How can I reuse or recycle a load of old school textbooks?

Text booksWe’ve had an email from Peri, asking:

I have many old school textbooks that i don’t need any more. how do i recycle them cheaply?

Peri doesn’t give any more information about how many is “many” or how old is “old” but I imagine it’ll be more than would be accepted in the standard waste system and old enough that they’re either too tattered or too out-of-date for use by other children.

So any suggestions about what can be done with them?

(And on a related topic, anyone got fun ideas for ways to cheaply protect new textbooks in the future? I remember that sticky-backed plastic was the standard thing we used for textbooks and exercise books but wallpaper was also fairly hardy – and often gave a fun surface to doodle on – and one of my school friend’s used newspaper, specifically the pink-coloured Financial Times, which looks great.)

(Stock photo by lusi – and our first reuse: “world’s most uncomfortable pillow” ;) )

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41 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle a load of old school textbooks?”

  1. kairon13 says:

    You could use them to make altered books, which is artistic and fun, especially if you do it as a group project with some friends.

  2. Bobbie says:

    If these textbooks are current enough they can be sold at an online bookstore such as and fetch quite a good price. If you wish to donate there are organizations that would be happy to get them

  3. LaSombra says:

    Put them in your car and take them to the nearest TP factory. Also, here in Bulgaria we have recycling buy-out points, where they actually give you money for your old paper.

  4. Molly says:

    Make a really nerdy clock, perhaps a gift for the professor who taught the class?

  5. Renee L says:

    A lot of schools sell used textbooks at their bookstores. I’m sure you could sell them there. Or, you could see if anyone would be willing to buy them directly from you. If the books are totally out of date, altered books are indeed fun to make.

  6. brista says:

    I have the same problem. I have about two dozen SAT/SAT Subject/ACT study guides that I desperately want OUT of my house. They’ve never been written in so they’re in great shape…but they’re for the 2005 (and before) SAT since an SAT tutor gave them to me when I was in high school. And since those tests have been changed, the material isn’t the same so I can’t donate them back to the high school (like I had planned on).

    I’d feel bad about just throwing them in the garbage can (because a book is a book is a book) and we do have a couple used bookstores but really, no one is going to get any use from them. And since they’re plain old ugly black-and-white textbooks, other than carving out the center to make a “hidden treasure” spot, I don’t know what kind of cool artsy thing you could really do with those.

  7. Simone says:

    If you have a thick book here is what you can do: just go to this site:

  8. Condo Blues says:

    If the textbooks are out of date and too old to sell at an on-line used bookseller like (where I bought a lot of my college textbooks BTW), use them as wallpaper! I collaged the pages from old out of date reference books as wallpaper in my powder room. I get a lot of compliments on it.

  9. Jim says:

    Tear out the pages and recycle that paper together with office paper.

  10. m. says:

    I am excited to try this floating book shelf. I think text books would make an excellent base.

  11. green says:

    I would sugest donating them to
    Save Money, Save The Planet specializes in the recycling of textbooks, DVDs, CDs. Buying used textbooks not only saves you money, but cuts down on greenhouse gases caused by the manufacturing of new textbooks.
    With you’re not only saving trees, you are saving some green.

  12. ecomonster says:

    protect your new textbooks by making a bookcover with paper bags. cheap and you’re reusing! I rubber stamped mine to add a lil something.

  13. alicia says:

    check out
    if you post books, if someone requests it, you ship it to them at your expense. but you get credit for every book you post and you can get free books too!

  14. NJTomboy says:

    How ambitious are you? If very..then try this.. LOL

  15. cecilia says:

    You can easily turn them into a “Book Box”. Hard back book work better but I have made them out of paperbacks. They just look like books on a shelf but they are a sorce of storage. Remotes, love letters, extra cords/wires, and other things that will fit in the book box. You can find all kinds of “book” projects on line. Good Luck.

  16. Olia says:

    Store them in an attic for extra insulation.

