Easy and fun things to help the environment

Humorous Reflections on Fun Incremental Change.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Have we started a fire?

Well, for Christmas this year, Amazon posted some pretty impressive sales numbers, especially on their very popular Kindle.  In the month of December alone, they sold 4 million Kindles.  Now this is a pretty impressive record and I feel it bodes well for the life of trees.  Especially since the sale of electronic books or e-books has gone up 175% in the last year.  Now if everyone used a Kindle for all of their reading, including books, magazines, catalogs, TV schedules, e-mail and school textbooks, that would represent a significant reduction in paper used to produce books.
Now this is a pretty obvious benefit, but there are some benefits that are not quite so obvious, for example, all of those millions upon millions of books don't have to be shipped from the printer to the distributor to the bookstores.  That may not seem like much, but I think anybody who has ever had to move knows.  What's the heaviest thing that you move when you move.  At least in my case, it's always the boxes and boxes and boxes filled with bookses and bookses and bookses.  And those bad boys are heavy.
For those of you who don't know, standard paper weighs approximately 75 pounds per cubic foot.  That means each box of books you carry when you're moving weighs approximately 75 pounds.  Now, when there's a bestseller, the publisher prints up a whole bunch of hardback editions, each one of these weighing between three and 7 pounds and they ship them all over the country, generally by truck.  That's a lot of weight in a lot of trucks requiring a lot of fuel, and a lot of wear and tear on our streets and highways.  Now, if these books aren't actually printed and can be sent zooming through the cloud, that saves a lot of transportation resources and their related costs.  Not to mention all the trees that don't get cut down to produce these books since most printers use virgin pulp.  In addition to the paper being used, paper mills, create an awful lot of waste products, which won't be produced if we're using e-books.
So, this is a pretty impressive technology and it does just what technology should do, save time, resources and money.  It will be interesting to see how the use of e-books evolves over the next several years.  It will be interesting to see if we can actually change the method in which we consume media.  It will also be interesting to see how much paper is actually saved over the next several years.  And how much fuel for trucks, and all that other good stuff.
Here's a great example of what technology can do.  Train us to do the right thing, which we could have been doing all along by just going to the library.  However, I salute Amazon and Kindle and anyone who uses the Internet and technology to consume the media that we have all become addicted to.  Now, if we could only invent some technology to make us stop wearing fur or wasting water.  Or maybe an app to make us stop eating junk food.  Or a gizmo to make us exercise.  Or a program to make us start acting logically and with common sense.  Or a whizbang to keep us from hating others and starting wars.  They may not be big sellers, but at least we can say we tried something.