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Is Kindle & Audible Better For The Environment?

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    Shaun Forest

The majority of us are stranded at home, and have been for at least a few weeks. We seek all kinds of time-filling hobbies and amusement while we're "bored in the house and bored in the house."

Reading has been one of my favourite quarantine activities, particularly books about climate change.

After spending so much time at home recently, I began to consider the environmental impact of my activity.

Should I read books on paper or on an e-reader like the Kindle? Is it preferable to listen to audiobooks rather than reading them on a screen? I performed some research after being confronted with all of these seemingly existential problems, and I'm here to show you what I discovered.

Kindle vs. Paper Books

At first glance, we may believe that "e-readers are much more ecologically friendly, and we only need one!," but the truth is a little more nuanced.

First and foremost, we must consider the e-manufacturing. reader's The raw materials and manufacturing process for an e-reader (energy and water) are equivalent to creating 40 or 50 physical books.

This may lead us to believe that if we read more than 50 books on our e-reader, we are already saving the earth. Again, it's not that easy. The emissions produced by a single e-reader, including the energy required to charge it, are equivalent to nearly 100 conventional books.

So here's the quick response:

Is it better for the environment to use a kindle?

If you read 100 books on your e-reader before upgrading, you have the same impact on the environment as if you were reading new physical books. You are already making a beneficial influence if you read more than that.

Audiobooks vs. Paper Books (like Audible)

Audiobooks have the smallest environmental impact of all. To begin with, no tangible thing is required (like the book or the e-reader). On your phone or laptop, you may just listen to them.

True, audio files are likely to be larger than text files, and data storage has an environmental impact, but this is more than likely offset by the lack of physical transit or shipment.

In terms of energy consumption, charging your smartphone every day while listening to an audiobook is unlikely to result in significant waste.

Some ideas may be running through your mind right now after reading this: "but I love the scent of paper books," "I can't focus on a book solely by listening," or even "I don't enjoy reading on screens."

Hold on! Even if you are not ready to make a significant adjustment to your reading device, there are still options.

What Are Some Tips For Being An Eco-Friendly Reader?

  1. Borrow instead of buying! The most ecologically responsible alternative is to borrow a real book from a library or a friend. It's already been printed, and there's no need for you to read it as well.
  2. Swap or buy secondhand. You are not contributing to the manufacturing of a new book, thus this is also a carbon-neutral option. Many cities across the world already conduct book swapping events, where you can bring books you've previously read and trade them for ones you'd want to read.
  3. Don't discard away books! Donate a book to a friend, a library, or a charitable organisation if you no longer desire it.
  4. If you're going to invest in an e-reader, make it worthwhile. Before upgrading, make sure you've read at least 100 books on the subject. Use it till it quits working, if possible.
  5. Purchase from environmentally responsible providers. Supporting a small local business or looking for eco-friendly publications are examples of this.
  6. Don't buy anything on the internet. If you do, make sure you get a larger number so it's 'worth it.'
  7. Read about issues that are meaningful to you. Since we're talking about books, make sure they're on important themes, such as climate change or sustainability.

Closing Thoughts

There is no such thing as a flawless environmental hero, and even minor adjustments may have a significant impact. Whether you're ready to make a significant shift or not, keep in mind that the most ecologically friendly thing you currently possess!