Habitat for Humanity turning books into fire logs near Nanaimo

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A fire log made out of a recycled book is shown.

Mid-Island non-profit society Habitat for Humanity is helping keep books out of the Nanaimo landfill by turning them into fire logs.

One night, Habitat for Humanity’s Mid-Island executive director Jeff Krafta woke up from a dream with an idea on how to reduce waste.

“There are really no avenues for people to get rid of books at all, and if you think about the type of books that people have, nobody else wants, like encyclopedias. Nobody wants an encyclopedia anymore,” said Krafta.

Wanting to start a new chapter on how to recycle books, Krafta thought to grab some literature that nobody was using, take off the bindings, shred and pulp the paper, and then shape it into a fire log.

Krafta says they burn brighter and hotter than the average log and are perfect for campfires.

SEE ALSO: Waste Pickers are helping solve Greater Victoria’s recycling problems

While the old books can be turned into fire logs, Krafta stresses that not all recycled books are destined to be burned.

Habitat for Humanity is working with the Rotary Club of Nanaimo to recycle old reads from the group’s highly popular book sale.

Nanaimo Rotary president-elect Carey McIver is on the group’s environmental committee, and she says she’s thrilled to know that some of the Rotary book sale waste is being re-purposed.

“The books that we circulate back into the system come back to us – eventually they are unwanted,” she said. “We have to cull the books and rather than them going to disposal we really are trying to find other markets and other uses. What Habitat for Humanity is doing is really closing the loop.”

Habitat for Humanity received $60,000 in funding from the Regional District of Nanaimo’s zero waste recycling fund in 2023 and an additional $80,000 that was granted this year to keep the project going.

For those who might be raising an eyebrow about “burning books,” Nanaimo Councillor Ben Geselbracht is confident that this is the right choice for the environment.

“I think, ultimately, between burning them to help out families stay warm, or sitting in a landfill sort of decomposing and just filling up valuable space, I think this is definitely a higher, better use,” said Geselbracht.

This year, the project’s goal is to divert 25,000 books from the landfill. The fire logs are still in the development stage as Krafta and Habitat for Humanity look for an affordable way to automate the process.

READ MORE: ‘Wonderful resource’: Habitat for Humanity opens new ReStore facility in Saanich

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