Thursday, July 28, 2011
How to Be a Tree Hugging Book Lover
My lament about the closing of Borders and the decline of the print book generated online comments and an offline conversation about the environmental impact of books versus e-readers. You might assume that digital reading is greener than print reading, but the reality is not so simple. According to Eco-Libris, an organization promoting sustainable reading, the carbon footprint of an e-reader is about 15 to 20 times that of one newly purchased book. Taking into account factors such as production materials, waste and recycling efforts, and health effects on workers, the environmental impact of one e-reader could equal the impact of as many as 40 books (based on several reports compiled on the Eco-Libris site). Bottom line: The greener option depends upon your reading habits and the frequency with which you replace electronic devices. If you’re an avid reader (or more to the point, a regular purchaser of new books) and you intend to keep the same e-reader for several years, an e-reader makes sense from an environmental standpoint. If your book-buying and electronics-consuming habits are more in line with the average American’s, print books are probably the greener choice for now.