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3 min.

A Book in Exchange for a Plastic Bottle

A book instead of a piece of trash. A way to correctly dispose of plastic and aluminum and stimulate good reading. An initiative from Michele Gentile, a bookseller in Campania, gains the support of Enel Green Power.

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At the Ex Libris Cafè bookshop in Polla, in the province of Salerno (Italy), waste recycling and reading are two activities that only appear to be distant from each other. 

It is here that the bookseller Michele Gentile launched an original and sustainable initiative, making it possible to buy books in exchange for waste items, like plastic bottles and cans, which can then be recycled correctly.

The idea was especially successful with the youngest visitors, attracted to reading and culture through a simple but important gesture like recycling. Schools, too, immediately caught on to the project. Many of them, even in other regions of Italy, immediately acquired school books in exchange for trash.

Michele Gentile’s initiative, so near to the theme of sustainability, also won us at Enel Green Power over. We support the project by donating books linked to energy, sustainability and environmental protection, distributed with a bookmark, to the bookshop in exchange for waste.

For EGP, which has made sustainability its defining characteristic, projects like Michele’s are a chance to bring young and old closer to the topics of environmental protection and the circular economy.

The Culture of Sustainability

For its creator, the project was the natural evolution of his historic initiative started in 2002 under the name “Suspended Books”. That project – just like the traditional Neapolitan “suspended coffee” – allowed patrons to buy two books, one to take with them and one to leave in the bookshop, available to those who can’t afford it.

In 2016, the bookseller started to exchange books for aluminum cans, an initiative that was then expanded to plastic, thanks to the interest of the recycling consortia. 


“We need a shared commitment in order to change things. And believe me, it would be enough to see the light in the eyes of a child who receives a book in exchange for a bottle and a can to understand how far we could go together. ”

– Michele Gentile, owner of Ex Libris Cafè, Polla (SA), Italy


With this project, Michele Gentile, thanks to the support of EGP and the consortia, now wants to demonstrate the benefits that a good recycling program can bring and move the consciousness of citizens toward more sustainable lifestyles and behaviors. 

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