Recycle Old Books Through Penn Programs

October 10, 2011

We know that the knowledge that comes from reading can last a lifetime. But even the value of the physical book can extend long after you are finished with it. Using any of the below options increases the useful life-cycle of the books and reduces the likelihood that that they will end up in landfills.

Sometimes these services result in saving money by allowing individuals to get cash-back for their original purchase or by making used books available for a discounted price. In other instances, the books are provided to charitable organizations that make them available to those who have need. Collectively these practices promote both sustainability and social responsibility.

  • Penn Bookstore: At the end of each semester during final exam weeks, the Penn Bookstore holds its "buyback" event where you can receive up to 50% of the price paid for textbooks. This includes books purchased through other vendors. In addition to getting cash back your books could then become available for students in future semesters, providing them a more affordable textbook option.
  • UA/IFC Book Bazaar: Penn’s Undergraduate Assembly and the Inter Fraternity Council operate an online website where Penn students can sell their textbooks. Students can list books for sale or purchase books by searching the site by book title, author, course name, course number, and ISBN. All transactions occur outside Penn Book Bazaar. The seller can be contacted either by sending a message in the contact box (under each book) or emailing directly. Responses are sent to an individual’s Penn email address where the price and the logistics of the exchange can be confirmed.
  • PennMOVES: For the past four years, Penn Business Services has conducted PennMOVES, a move-out recycling and re-use drive, with the goal of reducing waste and preventing usable items from going to landfills. Since 2008, over 350,000 pounds of material has been diverted from landfills and over $65,000 has been raised for charities from the sale of these items. In 2010 Penn partnered with GoodWill industries to operate the sale and receive the proceeds. PennMOVES accepts the donation of any type of book.

In addition there are numerous agencies, both local and national that specialize in book re-use/recycling. Penn will work with these agencies to ensure that the books are processed in a manner consistent with the University goals for sustainability as detailed in our Climate Action Plan as well as for social engagement outlined in the Penn Compact.


The 2014 Power Down Challenge resulted in a combined savings of over 35,000 kWh across campus –enough to power 3.3 homes’ electricity for one year.

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