Eco - conscious book buying

Eco - conscious book buying

If you love books, it’s sometimes hard to strike the right balance between supporting booksellers, authors and publishing houses, while also lowering your carbon impact on the planet. However, in the light of our growing climate crisis, one thing is sure, we can no longer continue to consume in the same quantities – or accept a no-holds barred approach to book production. 

Let’s start with the basics. In his book, How Bad Are Bananas  (published in 2010) Mike Berners Lee estimates that the average 250pp paperback book has a footprint of 1kg CO2e average (in the middle of a scale between using recycled paper and virgin paper, varying paginations and taking pulping into account).

E-readers have a larger footprint than physical books. Berners-Lee calculates the production carbon load of creating a reader at approximately 50kg. This is before electricity, and IT usage are taken into account. The factor of the short life span of technological devices and e-readers only really makes this unpleasant truth even worse.

It's fair to say that used books are even better for the environment than new ones. As a matter of fact, buying secondhand books is the most eco-conscious way to acquire books (after swapping with family and friends, and library borrowing)

To keep within the Paris Climate Agreement and limit the global temperature to a rise of 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels, individuals will need to cut their ENTIRE annual carbon emissions to 2.3 tonnes of CO2 per year by 2030, a decrease of 50%.

Needless to say we have to turn to more ethical ways of buying books and secondhand bookstores are by far the best option. We can no longer turn a blind eye to overproduction of new books nor are we justified hoarding free books that publishers send out for promotion because, guess what? Nobody loves an influencer who doesn't love the Earth.

In conclusion, buying used books is the only way to read a lot, create our own cherished book collection and care for the environment. We shop in secondhand bookstores and make ethical buys a way of life.

Read responsibly

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