Materials in a
Circular Economy

WEEK #2:
Case study: Digital versus physical media
September 10, 2019

Weekly topics

✓  0109/03Who are we? What can we do?
✓  0209/10Case study: Digital versus physical media
0309/17Food preparation
1111/12Material flows
1211/19Major impactors
1311/26Design for dissassembly
1412/03Re-mining materials
1512/10Re-engineering materials

Home Work No. 2
9/10 through 9/17
(Prep for Week No. 3 - Food Preparation)

Submit work to 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.

  1. READINGS: Read, annotate, and be prepared to discuss:
  2. THESIS: Select (3) primary thesis topics and (2) alternatives. Prepare approx. (200) word descriptions for each of the primary topics. Be sure to outline what you plan to accomplish and how you plan on executing (resources, format, milestones, etc.). You can use the list below for inspiration, or think of something new. During class next week we will meet one-on-one to review your topics.
  3. WEEKLY ISSUE: Work on your scope of this week's issue. Research and prepare a detailed report of what you determined and come to class prepared to speak for 2 to 5 minutes on your findings.
    • TOPIC: Which is a more optimal solution for feeding people in an urban setting:
                         (A) Everyone uses only unpackaged whole foods
                         (B) Everyone uses only packaged goods (even the whole foods are wrapped)
                         (C) Everyone eats at various private establishments
                         (D) Everyone eats at public cafeterias and food halls
                         (E) Some other alternative...
    • GUIDELINES: We'll break out into groups this week and assign scope items to for us each to work on collaboratively. Reports will be submitted in PDF format for each group, with inline citations like [X] and a reference list at the end. Images can be used throughout the text. Please begin your report with an executive summary.

