Saving the world one (digital) book at a time

PerlegoBy Perlego20th February 20208 Minutes

🤔 Why do we care?

Natural resources are running out at an alarming rate, and we desperately need to find some way to combat this. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has shared the following facts about our use of resources:

  • Trees: “Reducing deforestation and forest degradation rates represents one of the most effective and robust options for climate change mitigation, with large mitigation benefits globally.”
  • Water: “By 2025, almost two-thirds of the world’s population is projected to experience some kind of water-related stress and, for one billion of them, the shortage will be severe and socially disruptive.”

We have to make saving our resources, trees and freshwater, a priority. As for CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions, the IPCC says that “the lower the emissions in 2030, the lower the challenge in limiting global warming to 1.5°C after 2030”. This means that the lower we have our emissions in the next decade, the easier it will be to not reach deadly levels after that. 

At Perlego we take pride in working towards a world in which we are more conscious of our use of resources. Perlego, with an library of more than 250,000 books (and growing), doesn’t only reduce the number of textbooks gathering dust in your attic, but also the resources used (trees and water) and the waste emitted (CO2) in book production.

We wanted to find a way to calculate how much we’ve really achieved. So, we started with this idea: what if Perlego wasn’t a digital library, but a physical one?


General disclaimer

Calculating environmental impact is tricky and so some assumptions needed to be made. To err on the side of caution, we were conservative in these which means that the end result will always show the absolute minimum that we’ve saved.


🌳 How many trees does Perlego save?

There’s an immense variety of trees, books, and types of paper in the world. But let’s assume that you can make 2,000 1kg books from the resource of a single tree. 

This would mean that the 250,000 digital books (and growing) on Perlego save up to 125 trees. That’s more than 10% of all the trees in Richmond Park.


💦 How much water does Perlego save?

A mere sheet of paper uses more than 3 gallons, or 13.6 litres of water. If an average textbook has 300 pages ( a very conservative measure), then our whole library of books saves more than 1 billion litres. 

Since an average Olympic swimming pool contains 2.5 million litres of water, Perlego saves enough water to fill more than 400 Olympic swimming pools. Eat that, Michael Phelps. 


💨 How much CO2 does Perlego save?

We know that the production of a single physical book emits 7.41kg of CO2 on average. That means Perlego has prevented 1.85 million kg of CO2 from being emitted. 

It may be pretty hard to wrap your head around that number so, just bear in mind that flying from London to New York and back generates about 986kg of CO2 per passenger. This then means that our digital library currently saves the equivalent of 1879 transatlantic return flights


What do you think of our savings? Let us know in the comments!