Are eReaders Really Greener Than Paper?

eReaders allow users to read digital books, periodicals and documents of choice on a portable electronic device. The Kindle, released in 2007, is one of the most popular and widely used eReaders on the market and has experienced several updated version launches since its debut. In recent years, a number of companies have created and unveiled their own versions of the product to the general public and users continue to purchase eReaders for portable reading. Users of the popular devices have said that the main advantages to purchasing eReaders and electronic reading devices are for better readability and to save on costs associated with purchasing paperback books and magazines, as well as being more environmentally friendly than books that have hundreds and thousands of pages printed. But are eReaders really that environmentally friendly?

While it is often speculated that the purchase and usage of electronic reading devices will have a major impact to the conservation of forests and our environment, some people have questioned that theory and some studies have suggested otherwise. It is certainly clear that reading books and textbooks electronically will significantly reduce the amount of traditional book publishing and its environmental effects, especially on large textbooks that are used for colleges. But what about all the carbon emissions and production involved with manufacturing electronic devices and how does that compare to the ones associated with publishing textbooks?

The environmental impact of portable reading devices is more commonly becoming a topic of discussion and research, according to an article posted in CNET News. Most researchers and users realize that while these devices don’t use any paper, they still have a significant carbon footprint. Obvious environmental drawbacks of using electronic articles to read include the production of a Kindle producing 168 kilograms of carbon dioxide compared to 7.46 kilograms for a book, the article states. Electronic waste is also a topic of discussion and a growing problem, as there aren’t really too many recycling programs set in place for electronic devices unless users mail their batteries and devices by mail to reduce electronic waste.

But other groups insist that the way readers use the product is going to determine sustainability and that electronic reading devices can make a significant impact once individuals start moving over to them by masses, and replacing the need for printed books and periodicals. They argue that the more users reduce paper media through the use of even a single device, the less everything will be polluted by harvested and shipping physical goods, the article states. And ultimately, it is going to come down to the way the devices are used; if individuals continue to purchase books and newspapers without recycling, the impact on the environment could definitely be negative.

Did you enjoy this article?

AddThis Social Bookmark Button