Thesis Ideas

  1. Role of student activism in slowing down climate change
  2. To sell or to save: Shortening products’ lifecycles to promote sales
  3. Air pollution, air as an irreplaceable natural resource
  4. Industrial Automation and its impacts on environment and employment
  5. Gamification, Internet culture and circular economy, (recycling as a social competition, Pornhub plant trees for every hundred views)
  6. How are companies transforming their branding to be focused on circular economies. a. Ikea wants to clean up India’s skies by turning waste into products. b. 9 Brands Rethinking Textiles for the Circular Economy
  7. Textiles – consideration of manufacturing process & degradation of garment – lifespan of textile. a. Vollebak’s plant and algae T-Shirt becomes “worm food” in 12 weeks b. Freitag’s compostable clothing line
  8. Focus on products which are designed for consumption and disposal – how is that displayed in the design of expiration dates? a.
  9. Implementing circular economies into existing engineering curriculum.
  10. Recursive design and cybernetics in the 21st Century.
  11. New manufacturing processes – 3D additive manufacturing.
  12. Trade / shipping – new age of trade in circular economy.
  13. Shared economy – Transition towards an economy of sharing rather than consumption and ownership (i.e. subscription services such as Fjong and Grover).
  14. Biomass – repurposing waste streams for new materials.
  15. Closed Loop Manufacturing (CLM) & Sustainable Supply Chain Networks (SSCN).
  16. Transition from mass markets to micro markets.
  17. Emissions control - Associated emissions in manufacturing new materials,
  18. Continuation of whole earth essay – history of systems thinking informing our current state of technology – how is a circular economy implemented within the historical state of something or other
  19. Circular clean energy small scale community systems – energy grids / systems.
  20. Biomimicry in new product design.
  21. Population control
  22. Materials and land use in agricultural industries and how to sustainably feed communities
  23. Pharmaceutical industry and their manufacturing process
  24. Case study of specific company that claims to be “sustainable"
  25. Biodegradable materials and their true effect on the environment
  26. Wood as a material in the construction industry - Recent research and case studies (Why is it not used in the US as much as it is in other places around the world?)
  27. The Beauty Industry and Its Effects on the Environment (Are your skincare products killing the environment?)
  28. Sustainable Fashion: Is there such a thing? How the fast-fashion industry works, and how it can be changed
  29. Planned Obsolescence and its true costs
  30. A study on the external costs of a materialistic and growth-focused economy and society
  31. The human body and its cycle on earth: How to dispose of your own body after you die
  32. Good Design: A study on sustainable product design and recent findings on materials that can help us move towards a net-zero waste society
  33. The automobile industry and the material life cycle of a car
  34. Developing a Business Model that is Compatible with the Current Economic System: How to Create a Business that Doesn’t Rely on Planned Obsolescence
  35. Is GDP growth a reliable measure of a country’s health? Studies on economic health measures
  36. Globalized Economy: Good or Bad? An exploration of the environmental consequences of a globalized material economy
  37. Estimate the amount of construction materials (e.g. concrete, drywall, wood, steel) used in buildings and bridges and amount wasted. What are solutions to reduce waste materials?
  38. Estimate the number of harmful substances in an American family, and problem resolution by changing product use habits.
  39. The volume of trash that ends up where it should not be (e.g. disposed batteries in landfills; this should not happen as battery chemicals can pollute the soil.) and does garbage separation by type alleviate such problem. If so, how much?
  40. Comparison of material consumption/waste and pollution cost in using gas vs electricity for heat.
  41. How much material is used to build a computer and how much of it ends up recycled to a new computer after its usage life ended?
  42. How much less material can be recycled from cars in the US due to severe crashes and burnt ups?
  43. The environmental impacts if the Trump administration succeeded in bringing all manufacturing back to the United States?
  44. Optimal solutions for US garbage disposal and recycling in the aftermath of China’s ban on garbage imports.
  45. Compare the cost and output of living on vs off the grid (off grid = without external electricity supply, gas and water piping, and sewer system).
  46. How much less material we can exhaust if we use phone for as long as possible rather than buying a new phone once rolled out (i.e. don’t succumb to planned obsolescence)?
  47. Are there ideal substitutes for plastics in terms of usefulness, recyclability, decomposition, and manufacturing/processing cost?
