As an aspiring storyteller, I have a lot of stories that I wish to tell. I say storyteller because I am still not sure as to which medium of storytelling I should pursue, be it books, comics, or animation. As of now, I like martial arts and fight scenes that use them. I draw from inspirations like wuxia films among other martial arts films, relatively grounded superhero stories like Captain America or Daredevil, web animations, and many other mediums so long as they involve martial arts.

However, I also have an interest in conservation, environmental engineering, and the pursuit of a brighter, green future. It's why I will be pursuing Environmental Engineering, as well as why I'm drawing inspiration from the relatively unknown but high in potential Solarpunk movement. Combining these two interests can make a story with an interesting aesthetic and philosophy, but it also leads to a bit of a conundrum that increases my concern for the impact a potentially popular story can have on the environment.

As such, I would like to ask which form of storytelling/writing medium can potentially leave the smallest damaging impact on the environment in the long run. Strange question, I know, but I want to find the right balance between my own desires for a resonant story with cool action, and the pursuit of a greener future. I know that not all mediums are applicable, as most would likely not make the cut from the get go:

  • Printed paper books are a big no-no for me, as they obviously use a lot of paper.
  • Animation and Live-Action Films/Television series are currently the things I have the most interest in, seeing as I enjoy martial arts fight scenes, but I believe that they can be pretty material-intensive. I could do smaller animations on the web, though.
  • Web-based mediums, like web-novels, web-comics, and eBooks seem like they'd be the best bet for me, but there are still some specifics and nuances about these that I'm not sure of, so I'll narrow it down between these three:

Animation, Web-Comics, and Web-Novels

Of these (three) mediums, which would make the best balance between being environmentally safe and being a fun medium to tell resonant stories with?

  • Any of the online mediums you've suggested are environmentally safe when compared to books and printed mediums, since all they require is electricity. So I don't think there's really a need to choose between them for environmental reasons. Just pick whichever you like most.
    – Sciborg
    Commented Aug 13, 2020 at 16:08
  • The most environmentally friendly way would be to just tell your story to other people. However, that would greatly limit your audience and income, so I doubt that's any help.
    – Llewellyn
    Commented Aug 15, 2020 at 11:33
  • This question seems more suited on an engineering forum than here. Please take a look at the tour. Commented Aug 16, 2020 at 10:12
  • 3
    I’m voting to close this question because it is unrelated to the subject of writing. Commented Aug 17, 2020 at 14:52

3 Answers 3


Paper is a renewable resource. Trees are usually harvested from farms now that are constantly being replanted and cut at the best age. There are obviously some exceptions, but you aren't ever reading a book from the trees cut from the blood of the Amazon Rainforest. The greenest you can get is paper, or some variant of it (papyrus, cotton, canvas). You can utilize biological waste and do something unique with it. Other than that, your best bet is drawing in sand, or carving stone tablets with a chisel - electronic mediums are not environmentally friendly.

  • You really don't want an electronic publication if you are serious about conservation, because every single reader who reads your book is creating new carbon, throughout all of time. Paper is wood or cotton - a plant. A plant is made from carbon dioxide and sunlight, and nothing more. There simply is no smaller footprint than having your story being read a limitless number of times on a literal piece of reclaimed carbon dioxide. Manufacture a book once; manufacturer a digital page? Creates CO2 every single time it is opened.
    – Vogon Poet
    Commented Jul 23, 2022 at 18:44

I'll jump in on this one. I'm an Assistant Professor of Interactive Multimedia at Nashville State Community College in Nashville TN. In my classes I talk about how to tell a narrative using different media: video, audio, written, images. I struggle with the environmental impact of storytelling as well.

Having been to several Digital Book World conferences, I can say this for certain. There are audiences for physical books, eBooks, audio books, and Amazon Alexa skills. Everything has an environmental footprint, including digital media. Server farms are notorious energy hogs. So while we like to think that digital media has a clean, low carbon footprint, that is not necessarily so. Also, print on demand only prints books as they are purchased, so there is no waste.

In the end it depends on whether you are creating something in a fixed format or are adding interactivity. As a storyteller, you need to choose what type of story you are going to tell, the media it will be in, and how you want the content consumed.

I'm a member of ALLY (Alliance of Independent Authors). They recommend that you publish wide; i.e. publish the narrative in a variety of formats as you will increase your revenue stream by repurposing the same narrative content for different media and audiences of that media.


The medium with the least worst impact is the oldest, the oral tradition, since it just involves you and your audience. As you move up to the next medium, you increase the environmental impact.

Take theater; it needs physical structures and more people to perform the play and larger audience.

Then books, and I agree with @HDPZR answer entirely, take lots of trees that are sustainably grown, but need shipping to move the around to audiences.

Movies, whether theater or streaming, take a lot of energy to create and a great number of people, and then energy is required for every single viewing.

If you want to have the minimal environmental impact, then stick to oral tradition while wearing sustainably harvested rabbit skins you killed and cured yourself, using your own urine.

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