Our sustainability initiativesBetter World Books adopts a companywide green power and carbon-balanced policy. In keeping with Better World Books’ environmentally responsible mission, we have decided to quantify all of the company’s operations and activities summarized in a greenhouse gas inventory (also known as carbon footprint) and fully offset the metric tons of carbon emissions the company generates. By working hard to become a carbon-balanced company, we are continuing to live up to our commitment to being a Benefit Corporation (B Corp) that holds itself to a higher standard when it comes to environmental sustainability. We have a sustainability team in place made up of passionate staff from our U.S. and U.K. offices, as well as consultants who are dedicated to ensuring that Better World Books continues to pursue its sustainability goals. As part of our commitment to environmental sustainability, we never, ever throw away a book. Any book we cannot find a proper home for is recycled. To date, Better World Books has reused or recycled more than 70 million pounds of books — that’s more than 64 million books! We have also reclaimed more than 720,000 pounds of metal shelving from libraries across the U.S. Every BetterWorldBooks.com order has the option to be shipped carbon balanced for just a few cents extra. So far, we have offset 23,000 tons of carbon on BetterWorldBooks.com shipping. We partner with 3Degrees, a leading green power and carbon-balancing firm, to secure verified carbon offsets and renewable energy certificates (RECs) from wind farms. Specifically, we are using our carbon offsets to support the Tatanka Wind Farm, the largest renewable-energy project in the Dakotas. This landmark wind farm will generate enough clean energy to power more than 60,000 homes! According to reputable 3Degrees, we have secured RECs representing the generation of 2,108 MWh of renewable energy and carbon offsets equivalent to 6,514 metric tons of CO2. By matching its electricity usage and emissions with these RECs and carbon offsets, Better World Books will reduce its environmental impact by the equivalent of removing 1,535 cars from the road per year.
How the company startedBetter World Books was founded by two young Notre Dame grads in 2003. Ultimate Frisbee teammates Xavier Helgeson and Kreece Fuchs were told their used college textbooks were of “no value” to their campus library. So, the dynamic duo decided to try out a new website to sell their old books because they could not stand the thought of their books being thrown away. Their experience selling books online was a success. Helgeson and Fuchs decided to make a social impact along with their environmental one and teamed up with the Robinson Community Learning Center in South Bend, IN, to hold a book drive. In their first drive, they collected 2,000 books. Through the sale of the books online, they were able to raise $20,000, half of which they donated to the community center.
Where we are headedTen years and millions of books and bucks later, Helgeson and Fuchs remain deeply involved in the daily life of their startup. Better World Books was a founding B Corp, taking a corporate stand for the triple-bottom-line approach to economy through a new way of doing business. We believe that people and planet are as integral parts of our success as is profit. As a leader in the social enterprise movement, Better World Books was excited to announce our two latest (and perhaps greatest) initiatives: Book for Book and the Drop Box Program. Every single time someone buys a book from BetterWorldBooks.com, we match that with a book donation to someone in need via our partners at Feed the Children or Books for Africa.
Our Drop Box Program is our way of empowering communities around the country to responsibly part with their preloved books. Rather than trash books, millions of people can now simply drop them in our big green boxes. The donated books will be sold online, with part of the funds going to our nonprofit literacy and library partners, donated to Feed the Children or Books for Africa or properly recycled. You can learn more about getting a Drop Box in your community here.
The future is bright for Better World Books. We are passionate about the growing space for business in the social and environmental sectors. Andrew Perlmutter came to Better World Books having served as Division President of Vertrue, Inc., a holding of JP Morgan Chase’s private equity arm, One Equity Partners; Vice President of Sales and Market Planning at LexisNexis, a wholly owned subsidiary of Reed Elsevier; and President of GE Capital Claims Services. Mr. Perlmutter was also a founding board member of Atlanta’s North Metro Miracle League, a nonprofit for the disabled.