PaperBackSwap Blog

Go Green Earth Day Contest

Go Green Earth Day Contest

What we all know and love about PBS is that it allows us to recycle and reuse our favorite things…books! We’re here to keep well-loved books out of landfills and in the hands of avid readers. Increasing our positive impact on the environment is an important goal of the club, so we look forward to Earth Day each year as a special time to celebrate and to further our commitment to protecting the planet.

This year, we want you to celebrate with us! In the spirit of Earth Day on April 22, 2011, we’d love to hear your great ideas for Going Green.

Share with us a practical, creative, helpful, and fun idea on how to REDUCE, REUSE and RECYCLE household items.  Remember, when it comes to going green, even a little goes a long way. Submit just one, excellent idea that each of our members can implement into their lives to live a more verdant lifestyle.

Submit your greening idea by April 14th in a comment to this post. We will choose 5 ideas and members can vote on their absolute favorite Going Green Idea starting April 18th.  The winner will be announced in the PBS Blog on April 22nd. The grand prize winner will win 10 credits & $5.00 PBS Money, and the second, third, fourth, and fifth place ideas selected will win 3 credits each.

We look forward to hearing all your ideas and pooling everyone’s suggestions to make PBS members the greenest readers in the country!

Go green and good luck!

“The earth is what we all have in common.” – Wendell Berry

For Your Greading (Green Reading) Pleasure

Click the cover images to view the details page for each book on the site. These books are ready to be reused; they’re available to order from your fellow PBS members!

The Green Book by Elizabeth Rogers, Thomas Kostigen

It's Easy Being Green by Crissy Trask

Wake Up and Smell the Planet by Grist Magazine

Squeaky Green by Eric Ryan, Adam Lowry

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245 Responses to “Go Green Earth Day Contest”

  1. Mary (mnredsky) says:

    Uhhh, yeah… after reading all those… I got nothing! Dang! and I thought my family was doing good.

  2. Dawn Y. says:

    I decided it would be fun to do a special Earth Day project this year with my daughter. I found an easy project online: repurposing fabric in your home to make napkins. My 10 year old daughter really wants to learn to sew and this would be a super easy project for her to start on and what fun we’ll have finding fabric around the house to make fun napkins to use every day and some fancy ones for special occasions. Looking forward to getting started next week…I figure we’ll need to make a couple dozen or so!

  3. Melisa E. (luvmykids367) says:

    I Always save anything glass that I buy with food in them from the stores. Pickle jars, spagetti sauce jars, cherry jars, ect… I wash them out really well and use some of them for making holiday gifts. You can fill any size jar with just about anything you like and customize the jar by adding fabric or decorations then seal and give as a gift. I use bath salts in some with different colors layering as I fill up or I make a coco mix and add some mini white or dark chocolate morsals and layer as I go up with mini marshmallows. These are always great gifts because they were made by you and with the time and love any gift should be given. I also use the small glass jars that I buy that had cherries in them and put my leftover tomato sauce in it to store in the freezer for the next time I need it. I also use the jars you buy the dole fruit in, the ones that have the grapefruit or mandarin oranges and I use these jars just for making my homemade salad dressings and these also are the best sized “Gift Giving” Jars as they are the perfect size and shape to make an extra creative gift personalized by you 😉 So, the next time you go to throw that glass jar in the trash think of all the endless possibilities you can use it for. This is my best Glass recycling idea!

  4. Shila says:

    I try to use no chemical products one of my favorite all purpose go to green product is , a simple lemon,not only does it smell wonderful, all the things this little fruit can do. Some times alone or just added with a simple baking soda or splash of vinegar.

    “Ant deterrent”

    Pouring lemon juice around areas that ants frequent is said to repel them.Works wonders and non-toxic.

    “Air freshener”

    An equal amount of lemon juice and water added to an atomizer will create a wonderful synthetic chemical-free green air freshener for your home.

    “All purpose cleaner”

    Again, an equal amount of lemon juice and water added to a spray bottle is an effective kitchen and bathroom cleaner and can also be used on walls (spot test first).

    A small amount of lemon juice can also be added to vinegar based cleaning solutions to help neutralize the smell of the vinegar.


    Heat a bowl of water and lemon slices in your microwave for 30 seconds to a minute; then wipe out the oven. Stains will be easier to remove and old food odors will be neutralized.


