Why a Kindle Is the Greener (and More Community-Minded) Choice

When I gave my TEDx talk on the benefits of minimalism the audience totally resonated with the overarching theme of my message. But to a person, they all had one driving concern.

“What about books?” they wanted to know, with a poorly masked look of terror on their face.

Letting go of their books was an unfathomable concept to them. Apparently holding an actual book lends a whole different experience to reading. I don’t get it, but given my ‘less is more’ lifestyle I guess I’m not really in a position to comment.

Still, I don’t believe it’s a good enough reason to hold onto books. There are exceptions, of course, such as beautifully photographed coffee table books or dog-eared recipe books covered in flour and tomato sauce (or, is that just me?).

But when it comes to paperbacks, I’m less inclined to empathize. Let me explain.

Books and the Environment

plant trees

If you’re on the fence about whether to stop buying paper books and use an e-reader instead, then perhaps this will sway you.

A 2006 study found that the US book industry consumed approximately 30m trees in a single year. Of course, producing a Kindle also takes a toll on the environment, but the more books you read on it the more you offset those emissions.

More and more publishers are moving towards sustainably sourced paper though, so if you are planning to buy a book be sure get one that carries the FSC logo. That said, given the rate that we’re losing forests due to urban creep, perhaps we shouldn’t be so quick to cut them down.

Okay, so how do you save the trees and still keep reading real books? There are two routes you could go here.

Join a Library

The first is to go old school and join a library. (I know, how very eighties of me.) Regardless of how state-of-the-art it is, you’re bound to find something on the shelves to appeal to your reading tastes. Plus, because you’re not actually paying for the books, you can be a little more risky in your choices. If you don’t like a book, just return it and take out something else.

Male student reading book in the library

Spread the Love

The second option is to buy the books you want and then, once you’ve read them you can donate them to your library, a school or an old age home, for example. Most libraries have a wishlist of books they’d like to see on their shelves, so you could check in with them first.

A lot of people struggle with the challenge of letting go of books. In my experience it’s usually for one of two reasons. They either think it’s a waste because they spent their hard earned cash on the book or the story really resonated and they somehow feel that by holding onto the book, they’ll hold onto the story as well.

If you fall into the first group, then donating the book when you’re finished reading it is a win/win. Ultimately, your money will have a far greater impact than it would have if the book remained on your shelf at home.

However, if you’re inclined to keep the book because you loved the story then I’d urge you to donate it to a library close to you. That way you can borrow it back and reread it whenever the mood takes you.

Books and Clutter

It might be difficult at first, but if you take it slow and remember the good you’re doing by donating them, it will get easier. One approach is to start by identifying the books that spark joy and set those to one side. Knowing that you’re keeping at least some will make you feel more at ease about the task.

Remember, books take up space and they’re heavy. If you’ve ever moved with boxes of books, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Do yourself a favor and unclutter your bookshelf now, your back will thank you.

7 Awesome Things About a Kindle

reasons why a kindle is better

1. You can read in the dark

If you buy a Kindle with a backlight you can read in bed without disturbing your partner. This feature also comes in handy if the electricity goes out or when you’re camping.

2. You can take as many books as you want on vacation

Picking just a couple of books to take with you on holiday is tough. What if you’re not in the mood for the ones you chose or worse, you made a bad choice and the story isn’t nearly as thrilling as the book jacket led you to believe?

3. You have access to a world of books

If you want a new book, the only thing you need is wifi and you can connect to Amazon’s storefront and browse to your heart’s content. As an added bonus, you can download a sample first to see if you like the book.

4. Giving Indie authors a leg up

Nowadays, a lot of emerging writers only publish their work on Kindle. This means there are countless gems that you’d never have known about if you didn’t have a Kindle. Plus, you’re helping these guys get their work out into the world.

5. Moving house is a breeze

You may well own hundreds of books, but all you have to do is slip your Kindle into your laptop bag and you’re done moving them. How easy is that?

6. Look Ma, no hands!

You can balance you Kindle on your lap, leaving your hands free for important stuff like drinking hot chocolate and munching on Oreos. (I’m not the only one who snacks and reads, am I?)

7. They’re easier to clean

Okay, obviously if you spill the entire contents of your coffee cup directly onto your Kindle things aren’t going to look too good. However, cleaning greasy fingermarks and cookie crumbs is a breeze.

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20 Ways to Reuse Old Books

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Amanda M
Amanda M12 days ago

I'm old school too-give me a real book any day! They don't have screen glare that gives me a headache, they don't break when you drop them, they don't have batteries that need recharging, and you don't have to worry about lack of Internet access or the book you bought being yanked when the seller changes their mind. Also, the library in our small town doesn't always have the greatest selection, and since we only have one car that my husband needs for work, a trip to the county seat is impossible when you're on foot! Like others here, I like to read in bed at night as a way to wind down-can't exactly do that on a Kindle with that bright screen light!

Stephanie s
Stephanie s17 days ago

Valid points. Thank you

Kathryn I
Kathryn I19 days ago

Good points for those who prefer the Kindle; personally, I do not, since I'm "old school." LOL! Thanks for posting

Kathryn I
Kathryn I24 days ago

The Kindle is not for me, since I believe in reading a book from a "real" book. Thank you!

Kathryn I
Kathryn I28 days ago

Very interesting points! Thanks for sharing them!

Danuta W
Danuta W29 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

Jonathan Harper
Jonathan Harper29 days ago


Sherry K
Sherry K29 days ago

Many thanks to you !

Tania N
Tania N29 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

H M29 days ago

I'm on a Kindle right now and I call shenanigans on this article. I have to recharge every four hours. What happens when you can't access the internet? What if the books you want are checked out or your library closes? Make mine real books!