Depends on how many books you read and how often you replace your kindle. Books can be recycled, while the kindle can be partially recycled with most of it going to e-waste.
It is estimated that the average book is responsible for 8.85 pounds of carbon emissions while the creation of an Amazon Kindle is responsible for 370 pounds of carbon emissions, not including the energy needed to charge the Kindle after batteries run out. That puts the Kindle equal to about 40 books.
By accounting for offsets, it is estimated that if you purchase under 30 books for the Kindle, printed books are better for the environment. If you purchase between 30-60 books, the effects are ambiguous. It is probably more green to use a Kindle if you purchase over 60 books.
Kindles require energy for as long as they are being used while books stop needing it after they’re produced. Also, books can be resued for a very long time if they are treated well where kindles will ultimately need to be thrown out after they break (as most electronics do…). I’m personally a fan of having a real book in my hand, so I try to buy second-hand books if I can’t check them out a library to be less wasteful.
Well, I’ve purchased over 50 books for the kindle (most of them are in cheap bundles) and I’ve had it for half a year, not to mention all the books I’ve gotten for free. They are automatically sent to the device. I mean, if you have to go out and get the book, you’ll end up wasting energy in that way. As phillius said, some of it is recyclable, and who knows? maybe it will be completely recyclable in the near future. I know this doesn’t really address the question, but, in light of the direction of the dialogue, I felt it needed to be said.
I’m of the opinion that there is no greener way to read than book swapping or buying used books. Their are some great used book stores out there (and libraries!! please let’s not forget the libraries!) and while I would love it if authors could continue getting paid to write books, they are expensive and can create waste to buy new (like everything). With a kindle you’ll be using plastic and electricity and the energy consumption won’t stop till it breaks; with a used book the energy consumption isn’t even really a factor (especially if you can walk to the store), plus a book is biodegradable, and a plastic kindle is not.
Regular books can be more environmentally friendly than e-readers if the books are made from sustainable and non-toxic materials and processes. E-readers may save a lot of trees over time, but the materials and energy that go into making one is quiet intense. Electronics are made from non-renewable heavy metals and plastics that are harvested in unsustainable ways. Workers are exposed to toxic and hazardous materials. E-readers don’t last forever. When they become trash, they are like any other e-waste with many land, water and air impacts. Books can outlive e-readers. It is best to read them from libraries, used bookstores or borrowed from friends and peers. I think as long as regular books are treated as disposable products, they are be sustainable.
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