According to an analysis by the Cleantech Group, the Kindle is more environmentally friendly than plain ol' paper books, assuming you're not a freak who reads less than five books a year.
The analysis compared carbon emissions from the production of electronic books to that of traditional book publishing. Despite the manufacturing and mining process required for the Kindles being taken into account, they still came out as the more eco-friendly contender since the Kindle doesn't exactly compare to a single book as Emma Rich, who conducted the analysis, explains:
The roughly 168 kg of CO2 produced throughout the Kindle's lifecycle is a clear winner against the potential savings: 1,074 kg of CO2 if replacing three books a month for four years; and up to 26,098 kg of CO2 when used to the fullest capacity of the Kindle DX. Less-frequent readers attracted by decreasing prices still can break even at 22.5 books over the life of the device,
We found the "fullest capacity" of the Kindle a bit amusing. Sure, the study compares the number of books you can have on a Kindle at a given moment, but what about the infinite number of deletions, downloads, and books stored on your computer for syncing?
Either way, the gist of this is that if you only read 22.5 books or less every four years, then you don't have to feel guilty about mucking up the environment by not using an electronic reader. The rest of us though are going green and ordering a Kindle. Well, at least I am. [CNET]