E-readers are provoking a highly-heated debate among better-read environmentalists.
Gadget-lovers are quick to point out that the printed word causes 125 million tress to be taken down every year in the US. But book-lovers retort that e-readers take more energy to produce, consume more energy to use, and create an even greater waste problem when thrown away.
Several studies on the topic have concluded that it really all depends on how many books you read, though they differ on the number. One study suggested that one would have to go through 40 e-books each year to come out ahead, while another said 23 was the number, and a third concluded that the carbon produced in making each e-reader would be recovered by trees it left standing within one year.
But those findings have not come close to ending the dispute. “I place most of my bookshelves on outside walls,” a bibliophile posted on the Sierra Club website. “There is no better insulation against heat and cold, and it saves a bundle on paint or wallpaper.”
But most conclude, Lean writes, the greenest way to read is the old-fashioned way: Get your books — from the library.