Sustainable Reading| E-Readers Vs Print Books

I’ve always had this thought in my head – is reading on my Kindle or is buying books better for the environment? On the one hand Kindle reading means lesser afforestation but on the other hand it also means more electricity consumption and electronic waste.

An article by Custom Made dwells on this topic and neatly discussed the pros and cons of both types of reading. Here are their recommendations –

What You Can Do

Utterly confused? The good news is that there are a few foolproof strategies to lessen your literary carbon footprint:

  • Buy rarely, or buy used. Whether it’s a book or an e-reader, buying new products always takes a toll on the environment. Whenever you can, borrow or buy used materials.
  • If you do buy an e-reader, use it up. There’s no need to upgrade just because a retailer comes out with a glitzier version. Instead, use your e-reader until it can’t be used any more. That way, you’re helping to pay back the eco-debt incurred by the device’s production. When the device does die, recycle it responsibly. If you buy an e-reader but find that you aren’t using it, sell or give it to someone who will.
  • Buy books online. Large brick-and-mortar bookstores tend to be very inefficient because they stock more books than they sell, which means they end up shipping back a significant chunk of books to their publishers. As a result, books purchased in bookstores generally have a much bigger carbon footprint than their online counterparts (That said, smaller, local stores have big-box stores beat and they’re better for local economies.).
  • Choose recycled books. As with pretty much everything else, choosing recycled helps diminish the environmental impact of making those books in the first place.
  • Choose eco-conscious vendors. Check out this list of publishing vendors who take the environment into account.
  • Be an advocate. Whether you’re Team E-reader or Team Book, it’s pretty clear both sectors of the publishing industry could clean up their environmental act. Use your power as a consumer to call on publishers and e-reader manufacturers to consider the environment at every stage of the production and distribution processes.
  • Decide what matters most. So many factors go into this decision that it ultimately comes down to what you determine to be the most important criteria.
  • Join the library. One of the best options out there for eco-conscious book-o-philiacs is the library. Sharing distributes the environmental impact of a book over a whole community and promotes reuse over new production. Want more bonus points? Walk or bike to the library. [You might want to mention that many libraries now loan out e-books.]


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