Monday, June 4, 2012

Lesser of Two Evils

There's not really a conclusion to this post.  I've just been thinking lately about choosing one type of waste over another.

To be specific, I'm talking about the increasingly popular choice to go paperless.  This involves switching from a paper-based organization system to an electronic one, either whole or in part.  There's a big positive impact here: not using paper is much more forest-friendly than using paper.  My conscience starts to twinge, though, at the fact that going paperless means relying more on technology, particularly portable devices like tablets.  Laptops, tablets, smartphones - they're all made with plastic components and designed to be replaced.  Electronic waste is a big environmental (and human rights) problem these days. 

So which impact is worse?  Using a tablet, which will go to an e-waste dump in a few years when it becomes obsolete?  Or using paper, which is recyclable?  On the other hand, even only using 100% recycled paper so no new trees are cut down, you'd still need a computer and a printer with ink. 

I don't have an answer.  I do have a Nook.  I also prefer to read articles on paper.  I'm not sure there is a good choice if I want to continue in the modern world at all, much less pursue a career in a technology- and publication-heavy science.

1 comment:

  1. This has been a concern of mine as well. Wish there were an answer . . .