Could Amazon's Kindle Reader Save Trees?

If you generally purchase and read a few dozen books every year, purchasing an Amazon Kindle could save a few trees.

But what about the environmental impact of making, and eventually disposing of, all those electronic components?  The question must be asked if you are helping the environment or hurting it by buying a Kindle?  

The paper used to make books comes from tree farms, not endangered species trees or wild trees, and a book in a landfill should decompose pretty quickly.

Kindle, on the other hand, is made of plastic, a petroleum by-product.  Given the internal components, there is definitely the chance of hazardous waste there.

However, countless acres of forests could potentially be saved if everyone used a Kindle. Overall, I would guess that the environmental impact would be slightly less if one owned a Kindle rather than owning paper books, it all depends on how much you read. The Amazon Kindle and other e-readers will dramatically help cut down on paper production, but unfortunately eBooks aren’t yet widespread. It’s opened the door for environmentally-conscious book companies to drastically change the way readers get their paper-based books.

If Kindle or some other e-reader is a success and e-books become more popular there is the chance that it could eliminate the need for paper back books or cut back on them drastically. Book publishers will most likely always want at least a few “real” paper copies to keep as reference, in the case that the e-book is somehow lost or destroyed. I’m sure an author and some people will continue to want a paper copy to have on hand to read or collect as possibly a collector’s item.

The best outcome would be that the need for so much paper being produced and so many trees being farmed to cut down would be extremely less. More people will use Kindle or some other e-reader and e-books become more popular, allowing more widespread access and allowing authors more control of when and how their book becomes available to the public. People would still need to be conscious of how they dispose of the electronic Kindle when they no longer want it or it no longer works. If everyone recycles their electronics, including a Kindle, then it would definitely cut back on waste, instead of creating more waste. If everyone were to get on board with the Kindle or some other e-reader, then several thousands of trees could be saved from being cut down each year.

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Posted on Jan 19, 2010
Amanda Bradbury
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Jerry Walch
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