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Barnes and Noble faces backlash over photo showing alleged treatment of the chain's excess books: '[They do it] twice a week'

"This is actually the least full I've ever seen it."

Barnes & Noble faces backlash over photo

Photo Credit: iStock

One frustrated Redditor just revealed what happens to the books and magazines Barnes and Noble can't sell: They wind up in the trash.

The r/Anticonsumption subreddit where the post appeared is based on the principle of reducing waste. Too much of what people buy simply ends up clogging landfills or polluting the environment, and this community wants to change that while saving money by avoiding unnecessary purchases.

Barnes & Noble
Photo Credit: u/chasmaniandevil / Reddit

Unfortunately, businesses often waste more than any individual household ever could. This Redditor shared a photo of the incredible waste they said happens "twice a week in the back of Barnes and Noble."

The photo showed a dumpster crammed with reading material — mostly magazines, but books were mixed in, too.

"This is actually the least full I've ever seen it," said the Redditor. "Usually it's spilling over the top. And for some reason, if it's a paperback book, they rip the cover off!"

Unfortunately, this is a common business strategy for many companies. When they have more products than they can sell, they throw out the extra — often damaging the items first so that no one can salvage them. Companies worry that allowing people to get products for free will bring down their sales, so they destroy them, even though it's hard on the environment and it denies people in need the chance to get the items.

The Environmental Protection Agency reports that the U.S. creates 292.4 million tons of waste a year. Once in the landfill, it breaks down, sending toxic heat-trapping gases into the environment. 

In the case of books, Barnes and Noble has extra incentive to destroy unsold copies. 

"They rip off the covers to send back to the publisher for a credit," explained one Reddit commenter.

However, there are many alternatives to just trashing the extra inventory. For example, stores could do what the Pizzaplex pizzeria in Detroit does and track inventory carefully so they only order exactly as much as they can sell. Or, they could sell the extra at a reduced price, as many businesses do using the Too Good To Go app.

Paper products like magazines just might be the easiest product of all to dispose of in an eco-friendly way. As one commenter pointed out, "I hope it's all going to be recycled…?"

Another user replied, "All of the magazines at the one I worked for were recycled by a third party company, mostly so that employees wouldn't take them and resell them."

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