How Do Online Products And Services Impact The Environment?

from the tough-to-figure-out dept

For the past two years, some researchers have been studying how a shift to online purchasing of digital goods could impact energy usage and the environment. It seems they’ve concluded that there’s no easy answer. While it may consume less direct energy downloading tracks off the internet, rather than hopping into your car and driving to the nearest record store, if you’re leaving that computer on all the time, and burning the songs to blank CDs, it could end up burning more energy. The one thing that is clear, though, is that the online stuff shifts the energy burden from the producer to the consumer of the good. And, of course, ordering a physical product online for delivery makes little difference, since a delivery truck still needs to bring it to your house. The study also looked at some other things, such as online banking – which saves more energy than going to see a teller. It’s not really clear what all of this means, but a group of “scientists and business people” are going to meet next week in Europe to try to figure out what to do with these findings.

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