Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Newspaper

I've read before that it takes 500,000 trees to make the Sunday editions of the nations newspapers every week. It's a pretty shocking number but I've seen it in more than one place. When you take that into your mind, and add to it the fact that only 1/10th of all recyclables are recycled and that the number one thing that ends up in the average landfill is paper, you can see where we've got a big problem.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting that people stop being informed because afterall, education is key to changing the problems at hand. Having said that, there are other options.

The first that comes to mind is of course the internet. I had a huge problem with this for a while but I finally seem to have worked it out to where I can read longer articles on my computer and that's where I get a lot of my information. The plus side of this is of course that I can look at a number of different publications and get a better view of what's really going on. The down side, is that unlike reading a newspaper, where you would stumble across things you might not otherwise read, on the internet you jump to what you want, so I fear I do miss out in this way.

The internet of course, is not the answer, or even an option, for everybody though. So, if you want to read the paper, perhaps you can get together with some neighbors and get a subscription that you can share. I can see possible problems with this, but it seems like if everyone is respectful, it could work out well. In an apartment building it might work out even easier as neighbors could take turns getting the paper first with limited hassle. Either way, carefully choosing your partners in this undertaking seems key.

If you have the time, the library is always a possibility as well, but again I realize this isn't a possibility for everyone due to time.

And then there's always AM radio which is surprisingly good for those who haven't checked it out recently, streaming programs on the web, and of course TV (my least favorite, but it's an option nonetheless).

Bottom line is that printed papers use a tremendous amount of trees, not to mention ink and water, and the energy to transport them to your house, or the local news vendor. If you can read on the internet or get your news from some other form of electronic transmission, go for it, you'll save money and resources, and if you can't, try and see how you can limit your impact by making a single copy go farther.



Anonymous said...

I'm not fully convinced newspapers are a net resource drain when compared to the electronic media alternatives you cited.

Anything electronic and portable means batteries and batteries make hazardous waste. Do we really need more e waste from more electronic gadgets? We still get a substantial amount of our electricity from coal. Of course we could change that by going nuclear.

Electronic media is still largely fed to us no matter how much one may hop around the net or surf the channels.

Contrast with newspapers that rely on a biodegradable, recyclable resource that can be shared easily just by leaving one in a workplace cafeteria. One can read a newspaper with solar power alone without investing in any fancy gadgets.

Newspapers are more like the two major political parties, they need to appeal to as wide an audience as possible in order to remain viable. Therefore every newspaper brings with it a broad spectrum of information for anyone to stumble upon while ferreting out their own points of interest.

Your worms will love newspaper.

Most domestic newspapers use soy inks because they set better and faster and because the newspapers can dispose with a lot of expensive hazardous material handling. I'm still wary of color inserts that may have been printed overseas though.

AM radio might have it's points but NPR has a dearth of commercials. You should know. In LA you should be able to get a minimum of 4 npr stations.

I am not going to take in the news on a dinky hand held device draining the batteries for when I really need it while out to lunch on a beautiful day. I am not going to lug a laptop, no matter how thin or light, out to the park to do some reading in the sun.

Perhaps that will change one day. Before the printing press, books were chained to tables and shelves in libraries much as computers are now but, there is no substitute for the funny pages yet and I can't trust anyone who doesn't read the funny pages.

Revealing my age _ _ jB

Dave said...

Hey JB,
Thanks for commenting.

I'd have to say that I'm not totally convinced either. Having said that, newspapers are biodegradable, but only when exposed to sunlight and air. There have been studies where they have sliced deep into landfills and found newspapers from the 30's that were still perfectly legible.

As for batts, that is a problem, but they too can be recycled and you don't have to use a laptop, you can use a homer computer or pllug in your laptop, sign up for green power (in many states) and you're running fairly clean. On another level, you could get solar on your home or a solar charger for your computer.

I don't think that any of these ideas are perfect but I do think that the subject requires a bit of consideration. Most papers are not recycled, so at the minimum, a move towards 100% recycling would be key. I like your idea of the paper in the cafeteria, goes towards sharing and if that's how many got their news, it would cut down significantly on the number of editions printed.

My worms would/do love them (I still get the local neighborhood area paper once a week) but the Sunday paper alone would take a year to compost.

Too much stuff.


Dave said...

One other thought. The laptop may be a problem but if you read the news on it for a year, think about the resources you are saving by not buying a years worth of paper. What if you do it for 4 years?

Christy B. said...

What about the Kindle? Has anyone used it and what do you think?

Dave said...

Hey Christy B,
I haven't seen one of these but would love to hear from someone who has. It's fairly cost prohibitive right now but it does seem like this may be a good solution for the future. Anyone out there used anything like this?


Anonymous said...

One of these days I'll get a line on some cow manure and I'll shred newspaper by hand to relieve stress while I watch the pundits yack it up on tv. Then I can digest all my newspaper in my compost.

Meanwhile it all gets recycled from home or from work with little to no effort.

two cents _ _ jB

Dave said...

Hah, I love the visual JB and can definitely identify.