Categorized | Self-Publishing

The Environmental Impact of Ebooks and Printed Books

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The Environmental Impact of Ebooks and Printed Books

The impact ebooks have on the environmental is far less than that of printed books in a variety of ways. According to the research study conducted by Consuming Australia, for every dollar we spend, 720 grams of greenhouse gas is emitted into the air. It takes 28 liters of water to publish a traditional paper back book.

Ebooks are becoming more and more popular amongst those who have a deep concern for the environment. Why? Publishing books using digital technology save trees. The information is written in a word document and stored on the Internet or a file server. Ebooks can be easily downloaded or distributed in an email over the World Wide Web. . Ebook do not take up any physical storage space on book shelves. Since you do not need physical transportation to distribute eBooks into the marketplace it means big savings for the environment.

Carbon Foot Print of Printed Books Affects the Environment

A printed book makes a much bigger carbon footprint than an eBook. Let me explain further. Every aspect of making a traditional book impacts the environment, here’s how:

  • The Ink and paper used to create a book
  • Energy used to create publish a book
  • Packaging of the book for transport
  • Cost of transportation to a warehouse and bookstore

For you as a shopper, buying a book impacts the environment by the energy consumption and gas emission from your drive to the bookstore to the bag it is placed in. This doesn’t even begin to consider the energy consumed in the marketing of the book and the running of the store itself.

Gas and Greenhouse Emissions of Printed Books

For every gallon of gas you use on your trip to and from the bookstore, you create 22 pounds of greenhouse emissions. This number is even higher for the trucks and airplanes used in transporting the goods to the store. The bookstore uses energy to light the store, to climate control it and much more in order to sell the books you buy. Marketing means additional environmental impact from lighted signs to brochures, ads and pamphlets. Each makes a carbon footprint. Even if you skip the bag it is placed in at the sales counter or order a book online, there are still many environmental effects of the books themselves like packaging paper and materials.

How Many Trees Does it take to Make a Book?

About 30 million trees are used annually in the making of books. Attempts have been made by the publishing industry to be more environmentally friendly. Books made with recycled paper have made less than half the impact on the environment as ones that have new paper in them. A Composite Environment Impact Index, CEII, was comprised to quantify the carbon footprint of a variety of things. Recycled paper production uses 170.07 pounds. Paper pulp made from wood makes 298,562 pounds of impact. Regardless of whether a book is from recycled or virgin paper, it makes a much bigger environmental impact than an ebook.

Other Environmental Factors of Printed Books and Ebooks

Another environmental aspect to consider is what happens to printed books with time. Unfortunately, when books come to the end of their usefulness, people don’t always choose to do the right thing. There are 37 million tons of paper thrown away on a yearly basis that could be reused and recycled. Many of those books that end up in landfills are paperbacks which have never been read. The cover is torn off and the retailer gets credit for not having sold the book, while the remainder of the book typically goes in the trash.

Ebooks consume energy in order to be read. If you choose to invest in an electronic reader, there is the environmental impact of the production and purchase of that product to consider. However, a reader is used with countless ebooks, making it a product that reduces waste because it is being used over and over. The amount of energy consumed in the reading of an ebook is minimal when compared with even the commute to the bookstore.

Ebooks stand out as an environmentally good choice. Anytime an ebook can replace a printed book, the earth breathes a little easier.

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