HOW SUSTAINABLE IS A BOOK ACTUALLY?

Hello everybody! So I wrote a book. I think that has been pretty clear over these last few weeks, I’ve been super excited about it, and I’ll be hosting book launch events all over Denmark, click here to find more details. Of course, I have been thinking tons about the impact of books and whether or not it was necessary to write one. I’ll get back to those questions further down in the post. First of all, some info about the book. It is in Danish, I want to translate it into English, and I’ll start looking into the options next month, so I will get back to everyone who asked me that. The book can be bought in Danish book stores and online, like saxo.dk, but if you want to support me directly I also sell the book through my Instagram. It is 249,95 dkk (33 euros).

HOW SUSTAINABLE IS A BOOK ACTUALLY?

Making a book has an impact, like everything we produce, use, and consume, and so does my book. Producing one book emits an average of 7.5 kilograms of carbon dioxide and consume about 2 kilowatt-hours, so of course, that adds up to quite a lot if you buy tons of books, read them once, or not at all, and then leave them on a shelf never to be picked up again. That’s unideal. As someone commented on one of the last videos from the Impact Series: “if I have learned anything from this channel, it’s how usability above all else define how sustainable a product is” and I couldn’t agree more. Buying something, anything, and then never using it, is unsustainable, there is no way around it. So when I wrote my book, I designed it to be used more than one time. I wanted it to be a book you can keep coming back to, keep asking for advice, continuously use for looking up recipes, and keep as a resource when going about your day. It’s not made to be read once and then left hanging in a dark corner of your living room, no way. When that’s said, and this is not in said in the best interest of myself, but rather in the best interest of our planet if you can – buy it used, or borrow it either from a friend or from a library. This does not only go for my book obviously but for any book. Buying second hand or simply sharing with others is far more sustainable than buying it for yourself.

But why did I make a hard copy, why not just an eBook? This is a good question that requires more than one answer. First of all, the book will also be available as an eBook, and as an audiobook. But why, also as a physical copy? The cliché (that I do agree with while realizing how misused this sentiment is) but when you have something physical in from of you, you are more likely to cherish it, to listen to it, to learn from it, to actually finish reading it. But there is also a part of me that’s clinging on to an old fashioned idea about books, about having a physical thing that I made, I won’t pretend that that has not played a part at all. Now this thing about eBooks, because believe it or not, there are issues here as well. If you are reading an eBook on a device, say your laptop, that you are already using for something else, then the impact of that eBook is rather small (streaming and using the internet also has an impact and I have a whole video about that, but for the most part I wouldn’t worry too much about it) It’s a whole other thing if you bought a specific device for reading eBooks: an E-reader. E-readers are electronic devices, and they automatically come with a large impact (batteries, mining materials, planned obsolescence, and more fun stuff). One E-reader manufacturing process emits 29 kilos of carbon dioxide, 15 kilograms of minerals, 79 gallons of water, and consumes 100-kilowatt hours. For an electronic E-reader to have a lower impact than books, you would have to replace A LOT of physical books with e-editions and read them on your E-reader. On top of that, there are the issues of recycling, only a small percentage of electronic devices are actually recycled, which is generally a big problem that’s not even accounted for in the calculations of impact. Does that mean cutting trees down is more environmentally friendly than using a device? No, not always, the logging industry is not innocent, the US books and newspaper industry are responsible for the logging of 100 million trees combined.

The bottom line? Saving paper is a great thing, but don’t buy an electronic device to read 1-3 books, then simply buying the books is better for the environment, but if you already have a device you can use, that’s is course great too.

Is some paper better and more eco-friendly? My book is FSC certified, but what does that mean? The Forest Stewardship Council, or FSC, is a certification that aims to ensure sustainable and ethical logging and timber production. This is of course highly relevant as books are you know… made from paper aka trees. The FSC is a non-profit organization that operates all over the world and they describe their certification as one that ensures the responsible production of wood and protects forest areas against deforestation and protects indigenous people and primeval forest areas. Are they 100% successful? No, they are not, just like with the Fair Trade certificate, some studies find that the organization still fall short in some instances. However, that does not mean that the FSC is never working, just that it’s not yet a perfect system.

So what is my point? If you buy my book in physical form, please keep using it, or lend it to someone else so they can use it, and don’t buy it unless you know you are going to use it. Yeah, I am low-key advocating for you to not buy my books, but that’s only if you know you’re not going to read it anyways. It is with everything, the products, and goods we consume are only as sustainable as the number of times you use it, especially when it comes to the carbon footprint.

Read more about the aims of FSC here: https://www.thespruce.com/what-does-fsc-certified-stand-for-2736657

You can find out more about the shortcomings of FSC here: https://wilderness-society.org/can-fsc-eco-label-stop-logging-primary-forests/?gclid=Cj0KCQjw7Nj5BRCZARIsABwxDKLbBw2dF0BWgUNQ2RhDIFD1OBZ1c3Kd31j-K6QE9Wl_CsKEW00VwpMaAgwWEALw_wcB

How green is my Ipad?: https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/04/04/opinion/04opchart.html

Books vs E-readers: https://www.custommade.com/blog/e-readers-vs-print-books/ and https://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/08/31/are-e-readers-greener-than-books/

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