In the past, I've printed them all out. This allows me to shuffle them around, write on them, bring them with me places, etc. It's also much easier for me to read a physical paper than an electronic one. However recently, I've gotten a lot better at reading papers on the computer, and organizing the files into folders as I see fit.
But the thought of printing out all the papers I'm going to be reading makes me just sick! I just can't justify to myself "wasting" all those trees! Not to mention potentially putting printer toner ink particles into the air for me and my coworkers to breathe (I think the toxicity is currently under debate, but I don't want to breathe printer ink either way).
So I thought about getting an eReader. Something bigger than my cellphone (which has the ability to display .pdf's, if I wanted to read it 2 inches at a time). I could keep lots of pdf's on it at a time, take it with me to the gym* or on the subway, and I wouldn't have to destroy the environment and stretch the office budget with all my printing! Not to mention my office won't look like so many other profs and grad students with haphazard piles of papers everywhere. Sure, it's organized to them...but it just looks like chaos to anyone else.
But even an eReader or other similar electronic device is toxic in it's own right! The production of electronic devices is toxic, as is what happens to them afterward. Even as I'm writing this, Terry Gross on NPR is talking about how corrupt and dangerous electronics recycling is.
And this is where I stand; stuck between 2 horrible options for not being tethered to my computer.
- Print out all the papers I want to read, which consumes paper, ink, and all the petroleum that goes into the shipping and various products associated with paper and ink
- Buy an eReader, the construction of which created toxic waste, and when I "recycle" it will create more toxic waste.
*I have this academic fantasy, where I take all my papers and other reading to the gym and walk on the treadmill while I read so that I'm getting smart and skinny at the same time. It's so embarrassing being a fat ecologist....