Thursday, 21 July 2011

a green reading fling

My book club meets in a couple weeks time and we're reading The Help.  

Never one to miss an environmental opportunity, I've made my hunt for this book as green as possible, but I'm hitting some roadblocks.

In an attempt to reduce my consumption of new products, I tried to borrow the book, checking the library first.  Unfortunately The Help is too popular, and between my two libraries there are nine copies out and all are on reserve when they get returned. I also asked my usual book-lender, Erica, but her copy is with someone else right now.

My next preference was reuse, but when I checked my local secondhand book shops last week they, too, were out of the book.  It better live up to the hype after all this 'shopping' around!

Photo credit Maggie Smith
I haven't yet made the leap to e-readers.

Truthfully, I'm not thrilled at the prospect of staring at yet another screen; I already look at screens for 10 hours a day, my eyes prefer the comfort of paper pages for my leisurely reading.

I'm also not convinced they are better for the environment.  An Op-Ed piece in the New York Times last year considered the life-cycle assessment of e-readers versus paper books and revealed that:
With respect to fossil fuels, water use and mineral consumption, the impact of one e-reader payback equals roughly 40 to 50 books. When it comes to global warming, though, it’s 100 books; with human health consequences, it’s somewhere in between.
All in all, the most ecologically virtuous way to read a book starts by walking to your local library. (Daniel Goleman and Gregory Norris)
New versions of e-readers (be they Kindles, iPads or others) come out all the time, so readers must consider if they'd really have purchased that many new books in the time frame they own the e-reader before upgrading to a newer version.  For me, the answer is no; it would take me years to buy that many new books. For now I'm content with my library cards and secondhand shops, and the occasional new book.

I still don't want to buy The Help brand new, though, so if anyone has a copy to lend me please let me know - I promise to take very good care of it!

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