Tuesday, May 24, 2011

5 ways to green your ebook reading

If you one of the millions of readers who read e-books and you're wondering if you can do anything to green up your e-reading, the answer is clear and simple: Yes, you can. Actually, it's very easy.

Here are five simple things you can do to green your ebook reading:

1. Ask Amazon and B&N to follow Apple and disclose the carbon footprint of their e-readers.
Why? Both of them don't provide any sort of information on the carbon footprint of neither the Kindle nor the Nook and hence we have no way to know how eco-friendly these devices really are. Any sustainability journey begins with transparency and Apple is example both Amazon and Barnes & Noble should follow.

This is especially true when it comes to Amazon, which sells the most popular e-reading device, and, as I mentioned many times in the past, has repeatedly ignored requests to provide information regarding the Kindle’s footprint.

What to do? If you own a Kindle, email Jeff Bezos (jeff@amazon.com), founder and CEO of Amazon.com, letting him know you own a Kindle and you would really appreciate if Amazon would disclose the Kindle's footprint just like Apple does. If you own a Nook, write the same request to their customer service at nook@barnesandnoble.com (sorry, I don't have the email address of B&N CEO, William Lynch). Although we're focusing here on the market leaders, please feel free to send similar emails if you have other e-reading devices.

2. Maximize the use of your e-reader
Why? The largest part of your e-reader's footprint comes from its production - for example, about 60% in the case of the iPad 2. It means that when you get your new e-reader, you receive it with much of its footprint already attached to it and even though you can't change that, you can still use it to reduce your reading's footprint by using it as much as possible and hence avoiding the generation of carbon emissions from the printing of new books for example (4.01 kg per book).

What to do? Read ad as many books and magazines as you can on your e-reader instead on paper.

3. Don't replace your e-reader so fast
Why? Because you need at least couple of years of reading on the same e-reader to pass the breakeven point that will make your e-reader a greener option comparing to paper books (about 26 books with the iPad 2 for example).

It's also about efficient use of resources. Buying a new e-reader every year or so might keep you with the most updated version, but will also increase your footprint significantly and will be a very inefficient use of resources.

What to do? Try to keep your e-reader with you at least for 3-4 years. Then recycle it or sell/give it to someone else to use.

4. Buy ebooks at local independent bookstores
Why? Because independent bookstores are a viable part of local economies and making your local independent bookstore stronger will make your community stronger. You can't say that about your local Barnes & Noble and Borders (if there's still one around you) store and certainly not about Amazon.com. Remember that social sustainability is not less important than environmental sustainability.

What to do? Now that Google eBooks Now Sold at 250 Indie Bookstores it shouldn't be a problem. Just go to your local indie bookstore's website and purchase there the ebook you're looking to read.

5. Rent ebooks
Why? Again, it's about maximizing the use of your e-reader and making sure you'll reach the breakeven point that you need to pass to make it a greener reading option. Renting books, whether through your local library or one of the online lending services available now is a great way to make e-reading more affordable, which will result in more e-reading and better and greener use of your e-reader.

What to do? Check if your local library provides this option. Also, check one of the lending services available online - eBookFling, BookLending and Lendle.

For more resources on how green e-books are, check our ebooks page at http://www.ecolibris.net/ebooks.asp

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Promoting sustainable reading!