    Half a lemon stored in your fridge will help control and eliminate unpleasant smells.


    Rub a lemon juice and baking soda paste onto chrome or copper ,rinse and then wipe/buff with a soft cloth or paper towel.

    Mix 1/2 cup baking soda and a cup of lemon juice for a powerful toilet cleaner that will leave it smelling extra clean!

    “Lime scale”

    Use a half lemon to clean the lime scale off a sink or taps/faucets; rinse well.


    For bleaching purposes, add 1/2 cup of lemon juice to your washing machine’s rinse cycle and hang clothes outside to dry.

    A teaspoon of lemon juice thrown into your wash can also help your clothes to smell fresher.


    A teaspoon of lemon juice added to your dishwashing detergent can help boost grease cutting power


    Hot lemon juice and baking soda is a good drain cleaner that is safe to use in septic systems.

    If you have a garbage disposal unit, throw in some lemon peel from time to time while it’s working in order to keep it smelling fresh.

    “Chopping boards”

    Rub lemon juice into your wooden chopping board, leave overnight and then rinse. Wood chopping boards appear to have anti-bacterial properties anyway, but the lemon will help kill off any remaining nasties and neutralize odors.

    “Glass and mirrors”

    4 tablespoons of lemon juice mixed with half a gallon of water makes an effective window cleaner.


    Straight lemon juice can be used as a general degreaser.


    2 parts olive oil or cooking oil mixed with 1 part lemon juice makes for an excellent furniture polish!

    “Cuts, stings and itches”

    A small amount of lemon juice dripped onto minor wounds can help stop bleeding and disinfect the injury (it will sting a bit). Lemon juice applied to itches, poison ivy rashes and wasp stings is said to relieve discomfort.

    Just a little lemon 🙂

  5. Nancy R. (NancyL) says:

    Make things from scratch. Don’t buy premade frosting, cookie mixes, Hamburger helper. All can be done easily with less waste – get rid of all of the packaging and make wholesome food for your family – also cuts your salt intake.

  6. Martha P. says:

    Thanks for this opportunity to learn from others. We all need to celebrate Earth Day everyday. In our small business office we use the double-sided feature of our copier on draft mode as much as possible, saving both paper & ink. I also use the backs of discarded paper for copies of estimates & any correspondence that we will keep filed in house. We then recycle all discarded paper, even that which is shredded. I also buy recycled computer ink cartridges.

    At home, I use my dryer very little. In the winter I fill my wooden drying rack & in the summer listen to the birds when I use my clothesline. To avoid wrinkles (and ironing) I spin knits (esp. winter T-necks), jeans & cords just long enough to relax wrinkles…often a very few minutes. The knits get hung on shoulder-supportive, curved hangars & the pants (after folding by flattening seam to seam) get hung over a thin towel on the back of a cushioned chair. Items dry very quickly & my winter dry house is humidified….all saving electricity & decreasing carbon footprints.

  7. Brian P. says:

    Compost food waste to reduce quantity of trash sent to landfills. Use a bicycle for shorter trips and for grocery trips whenever possible. Above all, do not use K-CUPs, as these are inherently wasteful. Use a coffee machine with a reusable filer.

  8. I love to be creative and save $$$$. I also enjoy crocheting so I combine both hobbies. Instead of throwing out my plastic shopping bags from the supermarket, WalMart, drug stores, etc., I use them to crochet tote bags, all types of purses, tote bags, rugs, dish scrubbers, even bibs. I get my plastic bags and cut them in 1 inch strips which I then lop together to make a ball of PLARN (yarn). From there I can make anything I want. I have made baby bibs from my Plarn which mom’s can use when feeding toddlers and when the bib gets food on it, you can just rinse the bib out, and place flat to dry on sink or in dish rack. When my kitchen floor mat (you can make any size you like) gets dirty, I throw it in the shower and hose it down. Summer time you can hose down (clean off) when watering your lawn. Carrying towels, toys, blankets in my tote bags home from the beach, it is so easy to clean off the sand – – with use your outside hose! This craft saves so much $$$$ and I always am asked how I made them and if I could make something for friends. This has happened so many times that this summer I will be featured at some local craft shows in my area.

