AskPablo has done the math on the environmental impact of sending one billion DVDs throught the mail:So the total emissions from sending one billion DVDs to its customers is 320 tons (3,200,000 tkm x 100 g/tkm). Keeping in mind that those DVDs are also returned to the same facility we need to double that result to 640 tons of CO2 emissions. If Netflix wanted to offset this amount, which I hope they will, they could do it for around $4500 with DriveNeutral or $8448 with Native Energy.
Source: How DVD-by-Mail is Helping the Environment
Originally published on Tue, 27 Feb 2007 18:18:01 GMT by mikek
There were two things not taken into account in his the calculations by AskPablo, or at least two points not in the original post.
1) The assumption was that most people are within 1 shipping day of a NetFlix center. That maybe true, however at least half of my movies no longer come from my nearest shipping center. Still a lot better environmentally than even the 3 DVDs/trip number listed in the original post, but the numbers above should be bumped up to account for that. Also there is an assumption that every time you went to a video store you actually got movies and did not walk away empty handed.
2) Exactly how big of a store would you need to store the 60,000+ videos that NetFlix has? I have no idea how many titles my local Blockbuster has, but I would say 10,000 would be at the very high end. Probably more like 5,000, and maybe even less sense the games are taking over more and more of the "favorites" (AKA old movies) section of the store. From my experience, few people rent videos multiple times - it is either once or the DVD is purchased. Even when people re-rent a DVD, it is many times because there is nothing else in of interest (see the end of #1). With dwindling demand for older titles the stores and either a) shrink in size or b) carry more of what the customers will use, minimizing fruitless trips (again, see point #1).
I don't see video stores going away any time soon, but this makes a good point.