places do: we watch how much we print and we try not to waste resources. We have information to help you be eco-sensible too: books such as Try This at Home: Planet-friendly Projects for Kids, or Alternative Energy for Dummies, and food for thought on the big picture, such as Fueling the Future: How the Battle Over Energy is Changing Everything, as well as downloadable eBooks such as Ten Technologies to Save the Planet: Energy Options for a Low-carbon Future.
The more we get together, the happier — and eco-efficient — we’ll be. October 7 to 11 is International Walk-to-School Week; students of local schools as well as students of life might want to add the library to their pedestrian destinations. Earth Matters and the West Kootenay EcoSociety have issued a Zero-Waste Market Challenge for vendors and customers of the Wednesday Baker Street Market, working together for optimum eco-sensibility.
At the library, we’re collaborating with the City of Nelson’s Eco-Save program to make the Kill-a-Watt available. Kill-a-what, you say? The Kill-a-Watt is a power consumption monitor that determines how much your appliances consume, and what “phantom power” is costing you, so you can make changes and save money. When an appliance is plugged in but not in use, phantom power can account for as much as 10 per cent of residential electricity use. This was news to me, already a guilty leaver-on of laptops.
The Kill-a-Watt is one aspect of EcoSave, a program designed to help you make your home more energy efficient. Homeowners can register for an energy assessment and access rebates and low cost financing for eco-saving fix-its. Turn that laptop back on for a sec and go to nelson.ca/EN/main/services/electrical-services/energy-grants.html.
So what about those old laptops, mice, and computer miscellany? How do you get rid of those pre-flatscreen tvs nobody wants anymore? Clunky portable phones, video game joysticks, VCRs, and newer electronics such as MP3s and DVD players can all be recycled through the Return-it program run by the BC Electronic Products Recycling Association.
Go to return-it.ca/electronics and find out about responsible recycling that ensures unwanted electronics don’t wind up illegally exported or in landfills. In Nelson, the Leafs Bottle Depot is your drop-spot for the electronic toy your kid grew out of, or the electric guitar you wish he would.
There are many faces to eco-savvy; it’s not always easy to make the choices we know we should, for all our best intentions. It’s nice to know that just reading a library book is an eco-sensible thing to do, when the only energy you use is the trip (walk! Bike!) to the library, and that CFL lightbulb illuminating the pages as you read in bed, before you turn off your light and let your Eco-efficient appliances hum you to sleep.
Anne DeGrace is the Adult Services Coordinator at the Nelson Public Library. Her column runs every other Friday.