Last year I did a post during the A to Z challenge titled Green Writer. It was about the pressure our planet is under environmentally and how writers, and writing, can and do impact on our environment and how we can lower any harm we do. I think this past year has shown that the issues our planet faces have not gone away.
There is a very complex system around our planet that keeps it ticking over. Atmosphere, clouds, and ice all effecting the albedo, which is the percentage of the sun reflected back into space, which sets our earth temperature. One of the many gases in the atmosphere which keep our planet warm is CO2, but as you know, we are now emitting an awful lot of CO2 and this in turn is effecting the albedo and creating the added warming effect which is what you hear being so often talked about.
Since writing that post a year ago, I have wanted to write a post from the opposite viewpoint, that of the reader.
This is that post.
Reading books has changed beyond recognition in the last seven years, with the evolution of the ereader.
As a writer, I know I like to read as much as I can. In fact my goal on Goodreads this year is to read 70 books as last year I managed to read 61 and I want to push myself further. But, bearing in mind last years post on being a Green Writer, I wanted to consider how I can be a Green Reader. My reading habit consists of reading my books on my ereader as well as going into bookshops and buying paper books. I like to do both and generally alternate between the two formats as I’m reading. Though with the ease of night-time shopping online my TBR pile of books on my ereader is much higher than my bookshelf, which isn’t so inconsiderable itself.
So, with that being said, we need to look at which is more environmentally friendly I suppose. Paper books or electronic devices?
Many publishing houses have environmental policies on their websites and are signed up to the FSC – Forest Stewardship Council.
Why does this matter within books and publishing? Well, trees are cut down for the paper to create the books and this great video below explains it brilliantly, but is 8 minutes long. It is worth watching, but I know you may only be stopping by quickly on the A to Z, so maybe come back when you have chance?
So many books are being made from sustainable forests now and we know that forests use up our CO2 and emit O2. They’re important.
Kindle are the grandfather of the ebooks and have apparently been quite shy in providing data in relation to environmental impact on the making of the electronic readers. Though it has been said (Cleantech) that reading 22.5 books on a Kindle (I’m using Kindle as it’s the most bought reader) offsets any environmental impact it has with its recharging and toxic waste. So as an avid book reader, I feel pretty safe in that respect.
Using an ereader also has the convenience of downloads, saving on transportation costs and not just distribution to sellers, but buyers, thereby reducing carbon emissions.
End of Life – Landfills.
A huge amount of paper ends up at landfill. Paper though biodegradable, produces methane as it decays. Methane is a Greenhouse gas.
EReaders will be dismantled and parts taken out for recycling, but beware on what the phrase recycling means.
What can you do as a reader?
Making a distinction between which is the most environmentally friendly way of reading, is not as simple as a person might imagine, so it goes on personal preference for now. But whatever your preference, there are things you can bear in mind.
- Look for books/publishers that use FSC sustained forests for their books.
- Books can be recycled before final end of life at the landfill. Pass a book to a friend, a charity shop, or your local library – Yes, they do take good condition books!
- Check your settings on your ereader and have it set up to save the battery. Mine is set for flight mode. It can’t access the internet to download the new books I’ve bought on my laptop or phone, until I turn it on for 5 minutes especially to do it.
- If you have an ereader, make use of it! Read lots, it’s easy to transport about. Take it places and make use of it. Make it so that you pass that environmentally friendlier mark.
This is a massive topic and I’ve tried to shrink it down. These are some of the sites I’ve used to help me research. I apologise, any errors I’ve made are my own.
Psychology Today, The Guardian Books, The FSC,