Wait â€“ isnâ€™t that all wrong? Isnâ€™t downloading the greener option? After all, when we download music, we cut back on CDs and other material things that put a strain on the environment, right?
As a matter of fact, this is what Jonathan G. Koomey, Christopher L. Weber, and H. Scott Matthews shared in a study they released some time ago. Their conclusion was this:
“…despite the increased energy and emissions associated with Internet data flows, purchasing music digitally reduces the energy and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions associated with delivering music to customers by between 40 and 80 percent from the best-case physical CD delivery, depending on whether a customer then burns the files to CD or not. This reduction is due to the elimination of CDs, CD packaging, and the physical delivery of CDs to the household. Based on our assumptions, online delivery is clearly superior from an energy and CO2 perspective when compared to traditional CD distribution.”
And just like that, we have proven the title of this post to be incorrect. Or have we, really?
The authors were quick to point out that this entire scenario is not always applicable. They made assumptions; assumptions that are not always true. We have to take into consideration other factors such as end-user behavior (yes thatâ€™s us!).
What if you walk to the music store to buy CDs instead of driving? What if you had to buy blank CDs or DVDs to burn your downloaded files? What if you printed CD/DVD covers to print your downloaded album art? Taking these factors into consideration, you might not be helping the environment all that much if you downloaded music rather than bought them at the store.
Bottom line: you have to consider ALL players of the game before you go around declaring that by downloading, you are helping the earth. Oh, and there is that issue of where and how you download you content. Thatâ€™s another story altogether, isnâ€™t it?