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The circular knowledge economy: the other life of books

Refuse collectors in Ankara have assembled a huge library from books rescued from trash.

One of the main causes of the environmental degradation affecting us is the habitual production and consumption model we practice: produce, consume, throw. A linear paradigm of packaging, clothes, electro-domestic appliances… just about anything you can think of. Even, sadly, books.

It is still possible, however, to turn around the environmental problem leading the planet to unsustainability. One of the keys is found in the circular economy. Why not - instead of producing, using and throwing – reduce, reuse and reutilize? Nature doesn’t throw out trash; it’s able to use and reuse the elements. The circular economy is inspired by nature and transforms waste into a resource.

So, what has this got to do with books? Some months ago, refuse collectors in Ankara came to the same conclusion and handed the world a lesson by opening a library with almost 6,000 books they rescued from the trash during years of waste collections. Now they have given a new life to this collection of printed knowledge, granting free access to it at an old, restored, brick factory. These are gems which otherwise would have been discarded on tips or, in the best case, pulped in recycling plants.

The story began as a modest initiative, with the refuse collectors separating the books they found in the garbage during their working hours. But now it is a sustainable project all citizens in the Turkish capital can enjoy. The initial idea was that only the workers and their families could access the volumes, but news soon reached the street about the collection and donations have been pouring in from neighbors who no longer want to hang on to their old books and would rather see them on the shelves of this unusual library. It is now open to individual readers and schools, has a loan program for non-profit associations and prisons, and keeps its doors open to the public almost 24 hours a day. Culture never tires.

There are now more than 6,000 books on its shelves and a further 1,500 are waiting to be catalogued and added to the collection. The facility also has a reading zone, children’s play area, space for board games and a small café.

What do you make of this unselfish way of caring simultaneously for knowledge and protect the environment?

 

Source: El País

 

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