|✓||01||09/03||Who are we? What can we do?|
|✓||02||09/10||Case study: Digital versus physical media|
|13||11/26||Design for dissassembly|
Submit work to firstname.lastname@example.org as PDF attachements or for large files, as links to something on the internet by Sunday 9/15 at 11:59PM.
Please separate the thesis and weekly issue into separate documents.
I personally think that the optimal solution for distribution of reading materials for the course would be to have everyone access shared digital files on their personal internet gateways. Not only does this allow for people who like to have pdf versions on their devices do so, it also allows for people who want physical copies to be able to print them. There are other “logistical” issues that could be considered, such as the possible copyright infringement issues and the fact that Professor Petralia would have to physical scan every single page of all the reading material for us.
But, let’s consider different aspects to all these options- about sustainability, the energy consumption, the health and environmental hazards, the air and water pollution, and the waste all of these options create. Let’s Consider the Life Cycles of these options, from the trees, the extraction of rare earth metals, the pulp, the paper, the ink, the microcontrollers, the distribution… all the way to waste or disposal of the paper or the eReader and how they are treated.
All of the proposed options require at least one initial book to be manufactured. This means the procurement of paper (trees, labor, shipping), the creation of the book itself (factories, binding, printing, ink, more labor, etc), the distribution of said book, and so on. Each book has a life cycle, starting from the pulp wood production, pulp wood transportation, pulp and paper production paper transportation, printing, transportation to distribute, individual consumer transportation, printed paper book use, and waste management. This could be looked at from a purely “energy” consumption view, analyzing the total amount of energy consumed during the process. Another approach would be to analyze the consumption of more sources, such as energy, water, etc.
Then comes the question of where and how to purchase the books. One could buy from book stores, either as a new book or an old, used book (which have different life cycles and “impact”), people can place on order online, people can borrow from a library, borrow a book from a friend, and so on. All of these options have different life cycle paths, and different factors to be considered. For example, if one was to buy a book from a store, not only should the manufacturing of the book itself be considered, but also the people who work at the store and their transportation, the transportation path the book took to get to the store itself, the packaging of the books or the packaging used when the book is sold, and even how the individual got to the bookstore- by bus, car, bike, or walking. For online stores, there’s even more packaging, steps, and people involved to get the book delivered to the individual, and also there is that time or urgency factor that is behind purchasing a physical book from a store. However, what about the book store itself? It had to be designed and built somehow, with a construction crew and everything. But the same goes for the online company if they had physical headquarters elsewhere- the factors that can, or should be, considered keeps going.
Similar consequences, or cycles are associated with sharing some number of course reading copies as everyone procuring own physical copies, although it is much less prominent than the former option. This is because technically, less books are purchased- instead of everyone having x amount of books resulting in nx (n being the number of students) copies, now we only have x (or a significantly less multiple of x) number of books that we need to consider in the life cycle assessment. But we should also take human behavior and interpretation, and the impact it has into consideration. For example, factors such as frequency of use, the frequency of replacement, the recyclability and if people actually DO recycle the waste properly, and so on. What if someone doesn’t come to class for the week, or forgets to bring the book that week? What if someone wants to take notes directly onto the book, and/or to keep the book after although they did not purchase that specific book? What if someone loves a specific book so much that he/she/they end up buying the book anyways? What about the differences between someone who rereads the book multiple times or gives the book to future students and/or friends/family/strangers to someone who tucks the book away, never to open it again? What about the differences between someone who resells the book, either online or at a bookstore (which again, as different paths and consequences)? What if someone decides to use the book as firewood, or makes furniture out of the book? Again, factors to be considered keeps growing.
If everyone were to receive physical reproductions each week, it does reduce the transportation footprint overall, and it does mean technically, only one book is purchased, similar to that of the second option. However, Professor Petralia will have to go through the labor (and the associated inconvenience) of scanning all the pages, printing all the pages, and stapling (or paperclip or binding, whatever he chooses) the pages, and bringing them all to class. So the life cycles of the scanner, the printer, the ink and the excess paper, the stapler (or whatever binding material if any) needs to be considered (If he decides to buy a separate folder for these documents then the life cycle of that needs to be considered too). Again, keeps growing.
