Eco-Libris: Reusing Textbooks in Chinese Schools

chinesetextbook.jpgEditor’s note: Textbook reuse is standard practice for American college students, but apparently not for Chinese elementary schools. That’s about to change, according to blogger Raz Godelnik at Eco-Libris. This post was originally published on Saturday, March 8, 2008.

Good news from China: the China Daily reported yesterday that the Chinese Ministry of Education will allow the reuse of textbooks in primary and middle schools in some rural areas starting this new semester.

The newspaper reports that

…the central government will set up a fund for the purchase of these textbooks, which will be issued to students free of charge. Students will be required to keep the books in good order for their reuse by others.

This initiative is a win-win deal: parents will spend less on textbooks, and the environment will benefit as well – less trees will be cut, less energy will be used, and pollutant produced in paper-making will be reduced.

If this initiative will be implemented in all of China, it can have an enormous impact because of China’s huge population. Check out these figures: it is estimated that $4.2 billion is spent on the purchase of textbooks during the nine-year period of compulsory education nationwide, and that about 450,000 tons of paper is used annually in the printing of these books, which requires the consumption of about 9 million trees!

In any case, this is a good start and we hope that further steps to broaden this initiative will follow. Maximizing the usage of each textbook that is already printed is a goal we should look for not only in China, but worldwide, both in schools and universities. This is the opportunity to remind you about Chegg.com, an online service that rents textbooks to students and also plants a tree for every rented book with Eco-Libris.

And for more news about green happenings in China, swing by EcoWorldly.

  1. Bobby B.

    They must be using a lot of awfully small trees to make their paper.

    450,000 T x 2,000 T/lb
    ———————– = 100 lb/tree
    9,000,000 tree

    Now, the above does assume a 1:1 wood-to-paper ratio, which is probably not accurate. However, even if the ratio was as large as 3:1 wood-to-paper, a 300 pound tree is probably smaller than a typical pulpwood tree. Of course, they could be using balsa wood. Does anyone have an estimate of the typical pulpwood to paper yield of a Chinese tree?

    Anyway, check out this neat calculator for estimating the weight of a log:


  2. Ben

    We have been sourcing reused note books at our Yangshuo hotel for some time and are glad to see that is also starting to be introduced into the local education system.
    China receives a lot of bad press in the news but they are trying to make changes albeit slowly. A major help in changing opinions in China in relation to sustainability issues at the moment, is coming from the smaller players who are standing on their own and implementing sustainable initiatives. Sadly they are not always mentioned in the news but particularly in the tourism sector changes are starting to occur.

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