  48. What abilities/capacities in the (circular) economy do we lose due to forest depletion (e.g. Amazon rain forest fire)? What impact does it have on our lives?
  49. Cities in desert: Do cities in arid climates have a more sustainable resource management compared to other places?
  50. Sustaining growing population with material recycling and new food processing technologies: how far can we go?
  51. Government policies: What the institutions can do to promote environmental awareness and sustainable use among people and corporations?
  52. The Food Industry and Food Waste; Farm to Table and Table to Farm - Is it viable?
  53. Composting
  54. Farmer’s Markets
  55. Can Organic Produce Feed the World?
  56. Decentralization of food production: farming’s moving indoor: vertical farming, National security, international collaboration
  57. Education, employment, finance
  58. Dietary: Street food could be eco-friendly; is veganism eco-friendly?
  59. Transportation
  60. In order to reestablish a healthy connection of the Earth, we must also understand the past understandings of labor to agriculture to undo and create a new healthy understanding of harvest, planting, and natural resources.
  61. The reason why past understandings of how to relate to the Earth are admired and looked upon is because they understood the idea of respect for the land and what is understood as “nature”. We must understand that we live with Nature, not as a competitor or something for our well being. In order to ensure our well being, we need a symbiotic relationship to it.
  62. In order to build a sustainable future system, we must include that comfort and happiness must be an index that is strived for. Profiteering and business inherently undermines the human well being, and values specific kinds of knowledge, instead of felt emotion.
  63. Capitalism is a system which inherently detaches humans from themselves, from self knowledge, and knowledge of where the items humans consume come from. This is why localized systems are favored in general.
  64. Ecosystems, plants, and species belong to specific kinds of lands. The Global South has been a highly contested, mined lands because of the Global North’s understanding of how rich in resources and materials it is. In order to undo all this, we must understand that specific species of plants and animals are limited in nature.
  65. All nature has its limits. No resource is inextinguishable.
  66. Much of our development has been steered towards profit-making, created as an illusion of progress. Progress has been a term defined by others and illusory. We have had the ability to severely change our current path but it is an accumulation of a select few making large, defining decisions that lead us to where we are now.
  67. We must overcome the barriers of racism, xenophobia, queerphobia to create a solution that is specific, yet inclusive of all diverse perspectives and states.
  68. Farming should be uplifted, and appreciated instead of stigmatized and associated with lack of initiative, or being an unwanted profession in America. It is the basis of our existence.
  69. In order for farms, and the lands they exist on, to prosper, they must include a diverse field of crops and be agroecological. Conventional farming techniques only harm the land, humans, and plants that work it.
  70. Specialization, a product of modern systemic standardization, is detrimental to human capacity because it leaves us short sighted and unable to seek the pitfalls of our own lack of knowledge. Having a diverse understanding of different fields is important, and natural to human condition.
  71. There is power to the human intuition because it allows us to understand our own biology and our connection to our bodies.
  72. Standardization and homogenization has been an ideological threat to our existence because, on all fronts, it has negated us from our own existences. Difference is inherent to the human condition. To standardize or homogenize any practice, technique, or idea will always lead to a group of individuals or something to be spared, the antithesis of a closed-looped system.
  73. Emotions should also be valued, felt and upheld as a basis for knowledge. Knowledge that is felt or embodied is valuable because it grounds us in our understandings of ourselves and does not lead to neglect.
  74. Communism and socialism are demonized alternative economic systems because a set of core values that are promulgated by the American system of values. Capitalism is equally as neglectful and any other attempt at creating alternative system should not mean that we ideologically take it as a monolith.
  75. Social media and our conception of climate change: information, knowledge
  76. Consumerism and global warming: trump administration recently lift bans on low efficiency light bulbs
  77. Versions of “truth” of global warming, reflecting the deep root of political interest
  78. Individual and collective interest: self-discipline: freedom + liberty, nobody wins unless everybody wins
  79. Our relationship to our land: Culturally; Linguistically; motherland
