Bookseller gives away free books to children in Italy who bring plastic bottles and cans to recycle

A Southern Italy-based bookseller is encouraging children to read while doing something for the environment by offering free books to those who bring him one plastic bottle and one aluminum can to recycle.

Michele Gentile, who founded the Ex Libris Cafe bookshop in Polla, a small town near Salerno, told CNN his goal is to spread passion for books and a love for reading among those people in Italy who do not usually read, while at the time helping the environment.

He said: “I hope the initiative becomes so viral that it affects the whole country. It will be revolutionary, not only for the planet but also for the education of children and their job prospects.”

The idea for the plastic/metal exchange for books came to Michele Gentile while he was looking at a huge pile of metallic waste left abandoned on a field. Having arranged for a recycling centre to collect the metal waste, the bookseller in return received 2 quintals ($564) from the recycling centre – enough to buy books for a whole class. He explained to CNN: “So, I thought: Why not (give) away books to kids who bring me plastic bottles and cans?”

Michele Gentile’s initiative is opened to individuals as well as schools. News of the scheme has reached northern Italy, where children from Bordighera, in the Liguria region, has sent the bookseller 23 bottles and 23 cans to recycle.

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about sustainable lifestyle and green living for publications, and offers content services to planet-friendly businesses. Find out more at 


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