From Books to Toilet Paper

- by Michael Stillman


Books are ripped apart to be recycled.

There is an old joke about what you can do with old books you don't need, or never were worth reading in the first place. You can put them in the bathroom where the pages can be put to appropriate use, one at a time. Well, maybe it isn't just a joke after all. It is the destination for a lot of old books, text books no less, according to angelonline of Ghana. So much for the value of learning.


The problem arose after the Ghana's National Council for Curriculum and Assessment decided to update the standard textbooks for their schools. The publishers still had shelves filled with the old versions. They petitioned the Council to let them use up the old editions first, claiming there wasn't that great a difference between the old and new ones. The Council turned them down. They also requested the old books be sent to outlying rural areas, on the grounds that these schools often don't get any books at all, but they did not get a response. They also offered them to others, but it appears no one wants the older textbooks.


Asare Konadu Yamoah, President of the Ghana Book Publishers Association, revealed, “in our bid to empty our warehouses and create space for the new curriculum-based textbooks, we have sent all those ‘old’ books to the paper mills to be turned into toilet rolls.” He continued, “as a business person I need the space and the only option available to me is to send the old supplementary text books to the mill for toilet roll production.”


It should be noted here that they are not simply placing books in bathrooms, their covers serving as toilet paper dispensers. They are being pulped, made into something softer than the typical leaf from a book. Recycled toilet paper might not quite be up to the standards of the Charmin bears, but it isn't as coarse as a page from a book. But, undoubtedly we will hear jokes from those schoolchildren about what their schools can do with those boring textbooks.