How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint While Reading Kindle eBooks
A British environmental auditor has done the calculations. She estimates that readers will save nearly a ton of carbon dioxide each year by reading Kindle eBooks. The production and reading of books account for only a tiny fraction of most people's total emissions. This does not mean that the Kindle is the answer to all our energy needs. Here are some tips to help you reduce your carbon footprint while reading Kindle eBooks.
Inflation-adjusted emissions from reading books
The amount of carbon dioxide that is emitted when you read a paperback book is similar to the carbon footprint produced by watching six hours of television. A typical paperback book produces about one kilogram of CO2e, which is the amount of carbon dioxide that a person would emit over a hundred years. These figures are not affected by the number of books or the manufacturing location. However, the fact that you consume so many books increases the overall carbon footprint.
Environmental impact of reading books
When you think of reading a book, you probably don't think of the environmental impact it has on our world. But we actually consume a lot of books. And printed books are no exception - they require lots of natural resources, which creates a huge carbon footprint. Just one book uses about 2 kilowatts of fossil fuel and releases around 7.5kg of CO2 into the atmosphere. In addition to using natural resources, reading a printed book also requires a great deal of light, which is a significant energy drain. It can be hard to avoid the lights required for reading, especially if you read at night, but they do have an environmental impact.
Electronic devices also pose significant environmental challenges, including battery usage and mining for materials. E-readers also require data centers to store the books, and their shelf lives are much shorter than paper books. Recycling electronic devices is an ongoing problem, as well. But the benefits of reading books printed on paper outweigh the negative environmental impact. Besides the durability of print books, reading on paper also offers better reading comprehension. Regardless of the environmental impact of reading books, it's important to consider the environmental benefits of both reading books in print and digital form.
One of the biggest impacts of publishing books on the environment comes from the paper itself. A paper book requires several kilograms of carbon dioxide, which is about a hundred times less than an e-reader. However, paper books also contribute to deforestation, a major cause of climate change. In fact, up to 14% of deforestation occurs solely for the production of paper goods. Paper production also requires water, energy, and chemicals. For example, one page of paper requires two glasses of water.
As a result of their carbon footprint, printed books use a large amount of fossil fuel. The production of a single paper-based book requires nearly two kilowatts of fossil fuel, resulting in about 7.5 kilograms of CO2 emissions. Additionally, reading a book in bed requires a light bulb that uses energy and creates CO2 emissions. Ebook readers are also much more expensive than printed books, which makes them more accessible to everyone.
E-readers, on the other hand, are more environmentally-friendly than paper books. Reading just one book a day causes as much emissions as six hours of television watching. This is equivalent to about a kilogram of CO2e - an indicator of the amount of carbon dioxide released by a human over the course of a year. However, the consumption of e-books also contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. That means that e-books have a lower threshold for break-even than paper books.
There is an increasing environmental impact associated with reading books, and this trend is only going to get worse if we continue to buy more of them. Our global book consumption has an environmental impact, and this is not just about climate change, but also human health. Moreover, most e-reader users read about 35 e-books a year. Therefore, e-readers are not the most eco-friendly choice.