You may have heard that paperbacks are better for the environment, but they are not. A recent study by the New York Times concluded that e-readers use more coal, water, and fossil fuels than paperbacks, releasing 66 pounds of CO2 per device. Despite requiring a fraction of these resources, books still have a negative impact on the environment. In addition to being a waste of valuable natural resources, e-readers produce toxic fumes, battery fluids, and other chemicals.
Recycled paper is a waste of resources
Recycled paper is one of the most common materials used in the United States. Compared to other waste products, paper is the most widely recycled. Recycling paper reduces the need for virgin natural resources to produce paper and other products. According to Stanford University, paper recycling saves 32,000 trees each year. Further, it saves the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. And because the fiber from recycled paper is renewable, it can be used again to make new paper products.
In addition to saving trees, recycling paper reduces carbon dioxide and methane levels in the atmosphere. When a tree is harvested for paper, it releases more carbon dioxide than it absorbed. The process of producing wood pulp requires more energy than it captures and emits even more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. In addition to reducing greenhouse gases, recycled paper also saves money for communities. It also saves resources because producing recycled paper requires about 28% less energy than making new paper.
Hardcover books contribute heavily to deforestation
There are several reasons why consumers should avoid buying hardcover books. First, they cost more. Hardcovers cost about five times as much as paperbacks, which authors can pass on to the consumer. Also, hardcovers are often released first, before paperbacks. Paperbacks are cheaper and recyclable. Second, they support environmental causes. And third, hardcovers contribute heavily to deforestation.
The Rainforest Action Network (RAN) has released a report highlighting how many children’s books are contributing to the destruction of rainforests in Indonesia. The books contain fiber harvested from Indonesian forests. And, while most consumers understand that paper makes books, they may not be aware of the fact that hardcover books contribute heavily to deforestation. RAN has developed a guide to help consumers choose books that support environmental and social causes.
E-readers produce more CO2 than paperbacks
E-readers produce more CO2 than the average paperback. Paperbooks have a carbon footprint of about 7.5 kilograms and e-readers require 33 pounds of minerals and 79 gallons of water to produce. But paperbacks don’t require as many resources, and using e-readers can help prevent excess CO2 emissions. But the big question is, will they become as popular as paperbacks?
The production of paper books is not only wasteful, but also harmful to the environment. Printed books have to be purchased from local bookstores and libraries, which uses a large amount of fossil fuel. This waste is then discarded into landfills. It is estimated that 25-36 percent of books purchased in bookstores are returned to publishers. This waste results in additional energy to transport and dispose of the books. Even worse, when a book is returned, it still requires energy and water to make it.
The production of an e-reader uses 33 pounds of minerals and requires 79 gallons of water. These materials are usually extracted from mines in Zambia, Australia, and Russia. However, most of the cobalt used in e-readers is sourced from the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has experienced the brunt of colonialism over 400 years. Cobalt mining in the Congo is particularly dangerous because children are often used in the mines. Children are susceptible to developing asthma and pneumonia after they are exposed to the fumes.
E-readers release toxic fumes and corrosive battery fluids
Despite being small and portable, E-readers are still a source of toxic fumes and corrosive fluids. Battery fluids are corrosive and toxic, and if left in the device for a long time, large deposits of powdery corrosion will form. Overcharging batteries also results in leakage of fluid due to the warmth they generate. The fluid expands and drips out through the vents.
E-readers are not the only electronic devices that leak toxic fumes and corrosive batteries. Many people do not realize that the battery fluids released by these devices are harmful to the environment. They are also choking hazards. Children are particularly susceptible to these devices, since they can choke on them. Fortunately, there are solutions to this problem. Here are some tips: