E-Reader vs. Paperback: Does E stand for Eco-friendly?

E-Reader vs. Paperback: Does E stand for Eco-friendly?

APRIL 2014

Samantha Lawson

As a kid, we fell in love with the stories, the adventure and endless call for imagination. Bedtime just wasn’t the same with the recounting of your favourite story. Although this love for reading may have wondering in the path of adolescence, we’ve reached an age of appreciation for a great read on a Sunday afternoon.


            Along with that reignited spark for reading, we have come to question the impacts of our daily actions of the environment. Society, as a whole, has placed value on eco-friendly behavior. Individual carbon footprints are becoming increasingly affected by the reliance on technology. Although there will be those who cringe at the idea of switching from paperback to digital, it is safe to say that the debate between the two is one to consider.


            The publishing industry has one of the largest pollution rates, with 12.4 million metric tons of carbon emissions for the U.S. market alone, according to a Cleantech study. There are numerous factors that play into the production of books – harvesting of trees, water usage, fossil fuels used in delivery. The study notes that purchasing three e-books per month for four years roughly produces 168 kilograms of CO2 throughout the Kindle’s lifecycle, compared to the estimated 1074 kg of CO2 produced by the same number of printed books. Of course each person has their own reading habits, but the gap between those figures is large enough that even a casual reader would see the benefit from the long life of an e-reader.


            The choice essentially comes down to the reader – through book exchanges, public libraries and used bookstores, there are many eco-friendly options for those who love the physical aspects of an actual book. So if you love to hear that crack from opening a new book or would rather stockpile the classics in one handy device, there are options to allow you to be eco-friendly as you lose yourself in the pages.




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