The option of everyone accessing shared digital files brings up a new life cycle into consideration- the “internet gateways”. Some might simply read the digital files on a computer, or some might have them on their tablets, or some might print them out because they like having physical copies. The electronic devices, be it a computer, iPad, or some sort of eReader, has life cycle stages from the procurement of parts required for production (extraction of rare earth metals), the production itself, e-book formatting, e-book downloading, distribution transportation of the iPad, individual consumer transportation, use of e-books and the iPad, and waste management. So similar to the previous option, it’s still one book that is being purchased, and Professor Petralia has to go through the labor of scanning all the pages and uploading them. It does reduce the time and paper that is required to print physical reproductions, but the electronic device used has manufacturing and on-going operational effects. Not only that, as mentioned before, some (like me) might print them in the computer center, which means paper and ink are still being used, although to a lesser extent. However, then the questions of WiFi and other connections for the internet can be considered, such as the power cables, the service, electricity, and more that come with the convenience of individual households having WiFi.
According to a study by Vinesh Naicker and Brett Cohen, A Life Cycle Assessment of eBooks and Printed Books in South Africa (2016), the total energy consumption of the life cycle of one printed book is four times that of the eReader. The table below summarizes the findings and the calculations they had conducted. However, they do not take into consideration the carbon or other sources of emissions or labor that could be considered as parts of the life cycle, and only focused purely on the energy consumptions of each stage. The numbers could differ if other factors are considered.
Another study, conducted by Dealva Jade Dowd-Hinkle, Kindle vs. Printed Book: An Environmental Analysis (2012), show similar numbers. The figure below shows the comparison of a conventional printed book vs the eReader (electronic device) for material, water, energy, air emissions, water emissions, and solid wastes. In all cases, the paper book has significantly more consumption/impact than that of the electronic device.
The same paper also compares the CO2 emissions and preventions the eReader has brought, comparing the values from 2009 to 2012. Although in 2009 the emissions due to and prevented by eReaders were almost the same, as time passed, more CO2 emissions were prevented due to eBook sales. The claim was that due to the rise of eReaders, and because each device can hold numerous books, the Carbon Dioxide emissions that would have been brought forth by the paper books’ life cycles were “prevented,” and far outweigh the emissions due to the life cycle of the electronic device. The figure below visualizes the findings.
However, Although the CO2 (global warming potential) and even the SO2 (terrestrial acidification) emissions of electronic devices were far less than that of the printed books, the CFC-11 (Ozone Depletion) levels of the electronic device was much higher than that of the printed books. The figures below summarize the calculations. This brings the question of how each factor should be weighed. Although the book has more emissions of gasses that contribute to global warming and terrestrial acidification, the electronic device contributes much more to the depletion of the ozone layer.
However, I still believe that the optimal solution is for all the students to have electronically distributed data, so that one can choose to either print a physical copy, read on a desktop device, or read on a tablet/portable electric device. I propose this because of the functionality and the flexibility of the option- although books are solely used as “books” (or parts of furniture, diy projects, table leveler, etc but I still rest my case), electronic devices have a much more broad application. Most of us do already own a computer or a tablet, and they serve multiple purposes other than just simply to “provide the students with the means of accessing the assigned readings.” Unlike a book, which most of us will have to actively go and purchase, electronic devices are already being used on a daily basis for most of us, and are used for numerous different applications. Even if one does NOT have an electronic device, the Cooper Union has multiple labs and classrooms where they can access it. Also, unlike a book that would probably be in use once or twice for a class (or for fun later on), the electronic devices are more frequently used, especially so as it has more applications. Thus, I believe that the optimal way to distribute reading material for this course (for now, with my limited understanding and knowledge) is to have electronic copies distributed on a weekly basis.
In lifecycle of a product, there are a series of stages which define the state at which the product is in — at each stage, the product interacts with its environment either through direct or indirect engagement. Cradle to grave analysis considers the associated emissions and environmental impacts in the full lifecycle of a manufactured product – in this case we can consider the difference between physical and digital media. The distribution of materials digitally versus physically each have associated costs in material usage as well as individual engagement. Over the course of the following 16 weeks, we will use approximately 50-60 readings and utilize a number of textbooks. Based off of my initial research, I believe that using physical media would be the ideal solution for the distribution of resources.
