Hands Across the Water (HATW) http://www.surplusbooksforcharity.org collects books and exports them to developing countries to establish community libraries. In the Boston area, for example, HATW works with MIT, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Wellesley College and Harvard in collecting books that students do not want to sell back to the school or books that professors no longer need. This keeps the books out of the landfill and recycles them to people who need them.
Usually the high cost of shipping books abroad dooms them to the landfill. The HATW program sells some of the books it collects to raise money for shipping and handling costs. This makes the program economically sustainable -- a great advantage. The small fraction of books that are so badly damaged as to be unusable are shredded and used to make recycled paper products. So the program supports environmental sustainability, too. And, of course, it gets books to people in less developed countries who could not afford to buy them.
Our project focuses on recycling surplus or unwanted books of all kinds. There are a lot of books that are discarded every year – we’d like to get those books into the recycling pipeline and keep them out of the landfill.
Watch for the Hands Across the Water signs and recycling bins. The first collection bins will be in place later this week. All of the collection areas will be in operation through finals week.