    So much fun to crochet, save $$$$ and show off my ideas!
    Carol B

  9. Kate H. (yankeekate) says:

    Save Coffee grinds and at the end of the week add them to your garden, they make a great fertilizer. Some Starbucks stores will also hand out bags of grinds to take home for your garden.

  10. Kirstin E. (HausMaus) says:

    I use nylons or panty hose with runs or tears in them to tie plants to stakes in the garden, to hold lavendar or cedar in the closet (instead of mothballs) and as cat toys (tie them into a knot and trim the ends).

  11. Marci C. says:

    Paperback Swap in and of itself has raised my awareness of my level of Green Living…at first my motivation was thrift, so that I could afford to keep my reading appetite sated. Then I began to see the beauty and generosity that comes from a group of like minded individuals SHARING. When everyone shares, there is more to go around. I originally started packaging my books for mail with the regular bubble wrap mailers…then I got creative. At the rate I was mailing out books it didn’t make sense to spend the amount of money I was on packaging materials, I started reusing the packaging materials that I received my books in (if possible) and then I began looking at everything as a potential shipping medium. The ladies at the Post Office think I’m a hoot! Every week they comment on the new variety of what I choose to pack my books in. Never have I been turned away because my choices were incompatible with the Post system and other than a couple of books that got lost in the mail everything has always arrived safe! From gummi treat boxes to the thick extra large paper that my children’s school lunch menu is printed on, Victoria’s Secret bags to Halloween candy bags…EVERYTHING has become suspect! If it can protect a book as it travels from my heart to another one of my beautiful book loving friends somewhere in this country then I’ll use it! Not only has this kept my book recycling more affordable but I am not contributing to MORE waste, if someone is just going to toss or recycle the materials they receive my books in then it’s all better for the planet and definitely keeps in the spirit of reduce, reuse, recycle! Everything that passes through our homes we can give a potential second life to. Much Love and Happy Reading!

  12. Victoria K. says:

    Instead of throwing away orange or lemon peels, I put them down our garbage disposal. It’s a great, natural way to keep it smelling fresh.
    I also buy Rechargeable Batteries.
    I have a pet rabbit and instead of buying bedding all the time i use old newspaper. He also eats all the fruits and vegetables I don’t get around to using.
    I always unplug laptop and phone chargers when I’m not using them.
    I’m also huge on turning the lights out when you’re not using them and putting a timer on your t.v if you watch it while you lay down at night.
    I also use plastic and paper dinnerware as seldom as possible.
    I’m a huge supporter of used cd, dvd, and book stores.

  13. Rebecca L. says:

    One simple way to improve your health, neighborhood and the earth all in one: switch to non-motorized outside care. Shovel, don’t snow-blow. Rake, don’t leaf-blow. Weed-pull, don’t weed-kill. Get an old-fashioned push mower. All of these provide you with a great source of outside exercise and family time, save on gas/chemical money, protect the earth, and keep your neighborhood quieter and therefore more peaceful/relaxed. I love multitasking, so I like taking advantage of these more “old fashioned” means of reducing because they let me work out, get some sun, save money, and protect the earth all at once.

  14. Angela G. (wolfeagle) says:

    We all can keep more stuff out of the landfill…simple ideas like recycling and upcycling anything you can helps. This is even more fun when you combine upcycling with crafting. For instance, books that have writing in them, or are damaged and that can not be posted, traded or swapped cam be used in crafts and turned in to items like lamps, purses, storage boxes, photo frames, art dolls, clothing, jewelry, and even art collages. Many items that would usually end up in a landfill can be given new life and made beautiful and useful. Do the simple things, like using a water bottle, changing your light bulbs, setting your thermostat, using re-usable bags for shopping, planting a tree or garden, donating furniture and clothing, and buying local foods….and then before you put anything in the trash..ask yourself….can anyone else possibly use this item for something? If yes, make a pile..put it in a box..donate it..re-cycle it, or re-use it and by doing so we all will help out the Earth by keeping more stuff out of our landfills.

