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Ideas and questions about sustainable publishing – in print and online

Please add as a comment here your ideas and questions  for online aggregators and for print publishers about sustainability initiatives. Information about efforts in your library system or institution to reduce the energy and resource use of computers and data centers would be helpful to us, and we welcome contact with individuals and groups working on these issues.

We will take this information and your questions to Greenpeace, to the Green Press Initiative (with whom we work) and to other organizations working on e-waste and paper issues, and also to Google, Microsoft, IBM, and other technology companies.

Any comments here may be quoted in reports or other resources we develop, so please ensure that we have your name, email, academic or other affiliation. If you prefer to be anonymous, that’s fine, but please state this in your comment. We will give proper attribution, and we’ll also do our best to ensure that you get specific feedback to your questions as information comes to us.

3 thoughts on “Ideas and questions about sustainable publishing – in print and online

  1. Hi Karen, I enjoyed your editorial in today’s Serials-eNews. I am curious as to whether the analysis of print publishing vs e-publishing sustainability considers that people and institutions often leave their computers on all the time – so it’s not often the case that someone is powering up specifically to read an electronic article or book. Certainly in my case I will turn away and read a book, journal or magazine without actually powering down my laptop and monitor – so I’m not saving any power in reading in print, but I am using up the resources and energy that have gone into manufacturing it.

    I think I’m quite open-minded on this issue and really enjoyed reading your alternative viewpoint, so I really am asking out of curiosity rather than asserting an argument one way or another!

    All the best,


    Charlie Rapple
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  2. Charlie, this is a good point. There’s a lot of waste at point of use, as we leave desktops running. A lot yet to be done to improve operating systems, and we also need to take steps personally. A simple thing that my British friends seem to be more aware of is “ghost” electricity use. Computers, televisions, and appliances use power, and produce climate-changing carbon dioxide, even when they are turned off! Lots of things to be done to deal with this problem, but at its simplest, just unplug from the wall. But there’s great opportunity for improved design. Looking forward to more conversation about this. Thanks for writing, Karen.

  3. not using paper for my classes has not been a problem but it does take planning and preparation. all my readings are either on line or available as downloads, attachments, etc… my classes are also visual/virtual so not using paper but video and computer screens is a major advantage. i cannot vouch for my students not printing what they get, but i do not accept paper assignments to discourage it. my college provides students with computer labs and i am able to use computer labs and smart classrooms for my courses. i think the larger problem is the selectivity of what is available on the web. some of resources i and my colleagues use can be found at our website

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