The production of digital versus physical media is very difficult to quantify, in my initial research, it seems as though estimating the impacts of the production of paper versus a MacBook Pro or Kindle E Reader seem appropriate. Yet, it seems a though the scope of variability when considering the associated energy and materials of digital media – in addition, variability in considering types of devices, user behavior, recycling, and design for obsolescence.
The initial materials in the production of paper are estimated to be pulp, water, and energy. The pulp used is considered to be a natural material coming from a variety of plants. In the manufacturing process, there are a series of chemical compounds such as dyes, inks (which are comprised of resins, pigments, solvents, additives), fillers, bleaches added to the process in order to process the pulp into paper. Once the manufacturing process is completed, the paper is packed and distributed. This distribution also requires energy associated with the quantity and distance of products transported and over the distance in which they are being delivered. After the use of the paper, one must consider the associated energy with the collection of waste paper and either the recycling of the waste back into paper fibers or it’s removed from the cycle and thrown away.
One source considers an e-reader to require the extraction of 33 pounds of minerals and an associated 79 gallons of water in order to produce the electronics and batteries required to power the device over the course of its use. Comparing these values to those of a recycled paper book, CILIP estimates two thirds of one pound of minerals and an associated 2 gallons of water in order to produce a recycled paper book.
One user considers the lifespan of a MacBook Pro by first beginning with the non-renewable recourses such as gold, copper and aluminum which are extracted in order to produce the computer. Once the computer is manufactured, it is likely shipped across the world to a store, purchased, and then used over the course of a number of years. When considering the lifespan of digital versus physical media, the digital device is almost guaranteed to have a longer lifespan and use over time. Paper copies are likely to be discarded much more quickly than physical books yet, I see paper copies as having an unparallel upside when considering the physical engagement with the text. Digestion of the information in a physical form is recently seen to allow for students to have much more in depth understanding of the material presented to them. The medium of paper in comparison to digital appears to be much more significant in its effectiveness of the medium. Therefore, I see the greatest benefit for our course to be to take advantage of physical copies of our resources rather than relying on our digital devices.
The energy source used is very important when considering print versus digital. Here in NYC, 38% comes from natural gas, 37% nuclear, 19% hydroelectric, and the remaining from coal and wind . Though some may consider nuclear energy “carbon zero”, the nuclear waste produced by these plants creates a whole other environmental concern. According to KTH Center for Sustainable Communications, using Europe as an energy production reference, reading for more than 30 minutes a day from a printed source has less of an environmental impact than from a digital source . I believe that we all would be reading for more than that time, so a printed source would be better environmentally. I personally rather have my own copy of the literature rather than share in class so we could spend class time more productively. If the price is less than $40, I think it would be a good investment. However, I’m biased because I prefer the feel of a physical book, and I know many students wouldn’t be willing to carry around a book all day.
Pick your poison: the greater of two evils?
“Transporting data now uses 50 percent more energy than world aviation.”
The cloud is not ‘green’. Sending an email is not any more sustainable than printing out a piece of paper. Just because a marketer wants you to pat yourself on the back for your e-bills doesn’t mean you have now done your part. When did this assumption infiltrate? Why do most people not register the internet as a huge factor in energy usage? To understand the lifecycle of a computer, of the internet, of the cloud, of all the materials mined, and additionally, the transportation of all of those materials ( Apple works with suppliers in 43 countries ) would take a longer report but let’s just say its BAD. Moreover, the people working these jobs oversees most likely are of a lower class, are getting underpaid, and work in dangerous working conditions. In addition, the absorption of information from a screen is generally harder-- and who’s to say students wouldn’t print it out. Additionally, what is the true cost on our eyes by staring at screens all day?
