Happy Earth Day. Save a tree – read an e-book

In keeping with the theme of Earth Day, it seems appropriate to examine the carbon footprint of the book publishing industry. Every year about 20-million trees are cut down to produce the virgin paper for books sold in the United States alone. Here’s an interesting commentary on this topic:

College students purchase about a tree per year in textbooks

Purchasing your textbooks will not only burn a hole in your pocket, but it will also destroy the environment. According to the Green Press Initiative, over the past three years the U.S. book publishing industry has consumed an average of 20 million trees per year to print books sold in just the U.S alone. Publishing companies have become a top contributor to the destruction of forests world wide.
“The global impact of this is rather mind-boggling,” says treehugger.com. For instance, if a publisher sells a million copies of a 250-page book it will take 12,000 trees just to produce the necessary amount of books for this one title. By producing new editions of Textbooks every year publishers are destroying the environment to fatten their pockets. Just think about the amount of trees killed to produce enough textbooks for every student at every college & University. It gets worse…
The Green Press Initiative estimates that nearly 40% of the materials found in landfills are paper products. As this paper degrades, it produces methane—a greenhouse gas with 21 times the heat trapping power of carbon dioxide that eats away at our atmosphere. Each time a student buys a new book they are contributing to these numbers. It’s time to make a difference.
Chegg commits to planting a Tree for every textbook rented from us. http://www.chegg.com/EcoFriendly

A company called ecolibris (http://www.ecolibris.net/) aims do something similar to offset book purchases. Their tagline reads: “Every book you read was once a tree. Now you can plant a tree for every book you read.” Basically, the concept appears to be that you send them money, and they arrange for some trees to be planted in several developing nations (10 trees for $10 U.S.) They then send you some Eco-Libris stickers to put in the books you own (presumably one for each book read and tree planted). Other than that, there doesn’t appear to be any particular connection to books; it could easily be, “plant one tree for each gallon of gas you buy”, “each KWh of electricity you consume,” etc. But the thought process at least gets people thinking about the environmental impact of paper consumption.

If one really wanted to have an immediate an measurable impact on the carbon footprint of the publishing industry, one could simply migrate all book purchases to e-books. Just like that, we could save 20 million trees a year. Not to mention the cost of fuel to ship thousands of tons of paper across the globe. Think of the effect on the Amazon rain forest (not to mention on the other one, founded by Jeff Bezos).

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One Response

  1. Hi Dad

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