• John Jantak

Students bring new life to used books


McGill University students Justin Kashi (left) and Armand Khairabadi stand with a selection of used books they collect from donations and redistribute them to schools or other readers, keeping them away from ending up as landfill due to the challenges in recycling books bound with glue.

Two enterprising McGill University students have started a used book collection service that covers several Vaudreuil-Soulanges municipalities and the West Island with the dual purpose of finding a new home for the books they amass while keeping them from winding up in a landfill.

L’Île-Perrot resident Justin Kashi and Pointe-Claire resident Armand Khairabadi launched their book collection service almost two weeks ago and have already received numerous calls from people who are ready to part with their collections and give their books a new home.

Putting books in the hands of new readers

“Our initiative is all about picking up books for free from people who have old books that are cluttering up their houses and don’t need them anymore and want to give them away,” said Kashi. “We pick them up whenever and wherever it’s most convenient.”

Kashi, a biomedical engineering student and Khairabadi, a business student, say one of their objectives is to have the used books they collect wind up in the hands of new readers.

“We’re a student-run project but we’re non-profit. We sell some of the books to cover some student expenses, for example textbook purchases, tuition and transport, but we end up donating over half the books we collect – to libraries, second-hand stores and thrift shops,” said Kashi.

Use books wind up in landfills

Their book collection drive has a second important purpose, to educate people to the fact that even though books may be thrown into a recycling bin, they usually wind up in landfills.

“A lot of books can’t be recycled because of the glue that keeps the books bound together. A lot of recycling facilities don’t have the equipment necessary to remove the binding. Our goal is to give as many books as we can a new home and a second life so that other people can read them,” said Khairabadi.

‘Super positive’ response

The response from people who have tried the used book pick-up service has been ‘super-positive,’ said Khairabadi. “We’ve received numerous requests and messages. We’ve spent the past week going all over the place picking up as many books as we can. A lot of libraries, charities, and foundations have also reached out to us,” he said.

“People say they feel liberated when they give away their books. They say we provide a wonderful service and are glad that someone came to pick them up so that other people will be able to read them again,” said Khairabadi.

A new life for used books

Both Kashi and Khairabadi stressed the importance of not throwing out books.

“The other day we had a call from a school that was planning on throwing out most of their books in their library. They would have wound up in a landfill because of the plastic covers on each book. They were super happy that we were able to provide them with our service and maybe another school will be able to make use of them,” said Khairabadi.

People interested in donating their books can get more information about the service the students provide and how they redistribute used books by visiting Kashi’s Facebook page – log on and type Justin Kashi in the search window.

“They can see what our mission is, what we do with the books, how they can take action to rehome their books and the impact giving away their books has on the world said Khairabadi. “Each book means something. Our motto is ‘Save Landfills One Book at a Time’.”