The Low Down On Green Living
August 27th, 2009
We love our Kindle, and for many reasons. No more newspaper deliveries at 5AM or cold walks outside to pick them up. I can bring 15 books on vacation without slipping a disc. And my bedside table no longer looks like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. But a recent study seems to confirm another reason why I love the Kindle (and I’m sure why I’d love Sony’s equivalent): it’s lighter on the environment than our tried-and-true paper books, newspapers and magazines.
The Cleantech Group, in a report published a couple weeks back, quantified the carbon and tree protection benefits of using a Kindle vs. having books shipped to you (or, even worse, driving to the store and buying one), and came up with some pretty staggering numbers: an average e-Book reduces physical book purchases by about 23 books a year, with carbon dioxide savings of about 370 pounds per year (via Earth2Tech.com). If you combine that per-unit number with sales projections for e-Books over the next few years, the Cleantech Group estimates that e-Books could cut carbon dioxide emissions by 500,000 tons in 2010 and 3.1 million tons by 2012.
Why such large numbers? Think about the path a book takes from the forest to your home:
- Trees are cut, transported and processed into paper;
- Paper is shipped to book printers/publishers, often across the globe;
- Books are shipped to retailers via a multi-tier distribution system;
- You then either purchase a book in a store (and drive to get there), or have a book shipped to you.
The savings above DO take into account the carbon costs of producing an e-Book reader. According to Earth2Tech, the carbon dioxide emissions that come from making and transporting a Kindle are around 370 pounds, meaning that you begin saving carbon dioxide once you’ve used your Kindle for a year (assuming you read 23 books - read more, and you begin saving sooner). And, if you read newspapers or magazines on your Kindle, the savings are even greater given the short lifespan and high weight of your typical periodical.
Similar logic applies to downloading music electronically, so you can also feel good about grooving to your favorite tunes on an iPhone as well. Read more about that in this article from Earth2Tech.
+ via Earth2Tech
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