The green reader – books v screens?

//The green reader – books v screens?

In this blog publisher, author and Reading Force founder Alison Baverstock gives the lowdown on the sustainability of books.

A criticism often faced by publishers is that books are not environmentally-friendly, and it would be more sustainable to encourage people to read on electronic devices. When talking about why books are enjoyable, in various contexts, I’ve often had it said to me that “I don’t buy books because I love trees”. Here I hope to convince you that you really can love both, without compromising your environmental beliefs!

Books are far more sustainable and offer far better environmental responsibility than reading on devices. From phones to kindles to i-pads, devices are absolutely not more environmentally friendly than printed books.

Firstly, paper manufacturers are highly socially/environmentally responsible. Paper mills are sited by running water (the two elements you need for producing paper are wood-pulp and water), but they put back into rivers cleaner water than they take out, and plant trees to replace those felled. This is in stark contrast to the production of electronic devices such as e-readers which require the extraction of rare minerals from the earth such as copper, lithium, and cobalt.

Books can be shared until they fall apart, and disposed of in a sustainable manner, whereas devices are resource-heavy in manufacture and cannot be easily recycled – they routinely end up in skips/landfill.

Finally, books offer a deeper and more lasting reading-experience. Research has consistently shown that people tend to remember more when they read on paper rather than online, because paper engages more of your senses (smell, sound, touch, sight etc). Devices engage only your eyes.

We also know from research that ownership of a book that you can call your own, is a really significant landmark in life for children. Furthermore, ownership of books when a child correlates with those who are published later in life. And for a present, there is no better gift to give – you can write in the front of them, and the gift will likely be remembered.

At Reading Force we send reading scrapbooks and high quality books to those who register, and one book per child within a family. We encourage participants to talk about a book and share their responses, and record these in the scrapbook. And we encourage them to join a book club – we offer advice on how to start one and the stock to get it going.

We are proud to work closely with a printer to create all our resources – Impress – who prioritise their environmental impact and are the FIRST UK printer to be awarded The Planet Mark™, which is an internationally recognised and trusted sustainability certification programme, recognising commitment to continuous improvement in sustainability. Awarding of the mark demonstrates good practice in sustainability, measuring the carbon emissions of operations and setting a target to reduce emissions annually.

And now, after fourteen years of offering this, we know that as a direct result military families feel more connected, and have really special memories of the shared-reading to draw on.

Alison Baverstock, Founder and Director