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Archive for April 15th, 2010:


Going Paperless: Not the Green Panacea It’s Cracked Up to Be

posted April 15, 2010

Posted by Erin Brown in digital media

Guiyu, China, is the e-waste capital of the world; photo by Bert van Dijk

Thanks to Megan Halpern over at Melville House (MobyLives) for her recent post challenging the idea that digital media is a necessarily “greener” alternative to paper. Halpern points to an important article by Don Carli at PBS MediaShift, which calls the choice between paper and e-media a “false dilemma.”

As Carli explains, “going paperless” (with our bills, with our books) may feel like a great leap toward reducing our carbon footprint because the evidence of our consumption disappears, but the environmental benefits of digital media are as-of-yet largely illusive:

Just because we cannot see something doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. While paper mills emit visible plumes of steam and waste paper can pile up visibly in our homes and businesses, the invisible embodied energy or “grey energy” used to manufacture digital technologies and the toxic e-waste associated with electronics are largely out of sight and out of mind, but their impacts can be profound.

Read the rest of this entry »



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