When I was in New York, I bought some new and some second-hand books. I thought about not buying anything new as that is what is most in keeping with the Zero Waste/minimalist lifestyle. However, minimalism is different for everyone. It’s important to remember that there is a difference between trying to lead a more minimalist life based on conscious consumption and getting hung up on not attaining a minimalist aesthetic for your home/wardrobe(see below!), or obsessively counting your possessions to hit an imaginary target.
I haven’t gotten around to reading Marie Kondo’s book Spark Joy: An Illustrated Guide to the Japanese Art of Tidying but I’ve watched some videos of her on Youtube talking about her philosophy and some other minimalist Youtubers have echoed these sentiments too: keep whatever adds value to your life, or what sparks joy. If this means buying new books, then that is one of my vices. As vices go it’s not the worst. For me, books spark joy.
I usually buy exclusively second hand books but for the last couple of months I stopped buying books as I am currently trying to read up all the books I have and then donate them to charity so I won’t have them cluttering up my home.
A holiday in New York made me go a bit mad. I got some brand spanking new books in The Strand and Barnes and Noble and some second-hand books in a Housing Works book thrift store. These shops were all amazing and I would definitely recommend browsing them if you are in NYC.
I can donate them when I’ve finished them or keep them in a small book collection. The second hand market for books is huge and they can even be gifted to other people when you are finished with them. (There shouldn’t be a stigma about re-gifting things you’ve used-just think of them as heirlooms!) Books can be reused countless times and recycled at the end of their long lives.
I got some books on feminism and some really cool graphic novels! I got a second-hand copy of Stuffocation by James Wallman which is all about overconsumption so I’m planning on reviewing that here when I finish it. I also nabbed a second hand copy of Cujo by Stephen King for just $0.50!
Obviously buying second-hand is always better in terms of Zero Waste. This lifestyle is not about depriving yourself though – buying new occasionally is not the end of the world. Especially when you are buying stupendous new books that can be shared and enjoyed by lots of people through their life cycle 🙂