06 May 2016

Reading in an eco-friendly way.

Several years ago, when the ebook reading industry really started to take off, there were a lot of questions around the topic of eco-friendliness. And frankly findings weren't that much in favour of ebooks.
Just check this infographic:

To be honest, looking at the above, it's hard to disagree that ebook readers are less eco-friendly.

But I took a different approach. My paper library is easily 500 books strong (I have never counted them TBH so there may be more. I have to pack them in three rows on my shelves to be able to keep at least 1/4th of them at home. Rest sits in my parents' cellar and my storage. No, I don't have a library room.
With that many books (and I stopped buying them en-masse around 2005) I am probably guilty of devastating a small forest. And at some point that year, I have bought one or two books which gave me an unpleasant feeling that this level of writing doesn't deserve recycled pulp made into paper, not to mention trees.

And that's when I decided I will never buy a paper book again unless something is so grand that I will HAVE to own it in a paper, ideally also album version.

I got myself an Amazon Kindle then and I still have it (the old fashioned one, version 1), but nowadays I rarely use it. It will never get replaced because frankly even if it dies completely, it will make for a very cool picture frame.

So what do I use? My mobile. There are so many apps to read books, newspapers and magazines today that it makes no sense whatsoever to buy an e-reader.
My electronic library at the moment holds 1450 books and grows steadily; which means that I could be generating more carbon dioxide per year than a small factory if those were real books.
But since my mobile is a utility I would get anyway, not a single tree suffered for those books.
Maybe some in the process of supplying people working for the ebook business, but they would drink coffee regardless, so no harm there.

Hence, the whole debate about e-readers being less eco-friendly becomes mute.
I have no ebook reader; I don't buy paper books anymore. Mycarbont footprint in that matter is possibly the smallest possible. And I ask you to think about it.

But - you might say - not all books come in an electronic version!

Reduce, reuse, recycle - is my answer.

Do you have a library card? How about trying one of the plethoras of book swapping applications?
Did you even know there are many? There are also websites where you can exchange as well.

It is also a perfect place to find books in foreign languages, unabridged and originals.

Keep reading in a 0waste way!
I know that the tactile pleasure of holding a real book and turning the pages in incomparable to paper, but is it really THAT important to someone who cares for the environment?


  • If you read a lot, consider switching to electronic versions.
    You will save environment in the long run, as long as you also:
    1. Don't buy e-readers. You most likely already have a tablet or a mobile. You don't need an extra device just to read stuff.
    2. Look for second-hand books if you have to have them on paper (only acceptable explanation is if they are not available in electronic version, though),
    3. Join a library, not only will you support local community this way, but save environment,
    4. Check book exchange websites and applications
  • If you have to buy a new book, choose eco-conscious vendors. Companies that use recycled paper and don't pollute ecosystems,
  • Speak up! Use your power as a consumer to make publishers and e-reader manufacturers to become more environmentally friendly, at every stage of the production and distribution processes,
  • It's much easier to find legal free ebooks and save a lot of money while still having something to read,
  • You can often share or download ebooks to various devices, such as your desktop, mobile, laptop, tablet, making it easier to keep up.