Reading Green

Let’s take a minute do a little word association. What comes to mind when you see:

TECHNOLOGY?
INNOVATION?
CORPORATION?
PROGRESS?

If you think like me, the images conjured up in your mind for such ideas as “technology” and “corporation” might not be that different. After all, who is it that is developing all this new technology we are using? New gadgets such as computers, smart phones and tablets are all part of the great battle for business; who can create a laptop that has countless awesome features while still boasting a battery that can last you all through your busy workday? We can assume with certainty that Apple has won that battle…but then again that’s not the point.

What I’m getting at is innovation drives business because innovation attracts customers, thereby attracting profit. And, when we think of the greatest enemy of the environment, we often think of big business. Greater advances in technology have the potential to keep us glued to our computer (or phone, or tablet) screens for longer periods of time, causing us to use even more energy. Technology just can’t be good for the environment, right?

As an environmentally conscious individual who majored in English in college, I have always been doubly wary of e-readers. Firstly, I always liked the idea of actually holding a book, something with a cover and pages. Plus, when I thought about what all went into producing Kindles and Nooks and whatnot, I just thought the process seemed environmentally unsound. All the materials and batteries and energy…and the things have to be charged! What a waste of electric!

Then my twenty-third birthday rolled around, and I received a gift. An iPad. My boyfriend knows how much I love to read, and he thought it would be great for the trip I’m about to take to visit him in Europe since it’s much easier to carry around a one and a half pound tablet than a two weeks’ arsenal of reading material. At first I felt as if I had betrayed my English major roots…the idea of reading a book off a screen instead of holding a paperback in my hand! But then I thought a bit more: could I perhaps be doing the environment a service by forgoing books and picking up an iPad?

I started doing research and came across an awesome article on my favorite news site, NYTimes.com (you can find the link at the bottom of this post). Granted, the article is a bit dated (published in August 2009) and doesn’t actually look at the impact of the iPad on the environment (it focuses on Amazon’s e-reader, the Kindle). But, many of the pro-e-reader arguments the article makes are the same arguments I brainstormed on my own when I started contemplating the impact of the new gift.

While this technology isn’t perfect, I think it is certainly a step in a more environmentally friendly direction. I won’t stop buying books; I still enjoy, and always will enjoy, the feel of a page turning, and no matter how realistic Apple tries to make the iPad reading experience, sliding a finger across a screen will never replace that feeling. But, in hopes of doing my part to have fewer trees killed in my name, I will continue to purchase books on my iPad. In fact, I write this blog as I sit in the airport waiting for my flight to Amsterdam (the first stop of my European excursion), and I am already anticipating taking out my iPad to start Garth Stein’s “The Art of Racing in the Rain”. And even if the book is coming to me on a screen, it will still be a real page-turner.

“Are E-Readers Greener Than Books?”
http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/08/31/are-e-readers-greener-than-books/

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