  15. Carolyn G. (demifess) says:

    I may have missed the contest by an hour, but I thought I would submit some ideas for going green anyway. 🙂 There are lots of small things we can do to everyday to help the environment. You can open the rear tank of your toilet and put a half or quarter gallon jug filled with water in the tank of your toilet, this displaces the water in the tank, so you use less water every time you flush. Also when you are done brewing your coffee everyday, you can save the left over grounds to fertilize plants, or you can add a few spoonfuls of the used coffee grounds to an ice cube tray with some water and put it in your freezer. Then voila! You can make some nice strong iced coffee with coffee grind cubes this summer. There are also many local composting communities where you can bring any natural waste you have left over from the foods you eat. (i.e.- eggshells, apple cores, etc.) You can also donate clothes you don’t want anymore to homeless shelters, or organize a clothing swap with your friends, so you can all have some new clothes to wear. I think this is a great idea for the site and I like some of the other suggestions that people have wrote, I can’t wait to try some of these ideas later.

  16. Jasmine G. (ferndiva) says:

    I cut up plastic tofu containers to use as nametag labels for flower and vegetable seed propagation. Since some seeds take a long time to germinate I don’t forget what I planted! Use a sharpie pen to write the plant name and it lasts a long time. And the tag can be used over and over.

  17. Martha P. says:

    Another great idea for reducing waste: my daughter purchased holiday material on sale & made gift bags to use herself & as simple gifts. Nothing fancy, sewn w/ 3 seams & zig-zagged on top. These are then tied w/ ribbon, yarn, string or ???? Made in varying sizes, they delighted teachers, family members, neighbors etc. I plan to use this same idea for birthdays, showers etc. w/ appropriate material. The bags can then be reused @ will.

  18. Theresa L. (theresapus) , says:

    I reuse shopping bags for trash. They’re great for dirty diapers and cat litter.

  19. Gabe M. (SciFiGuy) says:

    When books are sent to me in a padded manila envelope, I reuse them to send on another book. That way, the book is being re-used, the packaging is being re-used, and I have to use is a little tape!

  20. pennyroile says:

    I realize that I am too late for the contest, but gosh, this is such a nice place to post ideas.
    Kudos to the person who mentioned recycling the packages that books are mailed in. I do that all the time. Way to go.
    CF bulbs are great, especially if you use them in lighting outlets that you burn OFTEN!
    Saves you money and helps the environment.
    Think about your TV usage. Use a remote plug in and turn your TV off after usage, or unplug it. We have a number of televisions in this household and they use a lot of wattage when they are off and plugged in.
    I bought a new washer and dryer and also dehumidifiers with the energy star rating.
    Dryers can’t have energy star, but the newer ones are more efficient and consume less power.
    CEILING FANS are great! You use less power in winter (to push warm air down) and also less air conditioning.
    Thanks to everyone on this great site. Sweet people who share, and help us recycle, and save money on books

  21. Nasley P. says:

    I also realize I am too late, but I did want to share that one of my most recent discoveries is a recipe for fabric softener. Easy, just vinegar and your favorite essential oil. The internet is full of these green cleaning recipes, and you do not have to worry about harmful chemicals going down the drain.

    Also I definitely stopped buying Bottled Water. Big corporations are trying to trick us into loosing trust in our local municipalities. Instead of buying plastic bottled water, we should invest our effort into making sure our local municipal water is at its best quality. Not to mention we would not be contributing to the world social issues attributed to bottled water.

  22. Alison A. (Gaiamie) says:

    great posts here!

    I realize I’m late too, but I think the two biggest things I can think of are:

    1. Eradicate as much as possible all single-use plastic from your life. I just got back from the beach (n. cal) and every time I visit I pick up at least 20 pounds per walk. It’s become difficult to not pick it up, having learned how many hundreds of thousands of turtles, birds, and other sea creatures die from strangulation, suffocation or from eating plastic, mistaken for food, and, as it cannot digest, they starve for lack of space in the stomach for real food. You’ve probably heard of the 5 gyres, continents of plastic on the seas (5gyres.org) and it all comes from us. With the stress of overfishing, plastic is enormously harmful and even though we recycle, wind and mistakes carry thousands of pounds to the ocean each day. There are great alternatives, we just need to be intentional to remember them! And I speak to myself here too!

