Friday, October 1, 2010

What’s better, reading an e-book or traditional books?

Ask Ida

Dear Ida B. Green,

Is it more environmentally friendly to buy an e-book that has thousands of books available or the actual books that require energy and resources to make, print and transport?



Dear Bookworm,

It depends. If you're reading the gigantic tomes required to complete many college courses, you'd probably do well to have an e-book to lighten your environmental and carrying load for four years. However, if you read a book a month for book club, you'd have to read as many as 60 books before you started to break even with the greenhouse gas emissions produced by making and using your reader. That translates to up to five years for your environmental payback—if you aren't taking hours of battery time to delve deeply into each paragraph.

If you read mostly for pleasure, your best bet is to get cozy with one of our great libraries. Every time a book is read again, its total environmental cost is reduced. A wise choice and a wide selection!

The thing to remember here is that if you're driving to your library or bookstore to get one book, walk, bike, take the bus or make sure to bundle the trip with other errands. A 10-mile roundtrip in your car can create a carbon footprint equal to that of making that one book.

Keep it Green,


—Elizabeth Jeffrey

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