  80. Democracy/freedom vs. governmental regulation/law enforcement in saving the earth
  81. The transition to renewable energy from current, dangerous methods
  82. The political intervention necessary to make noticeable change
  83. Circular Economy failing at the cost of neoliberalism…
  84. Obsession with objects → success equates to more materials procured (generation wealth)
  85. Fashion and circular economy: the boom of thrifting
  86. Apocalypse: Why can’t we imagine a world post-capitalism -- is a circular economy the best post-capitalistic utopia?
  87. A plastic coffin: the boom of alternative packaging (mycomposite evocative design)
  88. Is circular economy the fastest way to bring us to zero waste and carbon neutral
  89. Ethics in globalizing Circular Economy? What is our right to tell others that this is the way?
  90. Can Circular Economy override capitalism, if it runs alongside it would it just be eaten up like everything else. What are the ways to actually ensure it works?
  91. Ghost sites: imagining a future of ex- fracking and mining sites
  92. Circular economy: fostering a collaborative vs. a competitive economy.
  93. Interdisciplinarity: Can more combined think tanks help formulate a circular economy.
  94. What happens with preexisting feedback loops in a circular economy.
  95. Are we in too deep? Is it too late for a circular economy to save the world?
  96. What happens to the circular economy within big corporations? Do they become obsolete?
  97. Pseudospirtualism and deforestation: the extinction of palo santo
  98. Building systems and the price of comfort
  99. Transit alternatives to reduce carbon emissions
  100. Agricultural impact of soy versus chicken
  101. Carbon emissions due to transitioning to all paper packaging versus plastic
  102. The impact of microplastics in the ocean on human health
  103. Recyclability of cosmetic product packaging
  104. The lifecycle of physical exfoliating scrubs (typically containing plastic beads)
  105. How sustainable is making inherently unsustainable practices “more” sustainable? (nanotechnology and supercritical carbon dioxide can be used to improve fracking and use less water - however the goal of the project is to improve fracking practices…)
  106. Applications of supercritical carbon dioxide (or CO2 in general…)
  107. Psychological impacts of Americana consumer culture on society
  108. Optimization of the bio-energy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) process - It might be interesting to theoretically design this process at industrial scale…?
  109. Devising a timeline and plan for the transition to biofuels in the auto industry - environmental analysis of biofuels, also analysis of using biofuels on the transportation of raw materials and consumer products
  110. Analysis of fossil fuel donations to Congress members compared to their environmental practices
  111. Is Cooper invested in fossil fuel?! Fully investigating Cooper Union’s current environmental practices and alignments
  112. Applications of ionic liquids as batteries
  113. Different parameters involved in energy storage - what seems to be the best solution?
  114. How the loss of biodiversity impacts human health
  115. Ways to promote sustainable fashion for people on a budget
  116. The reality of Canadian climate initiatives
  117. The turnaround in Brazil after the change in government administration
  118. Monsanto’s effect on the planet
  119. Current plans from climate activists and their feasibility
  120. Koch brothers and their agenda of maintaining the automotive industry
  121. Bees and their integral role in the planet’s survival
  122. Teaching gardening/agroecology in schools as a requirement is crucial for our planet’s future because every child can take those principles, and naturally apply them into their lives and workforce making those ideals the foundation for which decisions are made, not an afterthought.
  123. If Donald Trump stayed on an agroecological farm for one month, he would come ready to sign the Green New Deal.
  124. By building with local materials we can explore the limits and possibilities of that building materials while minimizing unnecessary construction as the impacts of that extraction will be directly felt.
  125. Localizing services bring about a better quality of life because it promotes familiarity, empathy, and community.
  126. More abundant and accessible public transportation will improve the overall commuting experience, making transportation more affordable and reliable and less of a contaminant.
  127. Case Study: Analyzing Waste on a Public Works Construction Site
  128. Revealing Products which Falsely Claim to be Sustainable Solutions
  129. Reflections on The International Conference on Sustainable Infrastructure
  130. Solving the Cooper (Chemical) Engineer Problem: How to Work in Big Oil while Caring about the Planet
  131. Supersize U.S.: How America Became the Consumer Nation
  132. Proposing the Ideal Regulations/Incentives based on Foreign Nations’ Environmental Policies
