When do eBooks out-“Green” paperbacks?

This has been a question that I’ve been wondering about for some time.  As an avid reader with a habit of finishing at least a book or two per week, I’ve often wondered if, as seemed logical from a knee-jerk instinctive point of view, I was actually saving resources by switching away from printed material in favor of a Kindle. I’m sure many of us have. The answer is a little bit surprising.

A recent article broke things down for me in terms of resource extraction, environmental impact of manufacturing and transportation, energy usage and disposal, within the limits of general understanding since the composition and manufacture of individual screen types and such are often not a matter of public record. Apparently, depending on what factors you choose to gauge your green-ness, an eBook Reader gains the edge after between 50-100 books. This seemed like a lot at first glance, but since that’s about a year of a book per week(not something I consider an unreasonable rate of consumption) it’s easily less than what I plan in the life of any eBook Reader I might happen to pick up. That doesn’t even begin to take into account the resource savings on things like periodical and newspaper subscriptions, which are an area in which the Kindle shines.

It might be a small change, but it’s nice to be aware that in a world increasingly aware of resource deficits and “green guilt” hitting me left and right, I can be proud of this rare intersection of technical convenience, enjoyment, and ecological soundness. Not quite as proud as if I were to start walking to the used book store every week instead, but we all have to start somewhere, right?

2 thoughts on “When do eBooks out-“Green” paperbacks?”

  1. I believe it really depends on where you get your paperbacks. I normally purchase from library used book sales, and that is reuse at its best.

    where my kindle comes into play is when I purchase new books or periodicals. If someone has a subscription to a couple of newspapers, there is alot of waste that can be avoided by reading on an e-reader.

  2. Second best to walking, is ordering a used book online. The package delivery system is extremely efficient, in terms of CO2/energy. One is probably better ordering a used book from the opposite coast, than driving to a used book store locally. Plus it employees people and helps the economy – ebooks cut out a lot of jobs.

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