Are iPads and Kindles better for the environment than books?

Illuminating answers to environmental questions.
Aug. 24 2010 10:00 AM

Should You Ditch Your Books for an E-Reader?

The environmental credentials of the iPad and Kindle.

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An even better option is to walk to your local library, which can spread the environmental impact of a single book over an entire community. Unfortunately, libraries are underutilized. Studies suggest that fewer than one-third of Americans visit their local library at least once a month, and fewer than one-half went in the last year. Libraries report that the average community member checks out 7.4 books per year—far less than the three per month consumed on e-readers—and more than one-third of those items were children's books.

Of course, you could also stop reading altogether. But then how would you know how much carbon you saved?

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Brian Palmer is Slate's chief explainer. He also writes How and Why and Ecologic for the Washington Post. Email him at Follow him on Twitter.