  133. Solving the Cooper Curriculum Problem: Effectively Introducing Environmental Solutions into ME Undergraduate Curriculum
  134. Increase, Use, Continue the Cycle: Calming the Nation with the Recycling Myth
  135. Implementing Environmentally Safe Practices in Emerging Markets: Cannabis
  136. Possible inclusion: Hydroponics
  137. Handy-Jobs: What Happened to The American Skilled Craftspeople? Exploring the Taboo of Working with Your Hands
  138. Exposing LEED Criteria: Does it Actually Help the Earth?
  139. Solving a Paradox: Going Paperless in the Orthodox Jewish Community
  140. Material Relationships: Why Don’t We Care About Materials the Same Way Greaseheads Care About Leather Jackets?
  141. Is Clothing Made Out Of Hemp a Sustainable Solution?
  142. Maintaining Individual Freedoms in a World with Strict Environmental Regulations
  143. If people were more religious, that is if people had a higher power that they held themsleves accountable to, then maybe we wouldn’t be such destroyers of the land, because religious stories focus on people to nature or animal relations instead of modern stories that are primarily people to people relations effectively removing us from nature and its conversation. We don’t even know it is screaming.
  144. The de-stigmatization of farming and its labor is crucial for the future of food security because farmers are lacking the respect they deserve from all sectors of our society making them the most unheard when they have the most valuable things to say.
  145. Big cities and big businesses makes it easy for people to not know their neighbors or who makes what we consume, effectively making happy passive consumers, keeping us preoccupied and unaware to the sufferings of others.
  146. Analyze the hyperloop idea
  147. Transatlantic gondola. Effect of friction on energy consumption and maximum distance a central motor system is feasible
  148. Glass Building and thermal efficiencies
  149. How mining works. - A single metal/material
  150. Cost of single storm and waste sewer
  151. Farming
  152. Data Mining
  153. Waste in government
  154. Concrete waste
  155. Electric vehicles
  156. Batteries
  157. Waste in packaging / industrial
  158. Garment factory
  159. Military
  160. Nuclear
  161. People might think that we couldn’t predict when a natural disaster is looming, but people have always been able to tell, because nature lets you know. Just before a hurricane, the corals turn white, the swallows are nervously flying around, and the wind stops blowing, there's a silence in the air, everything is waiting.
  162. Specialization makes viable solutions hard to come by because it leaves gaps that are filled through other disciplines, because everything is interconnected.
  163. Local sources of knowledge are invaluable as that knowledge is bound to the site physically and emotionally.
  164. The levels of comfort and convenience that we experience are in need of decline if we are going to become a more sustainable society, because resources are limited, we are consuming our comforts to excess, and leaving the rest of the world unlivable.
  165. There is no time left to spend working with industries to become more sustainable. These industries need to stop production all together because the effects of climate change are being felt now and their sole purpose is to produce in excess for profit not need.
  166. The Cost of Recycling: Correct vs Incorrect Ways of Recycling and its Consequences
  167. Determining the “Real Cost” of Items – Redefining Costs with Impact
  168. Removing vs Generating Trash – How to Break the Cycle
  169. Why it’s so Difficult to Move Towards a Circular Economy
  170. What “Zero Waste” Means, and What its Impact is
  171. Being Mindful in Choosing Materials for Product Design
  172. The Past and Now: Product Updates and How They Impacts Consumers
  173. Convenience vs Necessity
  174. A Circular Economy and its Implementation
  175. What is the Ideal Scenario/Status for a Circular Economy to Occur?
  176. Applications of Concepts of Circular Economy at the University Level
  177. How Did We Get Here? The State of Overconsumption and Possible Solutions
  178. Implementing the Concepts of Circular Economy in a Business Model
  179. Can Global Warming Really Be Stopped with No Meat?
  180. Do Individual Actions Matter? How Individuals Can/Cannot Impact the Environment
  181. The elimination of arts, shop, and Home Ec classes from schools creates a society that values labor of the four core classes above all else effectively stigmatizing and undervaluing those labors and removing that knowledge from the general public and into privatized hands.
  182. If it doesn't grow within 100 miles of your location, don’t eat it.
  183. Organic alternatives to current materials in products
  184. How to rebuild the things we’ve lost and/or destroyed on the planet
  185. Redistribution of the population to conserve energy
  186. The direct and indirect effect of high food consumption on animals of all species
  187. The reality of some seemingly beneficial climate initiatives

