Will tablet computers improve sustainability?

Many people had very high hopes when Steve Jobs introduced the iPad. Some were excited about the ease of use, while others thought it would have a huge effect on how we work and play. Of course it turned out to be a smash hit, and it has sparked tons of competitors and has also negatively impacted laptop sales.

One area that garnered attention had to do with sustainability. The idea was that with the use of tablet computers we would see less use of paper. This seems to be having an effect, as recent articles have suggested that sustainability is a significant benefit resulting from the use of tablets.

. . . the growth of tablets is causing a steep decline in the use of paper, a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, and a decrease in water consumption for the production of electronic devices.

Of course there is also the issue of e-waste that is the negative byproduct of more electronics.

That said, print is not going away. It’s still very important in our business and personal lives. Yes, we read more books now on e-readers, but printed materials remain the preferred option for many people. This also applies to things like brochures and marketing materials. Of course you can surf the web with your tablet to get a printing deal at places like 48 hour print, but those services aren’t going away.

The key is that we now have many more options, and we can decide what is most effective for our purposes. There will definitely be many sustainability benefits, and for that we can all be thankful. But let’s not pretend that everything will change overnight.

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