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Sustainability: Sustainable Summers


Vendor Selection

When selecting a vendor with sustainability in mind, consider the following:

  • How close is the vendor? 
  • What type of materials are used in their products? Are the materials environmentally friendly?
  • How much do items cost? Working with a smaller business or a business that focuses on environmentally friendly products may cost more. 

Article: Green Swag and Memorable Experiences
     Published in American Libraries. Carrie Smith, June 25, 2021

Blog Post: Sustainability and Children's Services
     Published on the ALSC blog, Erika Hogan, March 3, 2024

Decorating Your Space

Decorating your space is a great way to get into the summer reading spirit! Here are a few ideas to help you incorporate sustainable practices into your decorations.

  • If you use AccuCuts, try using discarded magazines, books, or other paper bound for the recycling to make shapes. Magazine AccuCuts make for a particularly colorful display.
  • Use both decorations that go with the summer theme, as well as general "summer" decorations. The general decorations can be saved and used year after year.
  • Balloons are fun for kids, but not the environment. Click here for ideas on what you can use instead of balloons
  • When purchasing summer decorations, consider how those items will be disposed of, or better yet, reused. Can items be recycled or will they end up in the trash? Can you repurpose items throughout the year? If the decorations are themed, can you modify them for future use?

Prize Ideas

Is it sustainable? Use this self-evaluations developed by the ALA Sustainability Round Table.


Contact local attractions to find out if they are able to donate a gift card or tickets as a grand prize. Examples include:

  • The Castle, Chester
  • Rockland Boulders, Pomona
  • Movie Tickets
  • Virtual Author Visit (visit publisher websites for ideas and pricing)
  • Coupons from local restaurants. Examples include a free slice of pizza or small ice cream cone. (hint: make a certificate that shows the business supports the library for them to display)
  • New York Comic Con passes (availability varies from year to year)


Reusable Items

Give practical and reusable items as prizes such as:

  • Water bottle
  • Lunch bag
  • Backpack
  • Notebooks, pencils, other school supplies
  • Books
  • Art supplies
  • Clothing


Environmentally Friendly

Stay away from items that will be used once or twice only to end up in a landfill. Try some of these instead:

  • Seed growing kits
  • Locally sourced food such as unusual fruits and vegetables, granola, or other snacks (hint: be aware of allergy information)
  • Organic self-care items such as lotion, body scrub, or shampoo
  • Thrifted prizes (be sure the items are clean and disinfected/ washed)

Ideas from the Field

The following ideas are from RCLS member library staff:

  • Book subscription boxes: Many subscription boxes will donate a box to use as a prize. You can keep it all together or a big prize, or separate items for smaller prizes.
  • But discounted books from First Book
  • Digital download codes for games
  • Pokemon trading cards. Bonus: If you have a Pokemon club, giving cards as a prize will also help advertise your program!