On the other hand it is really nice to have access to all of my readings from the IntraDisciplinary Seminary on my google drive -- I reference them often and can easily share with others -- something I began to consider while writing this is that I already have a computer -- most people in the class probably do -- it is not like we will use the computer much less. This comes down to the question of convenience that we will be exploring in this class. I begin to worry that this kind of breakdown becomes a way to make ourselves feel better about what we are using while this minor impact cannot have a large effect.
Moving onto paper -- pulp, water, and energy are all used in the process of making paper. The pulp comes from a variety of different trees, that may cause unethical deforestation but you know what there is no ethical consumption under capitalism. Then there is a whole plethora of toxins that go into the paper to bleach it and to produce the ink it is printed with. Then the books are packaged (god forbid in plastic) and shipped on giant freightships (god forbid from China) and unpacked in a store and bought by us students (god forbid on amazon) and brought to our class. After we are done with it it will either live on our bookshelf for a long, be resold, or donated to a library. We can read it without doing much damage to our eyes, statistically retain more information, and even take notes by hand to reference later. I also am considering the cost of each book for each student, vs no technical immediate cost for digital files but at the same time the hours of scanning and human labor for Professor Petralia come into play.
In Conclusion, I choose physical copies for each student.
The processes and resources necessary to build a computer or smart device compared to producing paper are vastly different and have different effects on the environment. A laptop, for example, is made up of components from many different sources in many different locations. Some parts are constructed from materials obtained in a mine, and others are manufactured in factories. Eventually, it all comes together to produce a laptop. Paper, on the other hand, comes from one source – trees. The process of making paper can be entirely done in a single factory, making it easier to mass produce for the public, and also make it much cheaper.
Multiple factors are involved in determining which is the better choice for a classroom setting, even when the environment is taken out of the equation. A computer can host a wealth of easily accessible knowledge, whether it be from the internet or a saved file. The amount of paper saved by using a computer seems like it would depend on the storage size of the computer itself, but by accessing documents on the internet, that amount would be even higher. Additionally, all students in a classroom are likely to own a smart phone, a laptop, or even both. Having to get a laptop for class would not be the case here. On the other hand, paper in itself doesn’t host any knowledge until something is written or printed onto it. The value of paper varies based on how it’s used, and every person uses paper differently. A printed literature can be collecting dust on a shelf or annotated by an aggressive note taker. A lot of paper goes to waste right after the material has been read, because the reader loses interest and moves on to something else. Only sometimes will a reader hold onto the paper and read it again in the future. And lastly, paper would have to be continuously purchased because of its limited use, and so the effect on the environment is worsened.
In a classroom setting, because people likely have smart devices already, and because there are many readings and the paper used to print them would almost entirely go to waste, I think the best choice would be to access the literature electronically.
Upon analyzing environmental impacts of printing paper and laptops throughout their lifecycles, sharing of digital files stands out as an optimal option for distribution of reading materials in EID/ME 416. Benefits of this option include, but are not limited to, comparatively lower energy.
To begin with, let us scrutinize a life cycle of an average laptop personal computer, considering laptop PC is a most dominantly used personal device in a classroom circumstance. The first stage of a PC’s life cycle is mining metals and other raw materials. Eight hazardous materials can be found in commonly contained metals in a PC; these include antimony, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, lead, mercury, selenium. Energy then would be consumed to convert these raw materials to a computer that works. “Hard facts” show that 3010 to 4340 MJ of primary energy are consumed to manufacture a typical laptop which constitutes 70 % of the energy it will consume in its lifecycle. To acquire this amount of energy needs to burn fossil fuels that weigh 10 times as heavy as a typical PC. Unfortunately, energy consumed in packaging and waste processing has yet to be accounted for to make estimations closer to the reality.
Varying on a individual basis, it is less likely to have a precise account of the electricity consumption when a laptop is in use. However, rough ideas can be given upon some assumptions. Say, if a laptop is being used for this 16-week course, which runs on 50 watts of electricity, and if 3 hours were dedicate per week to viewing reading materials after class, 8 MJ would be consumed solely for reading assignments.
After 4 to 5 years of use, a laptop PC enters its final stage of life, where disposals of obsolete parts would result in not. Energy saved by Recycling of obsolete computer parts may not seem attractive enough as less than 20% of total manufacturing energy actually goes to part making. The 8 hazardous metals make this process additionally complicated.