Digital vs Physical Media

(In no particular order)

REC 0650 - Digital

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.

REC 1108 - Physical

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.[1] 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.[2] 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.[3]

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.[4] 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.[5]

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.[6] 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.[7] 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.


  1. Design Life-Cycle, White Paper Processing
  2. New York Times, How Green Is My iPad?
  3. UK Essays, Life Cycle Analysis of Paper Production Environmental Sciences Essay
  4. CILIP – The Library and Information Association, How Green is my eBook?
  5. CILIP – The Library and Information Association, How Green is my eBook?
  6. Eileenwjl, A Life Cycle Analysis: An Apple MacBook Pro Portable Computer — My Purchase of the Week
  7. The Hechinger Report, Textbook Dilemma: Digital or Paper?

REC 0610 - Physical

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 [1]. 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 [2]. 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.



REC 1200 - Physical

Pick your poison: the greater of two evils?

“Transporting data now uses 50 percent more energy than world aviation.”[1]

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.


  1. Douglas Coupland, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Shumon Basar.The Age of Earthquakes, Penguin Random House 2015

REC 1159 - Digital

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.

REC 0335 - Digital

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.[1] 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.[2] 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.[3]

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.[4] 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.


  1. Gajjar, P; MNN: Computers and the Environment
  2. Cooney, M; Network World: Computer Factories Eats Away More Energy Than Running the Devices they Build
  3. Jain, A; Laptop and Desktop Energy Comparison
  4. Pydipati, T; “Energy Use of Print vs. Electronic Media”; Stanford University

REC 0809 - Physical

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.

  1. (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 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

  2. (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).

  3. (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.

  4. (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.

  5. (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.

  6. 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.

    REC 1130 - Digital

    Thoughts and Conclusions:

    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.


    1. Current market trends according to
    2. E-book sales in the US are actually declining, at $1.1 billion in 2017, and hardcover and paperback books still rule the market with $2.8 billion each
    3. This might suggest consumer preference for physical copies when reading and choosing books as opposed to electronic copies
    4. According to, the cost of printing a book is only approximately 8% of the price of the book, and prices for e-books are comparable to their physical copies.
    5. Paper copies:
    6. Less straining on the eyes
    7. As a learning medium, paper copies of texts are perceived to be better, but research suggests that there isn’t a direct correlation between the medium of content and the retention of information for students. However, it could be argued that the use of computers and other electronic devices can be a distraction for students.
    8. Electronic Copies:
    9. Eyes can become strained, but there is no significant health hazard when it comes to reading on electronic screens when compared to reading paper copies. Students should just make sure they rest their eyes when reading in order to avoid irritation and dryness in their eyes.
    10. aspx
    11. E-waste:
    13. Links:
    17. Paper Materials Life Cycle:
    18. Paper pulp mills contribute to air, water, and land pollution
    19. Discarded paper (albeit not just from reading books) is a major component of landfills, accounting for about 35 percent by weight of MSW. ( QmXoypizjW3WknFiJnKLwHCnL72vedxjQkDDP1mXWo6uco/wiki/ Environmental_impact_of_paper.html)
    20. Pulp and paper is the third largest polluter to air, water, and land in Canada and the US
    21. Pulp and paper industry is the fifth largest consumer of energy in the world, accounting for 4% of the world’s energy use
    22. Paper production is usually a monoculture, which degrades soil and ecological systems
    23. Deforestation is one of the effects of producing so much paper around the world, and sustainable practices are usually not enforced in countries
    24. After paper is produced, the distribution process also consumes energy and resources, not to mention the amount of low-cost and low-skill labor that goes into the shipping and manufacturing industry. The type of paper that we would use for these reading assignments would probably come from plants in the US, China, or Japan, which account for more than half of global paper manufacturing industry
    25. yInternational Paper is an American company that leads paper production globally, with $23.3 billion USD in revenue in 2018.
    26. 2007/
    27. FSC Certified paper and sustainably sourced paper could be used to minimize environmental impacts
    29. Electronics Materials Life Cycle:
    30. Electronics Manufacturing Industry is one of the biggest industries in the world, continually growing thanks to the demand for technological devices around the world.
    31. This includes consumer goods as well as all other electronic goods. The industry is known for outsourcing its manufacturing process to developing countries around the world in order to minimize costs of production and maximize profitability. In a profit and growth-driven economic system that is not regulated in order to ensure sustainable and environmentally friendly practices, companies are bound to harm the environment, as well as the health of communities around the world, especially in countries with higher rates of poverty.
    32. Even within the US, manufacturing plants and areas affected by pollution are a matter of social equity and justice. When companies decide to keep their factories in the US, employees and local residents suffer from inadequate regulations. Pollution and health risks are not properly taken care of, and communities that are often poorer are targeted by these corporations that only seek to maximize profits. Communities with no money or political leverage are helpless when manufacturing industries establish factories where they live. In the US, this often also implies racial discrimination because race and socioeconomic status are correlated. Communities with lower income tend to be communities with more people of color
    33. Electronic goods are also not usually disposed of properly in the US. After products reach the end of their useful lives, the recycling and disposal process tend to be costineffective, which means that companies and the government will outsource and export the electronic waste to other countries around the world. These countries often have looser regulations when it comes to environmental concerns and health issues. However, this also applies to the paper manufacturing industry, so this isn’t that important given the objective of this discussion.

