I found an article over at re-nest about the environmental impact of iPads/Kindles/Nooks vs. traditional books. The article itself seemed to lean more towards e-readers based on the amount of resources used to produce them as opposed to a printed book, with estimates of how many books to download per e-reader in order to break even. While there was a small mention at the end of the article on how checking books out of your local library “spreads the environmental impact of a single book over an entire community,” the comments section was where I found the most intelligent ideas:
• Buy used books and then trade/sell/give them away (assuming you’re not shipping them, I guess).
• Traditional books can be recycled.
• Consider the energy used towards charging your iPad.
• Also consider the average lifespan of electronic devices, and how many times you will have/want to update, thereby wasting energy on creating a replacement device.
• While paper books have a larger one-time impact on the environment, they can last for generations if taken care of properly.
• Consider the jobs lost if the printing industry dies (although, I suppose there are jobs to be had in the electronic device industry – albeit possible child labor in outsourced countries).
• A suggestion that the metals used in the production of these devices come from politically unstable countries (Not sure if this is a fact…).
• Nothing can replace the tactile experience of reading a book.
The point was also made that we could all drive ourselves crazy trying to eliminate our carbon footprint. Reminds me of another article I spotted over at the NY Times called Green, But Still Feeling Guilty, where a number of well-known “greenies” were interviewed to reveal the areas of their life they just couldn’t compromise on. Seems the green straw that most often broke the camel’s back was in the area of cloth-diaper usage…But that’s another subject for another time!
iPad image from re-nest