How Green Are Your Reading Habits?

I love to read. I have one wall in my home that is covered with books, and that’s not even the whole collection. But what’s the most eco friendly way to read?

The Library

Especially if you have a good one within walking distance, you can’t do much better than going to the library for your books. Many can order titles from other branches, so you can often find the books you really want to read.

Then back they go for someone else to read.

This is especially good if you tend to read a particular book only once. If you read it and are done with it, try your local library. You might get a delightful surprise, and you’re supporting a wonderful institution. It doesn’t matter that the books are free to check out. Communities value libraries more if they get used more.

Used Books

My own addiction. Do not let me get too close to a used book store. It will draw me in and my budget may regret the results.

Used book stores are amazing. They often have titles that you can’t find easily at a regular bookstore. And every book is something that someone else finished with first. You’re not causing more books to be printed when you buy a used book.

You can trade in books that you’re done with at most used book stores too. You may get cash or store credit, depending on the location. It’s a hobby that can almost fund itself. On the minus side, the author doesn’t get anything for your purchases.


Many people feel that electronic books are an environmentally friendly selection. My own feelings on the matter is mixed.

On the plus side, no paper is involved. Once the book is written, it takes very little to make however many copies are purchased. Ebooks are simply stored on a server and downloaded when purchased.

On the minus side, they’re electronic. That means when your ebook reader dies, you have electronic waste to dispose of. Too many people dispose of electronics improperly or just go buy new whenever the hot new version comes out.

Another plus is that one reader can store a lot of books. How many depends on the reader in question. But you won’t be taking up an entire wall of your home storing your electronic books.

Another minus is that they require electricity and batteries. Once a traditional book is printed, it is complete. An ebook uses more electricity every time you read it.

There are a number of ebook readers out there. Amazon’s Kindle
is very popular. You can choose a smaller or somewhat larger model, depending on how you will feel most comfortable carrying around and reading on its screen.

The Sony Digital Reader is a similar product. There are a few versions you can buy, once again depending on just what you feel most comfortable with.

Apple’s iPad is a new entry that does a lot more than just display ebooks. It offers internet surfing and movie watching capabilities as well. There’s been a lot of hype around this one, and it will be interesting to see how things go with it.

If you buy hardcover books, electronic versions are often cheaper. Many people tout this as a savings financially as well as for the environment. My habit has always been paperback, so even new the books likely cost less in print… especially from the used book store.

No matter how you like to get your reading materials, there will be positives and negatives. Give a little thought to the impact of your reading habits and choose the best combination for your lifestyle and the environment.