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The Environment and E-books and Physical Books

Many people only read when required for school or work unless you count the morning newspaper as reading, although many people read daily because of their love for reading and the adventures they come with. However, how healthy are books for the environment and are E-books or physical books better for the environment in a long-term situation?

Both E-books and physical paper copies of books have their own good and bad qualities; however, the question is, which is better for the environment out of those two options? According to Pierre-Olivier Roy on Anthropocene, physical copies of books take up more space and are heavier than E-books.

This means that physical copies of books will take up more space in delivery vehicles which means more vehicles have to be used. If more vehicles are being used, the carbon footprint of physical books would increase due to the moving process. Pierre-Olivier Roy also states that to make physical books, trees are cut down to make paper. This process causes the carbon footprint to increase, and there is also the issue of certain chemicals being used to strengthen the paper and increase its quality.

Pierre-Olivier Roy explains that at the end of a paper book’s life, it will likely be recycled and, in turn, affect the book’s environmental impact. But what about E-books and E-readers? According to Pierre-Olivier Roy, E-readers may not require trees for paper, ink, or glue, and they take up less space; however, E-readers are run by electricity and built with electronic parts that all require resources that can impact the environment.

E-readers have an increased carbon footprint due to their need for electricity to charge, run, and download books. Pierre-Olivier Roy also mentions that E-readers do not last as long as a physical book, and recycling E-readers can cause more issues than recycling paper books.

The website known as EcoBravo shared seven benefits of using E-books rather than physical books. Their first benefit is that by using an E-book, trees will be saved since physical books and newspapers require cutting millions of trees to produce the books.

EcoBravo states that E-books reduce carbon emissions; however, that is debatable according to the information that was shared by Pierre-Olivier Roy on Anthropocene. EcoBravo explains that electronic books use few resources, but is that fact accurate? CIRAIG states otherwise, according to them, the carbon footprint of an E-reader is twice the size of the average person who reads physical books.

The third benefit of E-books, according to EcoBravo, is that it reduces the printing of books. This is a positive benefit because the amount of power required to create physical books increases the carbon footprint of paper books.

The fourth benefit of E-books is that they cause less environmental pollution because they are not using the same chemicals that are required to make paper books. According to EcoBravo, the chemicals and materials that are used to create physical books end up being released into bodies of water. These chemicals being released into the water causes pollution and, in turn, harm the animals that reside in the water.

Another benefit of using E-books is that they save space, which means that there would not be as many delivery trucks transporting physical books and it would lower the carbon footprint. The last two benefits are that E-readers help to reduce waste and save resources.

All in all, there are pros and cons for both physical and electronic books. No matter what, there will always be some sort of carbon footprint as it is unavoidable. It all depends on what form of book you would prefer to read.

Edited By: Hanie Khakpoor


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