Paper-based books have a high carbon footprint, but the carbon footprint of e-readers is much lower. Hardcover books, on the other hand, contribute to deforestation, and they are generally less durable. Recycled paper is also beneficial to the environment, and e-readers can grow in size over time, as the libraries grow with the number of titles purchased. Whether you’re a bookworm or not, the environmental impact of books is still not insignificant.
e-readers produce less CO2
If you’re still unsure about the environmental impact of e-readers, read this. A New York Times study shows that they produce less CO2 than books, but the production process is still incredibly energy and water-intensive. While the exact figure is hard to find, it is estimated that each e-reader requires around 100 kilowatt hours of fossil fuels, 33 pounds of minerals, and 79 gallons of water. Moreover, e-readers also require more than twice as much water as books, which means that they use more than three hundred times as much water.
An Amazon representative claims that e-books saved 2.6 million tons of carbon annually, but does not disclose the research or statistics. Nevertheless, the company says that its Kindle subsidiary uses recycled materials to manufacture its new devices. This may be a factor in the overall environmental impact of e-readers. So what can we do to help the environment? First, we should consider our own consumption patterns and choose a product that we know we will use for a long time.
Hardcover books contribute to deforestation
You may already be aware that paper books are made of trees, but did you know that the production of hardcover books can contribute to deforestation? Paper books contribute to global warming by burning about 7.5kg of carbon dioxide – about a hundred times less than e-reader production. However, paper books are still contributing to deforestation – and that’s a big problem. Up to 14% of deforestation is due to the production of paper goods. Paper requires energy, water, and chemicals to make and process. One book page alone requires two glasses of water.
In an effort to improve their environmental impact, publishers have begun to produce recycled hardcover books. But many companies aren’t doing enough. In the U.S., the publishing industry still depends on economies of scale to ensure profits. Even if some big publishers do their part, their paper products can’t be recycled. That’s why they have turned to the Forest Stewardship Council, which certifies paper from sustainable forests.
Recycled paper reduces environmental impact
Recycled paper is an important step towards protecting the environment. Paper is a natural resource and is a valuable resource, but it can also be expensive. Using recycled paper cuts costs and keeps books within the budget of the average reader. In addition, the increased demand for recycled paper has led to a drastic drop in paper prices. The publishing industry needs to focus on transformation to meet the demands of new consumption patterns and address the environmental concerns of the public.
The production of books involves trees that are often cultivated in degraded ecosystems or plantations for the paper industry. Recycling paper helps preserve these forests and lessen the need to harvest new trees. Companies such as Patagonia Books are a good example of companies that are dedicated to environmental sustainability. Patagonia Books also publishes on recycled paper to reduce their environmental impact. However, not all environmental efforts are beneficial to the environment.
Electronic devices have a smaller carbon footprint
Although electronic devices have smaller carbon footprints than books, the environmental impact of reading is still not offset by their use. In the study, Moran calculated that reading 4.7 books per year is equivalent to the same carbon emissions as producing the same number of electronic devices. The study also assumed that people would read fewer than 11 books per day. But there is hope for a more green publishing industry. Some libraries lend out e-readers to patrons.
Recent studies conducted by the Cleantech Group have found that the average electronic device emits a smaller carbon footprint than a conventional book. The Kindle, for instance, offsets its carbon emissions after a year. The research also revealed that e-books are not disposed of in landfills, as conventional books are, but instead recycled or incinerated. The Kindle is more environmentally friendly than other e-book readers.