Will that be paper or plastic for your news?

Posted: June 17, 2013 in Environmental Impact
Tags: , , , ,
Printing Press

Newspaper Printing Press

As consumers become more environmentally conscious, our daily lives include more decisions that make an impact on the earth.

At the grocery checkout, should you ask for a paper bag or plastic bag? Or have you brought your reusable bag?

Should you bike to work, take the car or catch the bus?

What can you compost or recycle?

Here’s an environmental decision you may never have considered before: Should you read the newspaper or read the news online?

A press release from Alma Media details results from a study it carried out with research institutes. The study compared the environmental impact of its three printed newspapers versus their online equivalents. It turns out that it is difficult to compare the two mediums because they are used and evaluated so differently. As well, each medium has different environmental issues to take into consideration.

The study showed that when comparing the environmental impact based on one hour of consumption (i.e. reading the news), the printed newspaper was more eco-friendly. But when comparing the environmental impact based on total usage and consumption hours, digital news was more environmentally-friendly.

It is interesting to note that for printed newspapers, much of the environmental impact takes place before the newspaper reaches the consumer. This includes the production of the paper, printing process and newspaper delivery. Compare this to online news, where much of the environmental impact occurs during the production of the devices (e.g. laptops, tablets, mobile phones) on which the news is read.

Kudos should go to Alma Media for undertaking this study as it is now incorporating measures it can take in its two new facilities to reduce its environmental footprint. Hopefully, more news organizations will take heed. Some news organizations currently implement sustainable practises such as using recycled paper, using eco-friendly ink, and incorporating recycling efforts during the printing process. Overall, it would do the news industry some good to build awareness of these efforts and keep environmentally-conscious consumers happy.

What do you think? Do you consider the environment in your decision on how you stay up-to-date with the news?

  1. Sara says:

    Interesting post! I try to make sustainable choices in my daily life, and I admit I assumed that reading the news digitally was the more environmentally-friendly option. That being said, when I really need to focus on processing content, I have to read it in print. Reading in print uses reflective light, which engages the analytical part of your brain, which helps for a closer reading. Thanks to your article, though, I won’t feel so bad about the occasional print copy!!

  2. Very interesting blog post! I prefer the paper copy because it was easier on the eyes and I felt more involved in my reading, as weird as that sounds. And although I do consider the environment in many aspects of my life, I didn’t consider it when reading the paper, but it sounds like I made the right choice anyways 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  3. Cassandra says:

    I too prefer paper copy, it has been proven that it actually takes longer to read online than an actual hardcopy document. I prefer the feel and tend to stick to a story until I am done rather than drift to other components on a webpage. Thanks for your post!

  4. I’m a paper copy read as well – even though I detest the feeling of newsprint ink on my hands.
    I also buy magazines because I feel they evoke more sensory perception for me. I don’t watch TV and I feel that looking at a mag on the computer is like watching TV.

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