Print – not so green…

I posted a few weeks ago, linking to a Chris Anderson piece which argued that in environmental terms, printing and shipping magazines was better than web-based delivery. The core of his argument centred on a notion of carbon sequestration– the environmental benefits of the idea hinged on chopping down old trees and replacing them with new ones. Anderson suggested that this process was carbon neutral, and because the old tree carbon was then ‘stored’ or ‘sequestered’ in magazines, carbon was actually removed from the atmosphere. I was skeptical of the train of thought (as were others in the comments thread) but mainly because I have an instinctive feeling that chopping down trees is a bad thing (and I stand to be corrected on that).

Anyhow, I finally had ten minutes to look for some more analysis and it seems I’m not alone. There’s a few voices here, here and here which dispute the ‘print is green’ argument. For the moment, I’m sticking with my instinct – which feels that printing and shipping has got to be worse for the planet that digitally downloading. Feel free to prove otherwise…


3 comments so far

  1. Denis Crowdy on

    Surely we need to couple this with how green our devices for reading are? Turns out the laptops that we turn over so quickly will leave some pretty ugly waste around for a long time. Check out Mary Lou-Jepsen (amazing hardware engineer) talking about the green-ness of the OLPC XO at

  2. shermanfyoung on

    Absolutely. It’s a complex debate, and one that needs to happen



  3. […] been an ongoing debate over whether print is worse for the planet than using a screen – some of it covered here  earlier. Today, Techcrunch has a piece which points to a Times article, which paints google as a big scary […]

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