As a side note to the use of PCs as a learning device, storing data in the cloud incurs 3 to 7 kWh of electricity per gigabyte: a digitalized textbook usually contains a gigabyte of data. That is to say, 10 to 25 MJ of electricity would be consumed. It is noteworthy that some cloud service providers power their data center with 100% renewable energy, which can result in less environmental impact than one may read from the numerals.
In comparison with its electronic counterpart, a lifecycle of an paper sheet will too be looked at so that we can give a general idea of how much it would cost to manufacture a hard copy of a 300-page book. While 50 percent of papermaking fiber comes from recovered fiber, recovered fiber only makes up to 8 % of printing and writing grade paper. As the major source of virgin wood fiber, 4.4 tons of fresh trees are required to make 1 ton of fiber. Energy input to make one sheet of letter sized printing paper is reportedly 38.0 kJ, while an addition of 8.5 kJ per sheet is consumed for printing on both sides. The sum energy consumption for printing of a 300-page, (i.e. 150-sheet,) paperback copy of a textbook would amount to 14.0MJ. It is left unknown how much of the 14 MJ is sourced from renewable energy; 100% would hardly be the case.
As previously indicated, a sheet of writing or printing paper contains 8% of recovered fiber by weight. Unless this industrial standard was changed, by few means would a book manufacturer considerably and profitably reduce energy consumption and wood harvesting by paper recycling.
One last assumption is to be made to save us an effort of having to closely look at individual cases. Assume that all students in this class have had reliable access to a laptop that would not incur any maintenance or replacement cost, which is very likely to be the case. With all parts that have been manufactured and all harms that have been done, our present goal is to prevent more damages or burden from being imposed to the natural environment. Keeping a digital copy in the cloud would allow students to use a pre-owned device to view course materials, which should cause no additional harm to the environment.
After all, this option still leaves the final decision to students; instead of all but abiding by a populist decision, students would be expected to make their own ethical call on whether a soft copy ought to be printed, not only out of their own preference, but also based on what the world really needs for its ecological sustainability.
Define optimal solution: Optimal solution for distribution of reading materials is the one that requires less time and technology to make, and/or the better to learn.
(A) Everyone procures their own physical copies.
Analysis: Physical copies require paper. Paper manufacturers use water and wood to make new paper. 1 tree worth of wood will make abut 15 reams of paper (1 ream = 500 sheets of paper) or 7500 sheets of paper.
There are 15 students in the classroom needing physical copies. Assume that there will be 500 pages worth of reading for each student, which will be 250 sheets when pages are printed front and back. Then for each to procure a physical copy, this will be a total of 250*15= 3750 sheets needed, or ½ of a regular tree’s wood. Ink will also be consumed in the process of printing the physical copies. (Assuming same black inks will be used for all other printing.) Students will spend time procuring the copies, and can do so easily on bookstore or amazon.com. Takes a few hours to a few days to get hold of a copy.
The physical copies are likely becoming waste after the academic semester and be used.
Physical copy is better than an electronic copy – less distractive and people can remember contents better reading a paper copy
(B) We all share some number of course reading copies
Analysis: I have two interpretations on solution B. Interpretation 1: Students are in possession of physical copies and physical reproduce them to share. Material cost wise, same as (A). Difference is that shared physical copies are produced by student.
Students who hold physical copies need to reproduce them to share. For me this is quite a bit of hassle, and I would rather avoid.
Interpretation 2: Students have physical copies that they can share with others outside of class times. No need to reproduce copy. Assuming each student can share with 2 other students of course reading copy, material used would be 1/3rd of the material cost in (A).
(C) Everyone receives physical reproductions each week.
Analysis: Material cost, same as (A).
Instructor will spend time reproducing the copies each week. This may use up some of instructor’s time that could be used to do other things (grading, preparing course materials, or leisure times). So instructors may not like doing it after all.
(D) Everyone accesses shared digital files on their personal internet gateways.
