Sustainability is about ecology, economy and equity.- Ralph Bicknese

The Sustainability of the Printed Page

treesReading a book on a kindle vs. actually having the book in your hands as you read it is a very difficult subject for me. On the one hand, I want to be in support of anything that means less paper being produced and less trees being chopped for that purpose, but the relationship formed between a reader and the tangible book that they hold in front of them has always been a very special thing to me, and the idea of giving it up makes me experience a feeling of resistance to this form of progress, a word that I never want to be against. This article analyzes the green advantage of e-books. How can those of us who wish to be environmental but also cling to the idea of flipping through (non-web) pages deal with this issue?

It’s a good question, and I’m not sure I have an answer. Can we write it off (pun alert-kind of) as our one little environmental vice? Can we try to only get books from the library instead of buying them new at the bookstore, sacrificing our dreams of a house full of stocked bookshelves? Can we meet our sustainable drive halfway by using e-cards instead of paper greeting cards and only reading magazines and newspapers online? Or can we just suck it up and find a way to move on from our romantic connection to the printed page?

Any or all of these may be a solution for you, or you might just arrive at a mental stalemate. It’s a tough issue to be objective about; the clashing of environmentalism and literary culture here is particularly unfortunate. The possibly contradictory bottom line is that I love trees as much as I love reading books-not kindles-underneath them. Where to go from there?

Feel free to tell us what you think below.


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