    REC 0953 - Physical

    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,[1] 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.[2] 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.[3] 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.[4] 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 [5] 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.

    Who produces Paper ?

    The Top 10 Paper Producing Countries in the World are:

    1. China
    2. United States of America
    3. Japan
    4. Germany
    5. Republic of Korea
    6. Brazil
    7. Finland
    8. Canada
    9. Sweden
    10. Italy

    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:

    1. Papers that facilitate education and communication
    2. This company creates pulp for diapers, tissue and other personal hygiene products that promote health and wellness.
    3. International Paper creates packaging products that protect and promote goods, enable worldwide commerce and keep consumers safe
    4. It produces paper bags, cups and food containers that provide convenience and probability for the on-the-go consumer.[6]

    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.[7]

    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.[8]

    Facts about E-waste
    1. 80 to 85% of electronic products were discarded in landfills or incinerators, which can release certain toxics into the air.
    2. E-waste represents 2% of America’s trash in landfills, but it equals 70% of overall toxic waste. The extreme amount of lead in electronics alone causes damage in the central and peripheral nervous systems, the blood and the kidneys.
    3. 20 to 50 million metric tons of e-waste are disposed worldwide every year.
    4. Cell phones and other electronic items contain high amounts of precious metals like gold or silver. Americans dump phones containing over $60 million in gold/silver every year.
    5. Only 12.5% of e-waste is currently recycled.
    6. For every 1 million cell phones that are recycled, 35,274 lbs. of copper, 772 lbs. of silver, 75 lbs. of gold, and 33 lbs. of palladium can be recovered.
    7. Recycling 1 million laptops saves the energy equivalent to the electricity used by 3,657 U.S. homes in a year.
    8. E-waste is still the fastest growing municipal waste stream in America, according to the EPA.
    9. A large number of what is labeled as “e-waste” is actually not waste at all, but rather whole electronic equipment or parts that are readily marketable for reuse or can be recycled for materials recovery.
    10. It takes 539 lbs. of fossil fuel, 48 lbs. of chemicals, and 1.5 tons of water to manufacture one computer and monitor.
    11. Electronic items that are considered to be hazardous include, but are not limited to:Televisions and computer monitors that contain cathode ray tubes, LCD desktop monitors, LCD televisions, Plasma televisions, Portable DVD players with LCD screens.[9]



      REC - 1223 Equal impact

      Writing on Paper

      1. Writing on Paper Helps: [1]
        • Learn / Memorize (Muscle Memory)
        • Focus (by stimulating RAS + Limiting Distractions)
        • Slow down (essential in a fast-paced modern life) [2]
        • Promote handiness and helps develop arm strength
      2. If buying book, helps to support original authors
        • However, as poor students: should our university
      3. Deforestation and It’s Subsequent Problems [3]
        • CO2 emissions
        • Animals lose their land
        • Moisture into atmosphere
        • Pulp and paper is the 3rd largest industrial polluter of air, water and soil. [4]
          • Chlorine-based bleaches are used during production which results in toxic materials being released into our water, air and soil; PCB’s released into rivers [5]
          • When paper rots, it emits methane gas which is 25 times more toxic than CO2
        • Energy/Water Consumption
        • Solid Waste Produced
        • Inefficient a. Most humans can type faster than they write b. Possibility of getting lost / more easily damaged


      1. Pros
        • Less immediate pollution
        • More easily accessible for students
        • Cheaper
      2. Cons
        • No muscle memory association / Lack of complete absorption
        • Distractions
        • Allows for pirating / copyright evasion

      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.



      REC 0835 - Unclear

      (A) Everyone procures their own physical copies
      Energy at the factory:
      Amazon Data
      Cost: $32
      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 ( 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 -