Going Green: 3 Sustainable Practices to Implement at Your Academic Library

October 19, 2015 / by Lindsay Mullen


As organizations become more aware of how their practices impact the world around them, many have begun implementing strategies to become more eco-friendly. By developing sustainable practices that reduce their waste, promote recycling initiatives and limit their carbon footprint, companies like UPS to General Mills are finding ways to “go green.” But what does this have to do with your academic library?

With many colleges and universities across the country adopting green initiatives of their own, it’s only a matter of time before your library needs to start implementing sustainable practices as well—and showing the rest of your campus how it’s done. So why not lead the charge and start taking on these easy eco-friendly initiatives now? Here are four things your library can start doing to become more green.


While this point may seem completely obvious, it’s one that still needs to be said, as many institutions still don’t have proper recycling receptacles. Recycling programs can help your library properly dispose of items, like paper, cardboard, plastic bottles and other things that can be disposed of in a more environmentally friendly way. Station recycling bins for plastic bottles near bathrooms, doorways and close by study areas where students gather. For paper recycling, place bins near printers, study areas and in computer labs.

If you’ve already got recycling bins, don’t be afraid to kick your recycling program up a notch. Take a page from the University of Denver and start a compost program for students to put uneaten food, pizza boxes and coffee cups. Encourage students to participate by turning composting into a competition: hand out raffle tickets to each student who composts, and distribute weekly prizes.

Do you really need to print that?

Libraries go through a lot of paper. Between photocopying pages of books, printing assignments and lecture notes and creating hard copies of online articles, students are pretty liberal when it comes to clicking the “print now” button. To limit the amount of paper used, set library printers to automatically print on both sides of a piece of paper. To reduce the amount of paper used when students photocopy books, invest in printers that allow them to send scanned files directly to their email address, eliminating the need to print lengthy sections of books and articles.

Rehome old books

Recycling doesn’t have to just include plastic bottles and a spiral full of class notes on Roman history. When your library comes across books that are either outdated or have sustained too much wear and tear to be kept, you can recycle them as well. Companies like Books4Cause accepts donated books and sends them to schools in African countries. You can also look into donating books to local schools, teachers or other charity organizations. For books that are damaged, seek out local recycling programs that will know how to properly dispose of them.

Let us know: what initiatives has your library started in order to become more eco-friendly?

Think your academic library is on the cutting edge? Take our quiz to find out!

Is your academic library on the cutting edge?

Take the Quiz

Topics: Higher Ed

Lindsay Mullen

Written by Lindsay Mullen

Lindsay Mullen is CEO of Prosper Strategies, working behind the scenes to support the Mango team's world of lovable language learning. A language aficionado herself, Lindsay oversees a team of marketers fluent in public relations, content development and strategy (and they speak some German, French, Spanish and Chinese as well.)

Subscribe to Email Updates