A good environmental question: Is streaming greener than vinyl?

One the beneficial things about our move from paper to electronic documents/newspapers/magazines is that we don’t need as many dead trees as we used to.

But what about music? Is streaming a greener way to get music than vinyl (or CDs, for that matter)?

This is from a site called The Ecologist.

Sales of new vinyl records were up by 26.8 percent in the UK last year – with 4.1 million long-players (LPs) purchased.

The vinyl resurgence has been welcomed by music loving discophiles wary of the digitalisation of culture – like Steve. But it’s a source of worry for resource efficiency-minded environmentalists – like Duncan.

Each LP weighs around 135g – so 4.1 million sales mean about 550 tonnes of petroleum-derived, polyvinyl chloride plastic (PVC) entering circulation.

One’s jams

Once manufactured, the distribution of vinyl records also consumes resources. If you want a greener way to listen to a music track, streaming might seem the better option.

But streaming requires server farms, a data connection, a router and a digital device to play it on. The environmental costs here also add up.

Duncan sees Steve as a vinyl-worshipping hipster: Steve thinks Duncan is a resource efficiency fundamentalist, pathologically obsessed with reducing his and everybody else’s environmental impact.

To resolve this impasse amicably, we decided to work together to find out which is really the more sustainable way of listening to one’s jams.

Fascinating. Keep going.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

One thought on “A good environmental question: Is streaming greener than vinyl?

  • March 21, 2018 at 4:46 pm

    A good environmental question: Is streaming greener than vinyl?

    Who gives a crap! I love radio and Sirius and dislike Spotify…cuz not enough artists are or will benefit from this oligarch of cheap deception. Apple radio is the way to promote music online.


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