Our friends over at Earth2Tech will probably appreciate this: Getting your DVDs delivered to you by mail (like through Netflix) is most likely a greener option for getting your movies than going to the video store in person.
Slate spin-off site The Big Money breaks it all down, noting, among other things, that Netflix DVDs are part of much larger deliveries that are already coming to you. The post also takes into account things like the reduced packaging from not using plastic lockable containers and the amount of energy it takes to get to the store. From The Big Money post:
Indeed, according to a study recently published in the Journal of Industrial Ecology, even just a two-mile drive to the video store will consume a few hundred times more energy than the Netflix delivery from a distribution center 200 miles away. The authors run through calculations for a consumer in Ann Arbor, Mich., and conclude that renting three DVDs online consumes about 33 percent less energy and emits 40 percent less CO2 than picking up those same movies at the traditional video store.
The article does not touch on Netflix’s new streaming service and the energy associated with storing and transmitting all of that data (nor, as my colleague Stacey pointed out, how much energy that giant plasma TV sucks up while watching movies). We’ll follow up with some people in the know on that topic after the holidays to provide an update.