Analysis: Every member of class needs a computer for a total of 15. So computer manufacturers will need to assemble them. Materials used: copper, aluminum, plastic. These raw materials are processed with energy and turned into electronics components (chips, circuits, motherboards), fins, fans, and computer casing. They are assembled together by humans and/or robots. The computer for digital media requires more material than physical copies.
It is relatively easy to share material through the net with computers (e.g. Google Drive, Dropbox), and instructor (or anyone sharing) can it in a an hour or two.
However, students reading digital files may not remember the content well compared to reading physical copy.
Moreover, students may get distracted when they perform readings there (e.g. computer games, and or social media.)
Digital file is obsolete after the end of semester. Computers can be used much longer though.
(E) Some other alternatives… Make the class a free seminar discussion with no required reading sets.
In terms of material use, this probably eliminates physical copies/digital media distribution of reading materials. But it may not be optimal for learning and meeting the course objectives.
In my opinion, I would recommend (A). If everyone procures a physical copy, it does not consume too much material compared to acquiring computer and digital media, and its good for absorbing contents (plus, less distractions from gaming.) (B) can also work, but sharing course readings may not always work optimally as students may have different work schedules and preferences.
As a class, I believe we should each decide what medium we prefer to use. Assuming we have all done research on the environmental impacts of each of these media - electronic and paper - I think that each person should consider how each of these options affects their ability to learn and retain information and decide what is truly “optimal" for them as individuals. The optimal balance between our education and the environmental impacts that it has on the planet is up to each individual’s values and personal beliefs. As far as I was able to find out from my research, the environmental impacts of both the paper manufacturing industry and the electronics manufacturing industry are both extremely negative. Either way, you are somehow harming the environment and utilizing materials.
In the case of electronic copies for the readings in this class, if one assumes that all students already possess or have access to electronic devices, the effect of reading the electronic copies will be negligible because we have harmed and already will harm the environment, regardless of whether we do our readings on our devices or not. I don’t think anyone will be buying an electronic device just for this class. As such, we are taking advantage of materials that we have already consumed (or wasted, depending on your POV) to perform a function that will aid us in our education.
It is important to note, however, that our electronic devices also do not last forever. The repeated use of the devices will slowly chip away at their useful lives until they are no longer functional and need to be thrown away or recycled. If they are thrown away thoughtlessly, they can cause extremely negative effects on the environment. E-waste recycling is possible and it happens around the world, but in most cases affluent countries don’t want to deal with it because the process is costly, so they export their waste to third world countries with looser regulations. In other words, not damaging the environment after consuming electronic products is difficult, and it’s not under the consumer’s control. Governments have to regulate and enforce laws, but we are not at that stage yet as a global community. So it might be sensible to try and minimize the amount of electronic products that we consume, or buy products from companies that have sustainable practices when it comes to disposing of their products, as well as during the manufacturing process.
The paper industry is also extremely detrimental to the environment and is extremely resource intensive. Deforestation and all types of pollution - air, water, and soil - are common characteristics of the paper milling industry, not to mention that it is energy intensive, which comes with another entire set of environmental impacts depending on the energy source and location of the manufacturing facilities. In sum, consuming excess paper in any form, be it paperback, hardcover, or printed at the Cooper Union Computer Center, is not helping the environment by any means. Consuming paper feeds the industry with more reasons to produce and sell more, and it also exacerbates the negative impacts of paper waste in landfills. The paper manufacturing process utilizes a lot of materials and resources that can pollute the environment when not disposed of correctly, much like the electronic devices. The consumption of paper can be easily avoided if one already owns an electronic device, but utilizing electronic devices also consumes energy that often comes from non-renewable sources. Ideally, paper copies of the readings would be reutilized and passed on to other people so that their useful lives are extended and the materials are taken advantage of to their fullest before going into the waste or recycling systems. Moreover, paper is, at its core, a renewable material that can be relatively easily grown and disposed of. It is also relatively easily recycled and can be reused, but the manufacturing and remanufacturing processes still pollute the environment with non-renewable sources of energy and chemicals that are not easily removed from the environment. Sustainable practices in paper-manufacturing industry is possible, but just like in the electronics industries, it is not likely to happen due to the abundance of materials and environmental negligence that we live in at the moment.
