Is the possibility of a paperless classroom ecologically sound? According to a UK Guardian Environmental blog, no one is really certain.
Tom Dowdall (Greenpeace International) describes how difficult this is to assess:
"Replacing laptop/desktop use with iPad use will use less energy, but most users will buy this in addition to a laptop, smart phone and other gadgets…In a New York Times piece "How Green is My iPad?", writers Daniel Goleman and Gregory Norris delve into more detail on materials, manufacture, transportation, reading, and disposal in comparing print books and ereaders.
It's also very hard to answer whether digital media is more green/sustainable than traditional media. There are many studies but again it depends on the weight you give to different factors" (CO2 only, emissions, resources use, toxics etc.)
Some shocking facts:
- One e-reader requires the extraction of 33 pounds of minerals.
- One e-reader also requires 79 gallons of water to produce its batteries and printed wiring boards.
- The manufacture of one e-reader requires 100 kilowatt hours of fossil fuels, resulting in 66 lbs. CO2
Transportation , disposal and health considerations make the ereader even less ecologically friendly. I like what Goleman and Norris suggest:
"All in all, the most ecologically virtuous way to read a book starts by walking to your local library."