  17. Andrea Togher says:

    You could ship them out to Kwara colledge of Ed. Oro
    Kwara State

    and they will use them in their secondary or primary school.
    I am working with VSO as a volunteer teacher trainer here.
    I know the children in these schools have nothing.

  18. ANNETTE NUNN says:

    Hi I have several books, text books, etc,, what sort of books do you require???

  19. Anonymous says:

    We have a load of old text books that need collecting …. anybody intereested.

    we are in Bromley BR2 8HP

    Pauline at

  20. helen buckoke says:

    We have a load of texts book in the maths department, i was just wondering if you would like them.

    If so could you let me know if someone will collect

    thank you
    helen buckoke

  21. Simply go to and contact us. We are a charity collecting books across the UK to sort and send to East Africa. We’re VERY happy to help :)

  22. Jo Soccard says:

    I have 11 boxes of good condition boxes from our local primary school library – does anyone know of any charity looking to collect such books ? Thanks, Jo

  23. Imran says:

    I am looking for good Maths textbooks with lots of examples (old school type) Work in a Harrow school – budget is tight. Let me know if your school doesn’t want their maths texts. Thanks Imran

  24. We are setting up a library in a secondary school in the Kono district of Sierra Leone and need useable secondhand and new books in all subjects. The school also serves as a hub for local primary schools and rural secondary schools, so books suitable for 4 to 18 year olds, textbooks, reading books, and general interest /reference books all welcome.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hi There

      I have a number of Revison Books in Maths, PE, science and English you could have. Don’t particularly want to post them, too costly. Is there any chance they can be collected? Was going to take them to my local charity but would rather help schools abroad.

      Kind Regards
      Val Devine

    • Valerie Devine says:

      Hi There

      I have a number of Revison Books in Maths, PE, science and English you could have. Don’t particularly want to post them, too costly. Is there any chance they can be collected? Was going to take them to my local charity but would rather help schools abroad.

      Kind Regards
      Val Devine

  25. Tom says:

    I am collecting used/unwanted school text books and equipment for a school in Africa. I would be grateful for any assistance you can provide .I will be happy to come and collect any books or equipment you may have. If you are able to help please can you contact me .

    Yours sincerely


    • Wanda Pearce says:

      Hello Tom,

      I work at a school in Tower Hamlets in London and we have lots of unwanted maths text books for KS3 – KS4. You could collect them at anytime.

      Please let me know if you would like any further information.


      • Tom says:

        Hello Wanda
        Yes , I am interested in the books .I can come and collect anytime which is good for you .


    • Wanda Pearce says:


      I am a maths teacher in a school in Tower Hamlets, London, UK and we are just clearing out our stock cupboard. We have hundreds of old Maths textbooks we no longer need. Would you be interested in these?

    • Robin saunders says:

      We have a great many reading books at our primary school near oxford which have to go . Contact me for more information .

    • Sheryl says:

      Hi Tom

      Are you still looking for (English) textbooks in good condition?

  26. Wanda Pearce says:

    That’s great, Tom.

    We will get them sorted so either Thursday or Friday would be ideal.

    Would you be able to give me a call to talk through the details?


    0798 442 8721

  27. Robin Spencer says:

    School in Cheshire looking to donate a lot of maths text books to a needy home.


    ask for Spence

  28. Anoosh Iqbal says:

    Upcycling old books is so much fun. No one wants through these books in the land-fills when they can still be used. As crafters we should look for more ways to reuse and upcycle. I really liked this Book of Books as well It shares many interesting projects. Altered Upcycling also has an awesome website and lots of free ebook offers if you sign up.

  29. Jean Phillips says:

    I have some old (12 to 30 year old) school textbooks and books on science and maths education i.e. suitable for teachers. Would anyone be interested in them and could they be collected from rural Dorset?

  30. Judith Barnes says:

    We are having a clearout of old text/reading books that our curriculum no longer require. If anyone could make use of them please do not hesitate to contact me. Unfortunately they will need to be collected please.

  31. Kerstin says:

    Hi there,
    Our school is closing this academic year (secondary) and there are many text books which will go to the skip if not taken! Please help to give them a new place. All subjects available.

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