In summary, on a practical level, it is probably best for each of us to decide which medium of learning is most optimal for each of us. In addition, each student has access to the computer center at Cooper Union, but it might be inequitable for us to assume that all of us can comfortably buy books. As such, from the point of view of a student who does not want to spend more money than necessary, it would be ideal if we all had access to online copies that we can either read through PDFs on electronic devices or print out at the computer center. Those of us with the ability and desire to purchase physical copies of the textbooks should be allowed to do so, but it would be unfair to force all students to buy the books. One point that we might want to bring up, however, is that electronic devices can be a distraction during class discussions, as well as useful tools. As such, perhaps having each of us students possess physical copies of our notes might be helpful if it is necessary to induce class discussions in the future (I don’t actually think this will be a problem, though). I also don’t want to waste Prof. Petralia’s time in making him print out copies of the reading for every class if not everyone prefers physical copies of the readings.
Option B, We all share some number of course reading copies, seems to be the most sustainable and effective choice for the handling of reading materials in EID/ME416. This can be done through the sharing of a combination already owned book copies, a few newly purchased materials, and a few printed pdfs to mitigate the cost of book buying (though the ratio of pdf to books would be decided upon by the group and limited by the group’s purchasing power).
Paper is one of the most sustainable materials that our modern world uses, because it is produced from a renewable resource -trees- which the many paper making companies are very protective of. International Paper, one of the largest pulp and paper making mills in the world emphasizes the importance of sustaining forests because the company has a strong understanding that without a healthy supply of forests, there is no business. This effort consists of working with tree farmers, encouraging people who have forests to keep and maintain them rather than selling the land for development or other non-forest uses, and increasing their facilities capabilities for using recycled materials while also experimenting with ways to increase the collection of used paper to supply their facilities. Overall, the industry is changing to be more environmentally responsible. About 40-50 percent of the fiber used in papermaking is derived from recycled paper and the rest of the wood usually comes forest thinning, using slow-growing or defective trees, or lumber milling residues, otherwise unusable materials. And in 2015 the paper industry accounted for 5 percent of the of the 27.24 billion pounds of production-related waste. Paper is also one of the most recycled materials out there, meaning that its use is relatively guilt free, especially in comparison to computer usage.
The movement to go green and reduce the use of paper in favor of digital screens is faulty. For a book to be produced, materially there needs to the raw material, a tree, that is then processed into wood chips to be turned into pulp and then made into paper, which can be effectively recycled into new paper or composted. Furthermore, most of the energy used in paper mills is derived from burning the parts of the wood that is unsuitable for papermaking. Meanwhile, for digital reading to occur, before anything else, people need to have internet access which requires infrastructure for the internet: telephone lines, cable systems, and for rural places even satellites. Next step, is to acquire a computer. Computers are made from an extensive variety of different materials, each with their own histories of embedded energy to consider. Of those materials, many are rare metals like ruthenium, which is rarer than gold and platinum and harinum which at its current rate of consumption, may run out in approximately 10 years. Only 12.5% of e-waste is currently recycled, and though E-waste represents only 2% of America’s trash in landfills, it equals 70% of overall toxic waste. The high amounts of lead found in electronics makes their recycling hazardous if not properly handled, which is the case for many overseas recycling plants where workers are processing e-waste without adequate protection, or parts aren't being recycled at all.
In terms of end user experience, I have astigmatism which makes staring at bright screens a strenuous activity at best and painful one at worst. I read with ease on paper and I’m distracted less since the computer offers so many opportunities to escape the reading task at hand. Also I hate annotating on a computer.
The Paper Making Process  is complex and vries on the type of paper made. A general description looks like this: Pulping, to separate and clean the fibres > Beating and refining the fibres > Diluting to form a thin fibre slurry > Suspended in solution > Forming a web of fibres on a thin screen > Pressing the web to increase the density of the material >Drying to remove the remaining moisture > Finishing, to provide a suitable surface for the intended end use.
Paper can be made from any material that is mainly comprised of cellulose, which means that most organic materials will suffice for making paper, but most paper is made from trees and about 50% of the fibers can come from used paper.
