Student honor society provides "green" option for used books

January 28, 2011

PLAINVIEW – Most folks know these days that paper and plastic grocery bags, aluminum soda cans and plastic bottles can have a future through recycling efforts that turn them into new products and save landfill space.

But few may be aware that the same can be said for used books and magazines. Students in Sigma Tau Delta English honor society at Wayland Baptist University are hoping to spread the word that used reading material can have a new life as well through their efforts on campus.

In a partnership with Better World Books, Sigma Tau is collecting used books of any kind as well as magazines, cookbooks, Bibles and even hymnals and textbooks. Even books without covers are accepted. The books are shipped to Better World, who then sells whatever they can. Profits of sold books are distributed partially to the WBU Sigma Tau chapter, who uses those funds to attend the organization’s national conference, partially to a charitable organization of its choice and partially to international literacy partners.

Sigma Tau chose Invisible Children to receive a portion of the funds from book sales. Invisible Children is a nonprofit organization that uses film documentaries about war-affected children in east Africa, namely children forced to become soldiers. The entity seeks to rebuild schools provide economic development efforts, provide scholarships for education for Ugandan youth and other efforts that focus on long-term development.

Books that cannot be sold are sent to third-world countries to build libraries in nations were reading materials are a precious commodity.

“We like this project because we benefit and the community benefits as well,” said Ashley Ratcliffe, a junior from Lubbock and the Sigma Tau vice president. “We probably pack up about six boxes every six weeks to send and they are totally full.”

Ratcliffe said the group enjoys knowing that they are helping in the “green” efforts on campus and in the community while supporting several good causes with regard to literacy efforts. She said it has been a popular community service project for the group because it is not too labor intensive for students who have busy schedules.

“So many of us have books that we’re not doing anything with, so why not give back to the community and benefit others with them,” she said. “It’s a good organization and we know what we’re getting from what we give.”

The collection is open to anyone in the community. Books can be brought to the School of Languages and Literature office on the second floor of Gates Hall. Residents may also contact the school at (806) 291-1100 to have book donations picked up by Sigma Tau members. Local schools are encouraged to participate as well.

Founded in 2002, Better World Books has a network of more than 1,800 college campuses and 2,000 libraries nationwide to collect books. The company has converted more than 53 million books into more than $8.6 million in funding for literacy and education and has diverted more than 26,000 tons of books from landfills. About 3.3 million books have been donated to partner programs around the world, including Books for Africa, the National Center for Family Literacy and others.