    2. Stop using antibacterial soap, etc., and if you buy meat choose only meat that has been raised without antibiotics (and hormones, which make preemptive antibiotics necessary). There are many scientific studies that are showing that antibacterial soaps are no more effective than regular old soap, and the kicker is that a) they kill fish- Triclosan is a toxic chemical and it is having an impact on amphibians and fish in many ecosystems, and like many other chemicals and pharmaceuticals, it does not get removed from the water. and b) they and meat-industry antibiotics are part of a large problem of overuse of antibacterials/antibiotics that are creating resistant superbugs (see http://www.wbur.org/npr/124999740/mrsa-the-drug-resistant-superbug-that-wont-die).

    If you need something quick, choose alcohol-based antibacterial gel, it normally does not include Triclosan but instead disinfects with simple alcohol.

    seems sometimes like a drop in the bucket, but hopefully if enough of us understand and take steps we can have a positive impact, for both our beautiful planet and our children’s future.

  23. I use free cycle for items I am no longer using instead of just tossing them out. you just post items you no longer use or don’t have a need for and then someone that does need it will come pick it up! it’s a great way to get more books also!

  24. Lisa B. (wxlisab) , says:

    I cut up old t-shirts to use as rags. I wet them then tie them around the sponge mop to clean. I also use them instead of paper towels when I do my cleaning.

  25. Glenda L. says:

    Instead of going out and buying toys for your kids, recycle items that you would normally throw away. Shoe boxes can be made into all kinds of things such as doll houses, beds for their dolls or stuffed animals or shadow boxes. Milk jugs can be cut to make all sorts of things. Cut off the top, leaving on the handle and play a game catching a ball with it. Cut off the top, put some soil and seeds and teach your child about growing things. Large boxes or several small ones can be made into playhouses, a fort or a castle. Save clean, empty food containers and let your child play grocery store. Cereal boxes can be cut and glued to make all kinds of things.
    Believe me, as a kindergarten teacher your child will use their imagination and have hours of fun while learning to recycle and go green.

  26. Casa J. (Jamowa) says:

    When I mail books, CDs, and DVDs to Swap & Swapa groups, I wrap them in old road maps. Oh sure, GPS is the rage, but sometimes (in the mountains or in a foreign country) GPS is not available. So we always stock up on maps for our trips. Occasionally, I have found road maps languishing in flea markets or the Goodwill so I snatch them from the inevitable trip to the trash bin for a second chance via the postal service.

    Travel maps are sturdy, colorful, and a great material for wrapping packages. They delight the receiver and provide entertainment for the postal worker. Don’t toss those maps….send them on a trip!

  27. Sherri D. says:

    I put my husband on the curb last weekend. I am recycling him for some one else to re-use.

  28. Sherri D. says:

    I buy organic oranges and lemons. I wash them first, then when I am done using them, I save the zest, dry it, and store it in little jars or bottles for when I need a little for cooking or baking.

  29. Heather G. (hguy) says:

    I recycle old beer and wine bottles to make glasses and tumblers! It’s super easy. Just get a bottle cutter for around $20 and sand down the edges after you cut off the top!

    Enjoy your favorite drink and then enjoy another one in your new tumbler!

  30. CM C. (CocoCee) says:

    I work, I drink from a glass and not the provided paper cups. I recycle when I can, donate to anyone who can reuse the things I don’t. I carry reusuable bags in my purse.

  31. Leslie E. (lechterwhite) , says:

    One of the easiest ways to be green is while shipping your book swaps!!!
    Use the following methods:

    -If using standard swap label packaging ALWAYS use something that has printing on the other side (I often take paper from work that I would otherwise recycle – non confidential information only!)
    -Never throw away packing materials! Re-use bubble mailers until you cannot use them anymore – the more labels they have stuck to them, the better. (I often write a little note on the back of my mailers to remind the next person to reuse them!
    -GET CREATIVE! Use cardboard cut from cardboard boxed, worn out manilla folders, school folders, yard signs, poster board, clean cereal/cracker boxes turned inside out, etc. I don’t care what the packaging looks like- it’s the book that’s important!
    -Flip it inside-out. Many Tyvek mailers can be used inside out and look good as new.
    -Work in an office or somewhere that gets a lot of packages delivered? Send an email asking for your co-workers to save you any bubble mailers/Tyvek mailers they get delivered to them.

    Most importantly, if you can’t salvage the materials you receive with your swaps – RECYCLE THEM!!!

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