The Top 10 Paper Producing Countries in the World are:
Largest pulp and paper mill in the world - International Paper. Location: USA. International Paper is one of the world’s top paper companies and leading producers of fibre-based packaging, pulp and paper. It contains 55, 000 employees operating in more than 24 countries. This company transforms renewable resources into recyclable products that people depend on every day.
The United States of America takes second position with 72.397 million metric tons of paper produced. In 2015, US had recovered 52 million tons (315 pounds) of paper per person in the United States.
International Paper creates:
OCC refers to cardboard.
Production of timber, pulp, and paper is often described as a major driver of global deforestation . This is true to some extent, but the industry is changing its practices to be more environmentally responsible. It’s also important to note that 73 percent of deforestation in tropical and subtropical areas is for agriculture, mainly producing palm oil, soybeans and beef.
Consumers can encourage sustainable use of wood by purchasing only products that display certifications from groups such as the Forest Stewardship Council and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.
The industry also has greatly reduced the quantity of materials that it discharges to the environment over the past 40 years. In 2015, it accounted for just 5 percent of the 27.24 billion pounds of production-related waste reported by U.S. manufacturers.
The industry is changing to be more environmentally responsible. In 2015 the paper industry accounted for 5 percent of the of the 27.24 billion pounds of production-related waste.
Recommendation: Due to the lack of negligible pollution associated with such a small sample size, do what is best for the students’ ability to absorb the material. Allow as many students in the class to print out physical copies and as many to use digital copies.
(A) Everyone procures their own physical copies
Energy at the factory:
Pages: 496; round to 500 pages
Assume 20 students
Tress used : 1.2
Weight of each book: 1.9 pounds
Energy used to create 20 books : 211.55 KwH; 10 kWH per book
Water used to create 20 books : 1,015 gallons/ 50.78 per book or 362 Gallon / 18.12 per book, depending on sheet or weight
Energy for Transportation:
MPG of trucks : 7.28
Distance to Cambridge to cooper : 220
Minimum capacity of class 8 truck 33,000 lb
Diesel spent : 0.035 gallon
CO2 released : 0.78 lb
(B) We all share some number of course reading copies Assume 5 copies. The cost per book is the same. The total cost is a quarter.
(C) Everyone receive physical reproductions each week
This would be printed from Cooper Union so the $32 goes away.
Assume 20 pages are needed for each class. That is 400 pages in total. Double side so 200 pages.there are 15 classes left so 3,000 pages. This is about a third compared to 10,000 pages if the book was bought. This would be a third of energy, tree, water, waste etc… for the paper production.
The cost for shipping the book from the press to cooper also goes away.
The unprinted paper still needs to reach the source of printing in both cases but there are local paper plants in both cases so we can assume they cancel
The printing process is probably less efficient and therefore more costly if it is printed at cooper.
Printing the textbook at a publisher will cost about $5-$7 (https://www.millcitypress.net/author-learning-center/book-printing-costs). That is $100 - $140 for 20
Printing at the Computer center will cost about $70 for 3,000 pages. A toner cost about $150 for 6,500 pages.
Cost per person if we were to print it at cooper goes from $32 out of our own pocket to $3.5 out of Cooper’s pocket.
(D) Everyone accesses shared digital files on their personal internet gateways
This would require me to bring my gaming laptop. The laptop will consume 57 Watt Hour. That is 17 kWH for 20 people for 15 classes, which is less than the energy to make 2 books. This number is on the high end as gaming laptop consumes more energy than other laptops.
Calculating the energy to transport the laptop from home to class. I go to work before class so my car would be carrying it around for about 50 miles. The laptop is 2.5 kg. I drive 50 miles in 2.5 hours commuting. Ke=1/2MV^2 so 500 joules per day, 7,500 joules total, 2 Watt Hour total.
Bringing a laptop to class also increases the risk of breaking it. Past experience has shown this. The laptop is roughly $1,000. Calculating this intangible risk is not possible at the moment.
I can simply use my phone or a tablet.
(E) Some other alternative...
A varied approach or printed, physical and electronic copy.
Calculations - https://www.desmos.com/calculator/16s64dxjpy