From an environmental standpoint, introducing e-ink technology into home use, school curriculum, library facilities, and business use provides a win-win scenario with benefits to be had at all angles. Green reading reduces an individual’s literary carbon footprint intertwining human interaction and the planet’s lifespan together on a favorable level. Traditional reading involves a greater cost on so many levels including production, storage, transport, and disposal. Not only must one consider the cost of making and keeping the book, but one must also consider the getting rid of the book once it is no longer wanted.
Electronic Books as an Alternative to Paper Books
Up until recently, electronic books have only been a temporary alternative to paper books. In fact, the creation of e-Books is simply another facet to improvements in digital technology and the need to reach more people more quickly. Nonetheless, developed partially as a means to obtaining a book more quickly than waiting for it to be published in paper format, eBooks were not originally intended to replace hard copies be they paper or fully bound versions in hard cover.
All of that is about to change as authors are beginning to sign on for eBook versions of their books only. Perhaps one of the most famous of these authors is Stephen King who recently agreed to an eBook-only version of his latest publication, “Riding the Bullet.” His eBook-only novella has met with tremendous success and is promoting the way for other such books to follow. Once a novel, novella, magazine, newspaper, or children’s story can only be read as an e-Book, the choice will be an easy one. The use of e-Book readers will become commonplace as a matter of course. According to Digital Book Readers, the changes it would provide for the people and the nature are immense and vast, and certainly worth consideration.
Benefits to Green Reading: Storage and Disposal
Since storage and disposal of e-Books is more environmentally friendly than storage and disposal of traditional books, the environment will benefit greatly from the incorporation of e-Books into daily living patterns. Not only will landfills grow at a less alarming rate, but trees will be cut down less frequently as the need for paper diminishes.
The world’s forests will continue to grow while continuing to provide cleaner, oxygen-rich air. Even if these forests are allowed to grow once they have been cleared for their timber, the result is not as good as it would have been had the forest been allowed to grow. Studies have shown that older, established forests retain more carbon than their newer counterparts. Hence, the environment is better if human interaction with it changes through more responsible use of its resources.
Plus, there are other benefits to be had as well, especially where the production of traditional ink-on-paper books is concerned. Not only does the use of e-Books reduce the need to produce ink, paper, and bindings, but it also reduces the pollution associated with such activity. Moreover, e-Books are easier to transport at a lower financial and physical cost than traditional book transport.
The Facts about Paper Production of Books and Newsprint
According to the Green Press Initiative, the United States is responsible for using more than twenty million trees to produce books each and every year and that figure doesn’t take into account the 95 million trees estimated to be consumed by the newsprint industry each year. As eBook reading grows in popularity, it is hoped that these numbers will be reduced significantly.
The Green Press Initiative has also stated that landfills hold a large amount of paper products to the tune of approximately one fourth of the landfill’s content. As if taking up so much space isn’t bad enough, the decomposition of paper products produces a highly toxic greenhouse gas known as methane gas. So not only does paper production create carbon dioxide emissions during their manufacture, but they also produce methane when they fall into a state of decay. These facts certainly point to a better world with the production of eBooks on a global level.
The Harry Potter series of books, one of the most popular series ever and enjoyed by children and adults alike, is projected to reach a total of 290,000 tons of paper in its production of more than 370,000 million books as estimated by Prime View Inrternational. At a cost of 20 trees to produce one ton of paper to be used in the manufacture of books, this comes at the high cost of 5.8 million trees.
According to the U.S. Book Industry Study Group, more than 12.4 million tons of carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere on an annual basis due to the mass production of books in hard copy format. This boils down to almost 9 pounds of carbon per book that is produced. Talk about leaving a carbon footprint on the world! While significant changes such as increasing the use of recycled paper are being implemented, they cannot compare to the benefits that eBooks and eBook readers can produce.
According to the Green Press Initiative, many of the world’s forests are becoming endangered due to the logging that continues to occur. Indonesia’s tropical forests lose about 4.5 million acres each year to logging, some of it illegally culled. More than 2 million acres of Canada’s Boreal Forest are logged each year with 65% of that going for paper reading and writing products. In the southeastern United States, at least 6 million acres of forests fall prey to logging companies while this area along with 26 million plantation acres is known as the largest paper producing area in the world.