Kindles are environmentally friendly because they save million of paper and production use. The kindle can hold to about 22 books, imagine how many books will be saved. It also saves to about 168 kg of CO2 per year. Author and reported Emma Ritch states that, “Multiplied by millions of units and increased sales of e-books, e-readers will have a staggering impact on improving the sustainability and environmental impact on one of the world’s most polluting industries: the publishing of books, newspapers and magazines.”
Books and magazines published in the U.S. wastes about 125 million trees and the average carbon footprint of 7.46 kilograms of CO2 over its lifetime. Making books creates carbon emission.
For many people, the Kindle is very environmentally unfriendly. It’s a high-tech device that has an extraordinary cost to manufacture, and which consumes electricity every time it’s used.
Americans on average read something like 10 books a year. (See citation in URL.) Of those books, of course, many are borrowed, lent from libraries. And many more could be, if being ecological was the top goal.
Charging a low-end Kindle costs 1.5 amp hours, for about a week’s typical usage. This is not an insignificant amount of electricity.
So say a typical American reads 5 Kindle books a year. And say the Kindle’s lifespan, before it breaks or “needs” to be replaced is … let’s be fair … 3 years. That means that a typical Kindle will be used to read 15 books. A low end Kindle purchased from Amazon is $79 (as of 2/2012). The electricity used over 3 years … perhaps something like $100. So each book typically read costs something like $179 / 15. That is, over $10 per book.
That’s hardly a savings over checking out a library book. It’s not even a savings over buying paperbacks full price in a bookstore.
All other things being equal, more cost means more environmental impact. Books, made out of renewable, recyclable paper, are inherently more ecological than high-tech devices made from non-replenishable minerals, many of which are only a few decades from being exhausted.
So yes, there are people who read dozens of books a year, for whom the Kindle is a godsend. But no, statistically, on the average, they are an environmental disaster.
(And that’s not even considering buying one of the more expensive Kindles.)
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