One of the Biggest Myths of the Digital Age

One of the biggest myths of the digital age is that reading material on an electronic device is the environmentally responsible method; remember to “think about the environment” before printing, to save trees, and that using your handy modern tablet to access information is better for the ecosystem than those awful paper publications.

Think about that.

Yes, paper comes from trees.

Trees grow back. The growing process of trees is actually beneficial for the environment. Trees are a replenishing resource. It’s the circle of life.

We are nowhere close to running out of trees.

There are some irresponsible timber companies out there who damage some areas of the earth, who take trees and do not replant, but many will plant two trees for every one they cut. There is a way to be responsible about harvesting trees while not completely ravaging a region’s ecosystem.

Much of the paper can be reused. Many newsprint publications are printed on paper that continues to be recycled.

The ink used for the Murfreesboro Pulse, and many other newspapers, is made from soy, and the entire piece is quickly biodegradable.

Even health-conscious gardeners recommend using newspaper with soy ink to layer as a weed block underneath mulch in your garden, or to shred and mix with your compost.

Newspapers turn back into dirt quite quickly, within a few months, even if they are shredded up.

Do not try to add your computer monitor or tablet to your compost pile. An electronic device does not turn back into dirt.

We should know not to throw discarded electronics into landfills, but still, old electronics are a huge source of toxic waste in landfills.

“Toxic e-waste compounds get into the water, the soil and, if burned, even the air,” according to electronicrecyclers.com, which goes on to say that the plastics and metals used in electronics can take hundreds of thousands of years to decompose.

So, 100,000 copies of the Pulse (about the amount we print in a year), decompose faster and more safely than a single iPhone.

Sure, there are ways to recycle most of the materials used in these electronics, but research what happens to your discarded phone and computer monitors when you recycle them. The U.S. sends these devices by the crateful to underdeveloped countries with little to no worker safety standards, and the toxic metals are extracted with toxic chemicals by workers making next to nothing and being physically harmed by the whole process.

Furthermore, energy consumption has increased in the digital age; where does that energy to power your computer, tablet, TV and phone come from?

Sure, Tennessee is able to produce large amounts of electricity with its hydro-electric dam system, but most parts of the country are still powered by coal—the coal industry that has been known to use the environmentally questionable practice of mountaintop removal to get at that powerful black coal.

How is consuming electricity to read something vs. not consuming electricity to read something the green option?

This belief that participating in the continuous cycle of getting the latest electronic device helps the multinational corporations that manufacture and sell them, those pushing hyper-consumerism as the American way of life and the way to stimulate the economy, and the operations who track your online activity so they can send targeted ads based on your lifestyle and interests to your screen.

Not the “environment.”

And yes, I participate in the rise of electronic devices myself. I want readers to access the Pulse website, and I have gone through a few computers in my life, but do think about who is spreading the “green” myth the next time you hear that, and about how they are benefiting from it.


Bracken Mayo 

Publisher/Editor in Chief


About the Author

Bracken, a 2003 graduate of MTSU’s journalism program, is the founder and publisher of The Murfreesboro Pulse. He lives in Murfreesboro with his wife, graphic artist and business partner, Sarah, and son, Bracken Jr. Bracken enjoys playing the piano, sushi, Tool, football, chess, jogging, spending time in his backyard with his chickens, hippie music, climbing at The Ascent, bowling, swimming, soup, tennis, sunshine, revolution, defiance and anarchy. He can cook a mean grilled cheese, and can fry just about anything.

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