Sustainability and our Media

Sustainability and our Media

I am sure everyone knows that we need to do our bit for the planet, with sustainable practices. So it got me thinking what is the impact of media? Whether it is our music or movies. What can we do to lessen the burden this can cause on our planet?

Sustainability Definition

Firstly, we need to understand what is meant by sustainability and how it applies to media.

The Oxford dictionary defines sustainable as “avoidance of the depletion of natural resources to maintain an ecological balance.”

How does this relate to your cassettes and CD’s you might wonder? Well, whether it is streaming or physical media there is always an environmental impact. In one way or another, resources get used.

The Impact of Streaming

For many of us streaming music and videos has been the easiest way to enjoy them whilst moving in and out of the various stages of lockdown. Back in the day, if you did not have the physical copy you wouldn’t get to enjoy it the way we can now.

So it is understandable how many people would think that by taking away the physical aspect – there would be way fewer carbon emissions and therefore more sustainable right?

Well, that is only partially true.

Yes, there is a lack of plastic when streaming music and films but, it still has an environmental impact.

To download or access these files for streaming purposes, they need to be stored on active and cooled servers. That and even getting from these servers to our devices uses energy, and for most of us, that is energy that is not renewable, and it is a constant process.

The Impact of Physical Media

Did you know? It’s estimated that it will take over 1 million years for a CD to completely decompose in a landfill.

It may sound crazy but, it is the truth behind the plastic of CDs and DVDs, and their cases.

Some people would argue that this one time print and packaging process has a less overall negative impact. Compared to the continuous servers used for streaming.

Do you think that is the case? Especially with new and evolving innovations. Such as vegetable inks for packaging, removal of shrinkwrap and stepping away from jewel case packaging for less hardwearing but more sustainable to card.

How can I Lessen my Environmental Impact?

There are two main ways in which we can all change our habits to work towards better environmental impact when it comes to our media habits. The first is how we handle our old and loved media.

Donate It

You may be able to donate your old media to a charity shop. Helping avoid it going to landfill and giving it a new lease on life with someone else.

This point is more the case for CDs and DVD as video and audio tapes have decreased in value and could end up in the bin, at the expense of the charity.

Can You Sell it?

It is always worthwhile checking the price of your old media on sites such as eBay. Check whether other people would like to take it off your hands and relive their favourite childhood movies or classic songs.

Check out this Buzzfuse article about the most valuable VHS Tapes and see if there are any hidden gems in your collection!

Artful Afternoon

Why not take inspiration from American artist Gerardo Saenz and mix paint and cassette tapes to make a colourful display for your home? Show off your love of colour and music in one fell sweep.

The second option is to look for greener practice when choosing new media.

Offsetting Carbon Emissions

For this option, it is a good idea to calculate your carbon emissions. Figure out ways in which you can reduce them. Then try to combat your emissions with green practices. Whether it is just taking more care when recycling. Or planting a few trees in your area, there are plenty of small changes we can all do.

Investing in Green Vinyl

The vinyl making process is pretty dated and has not changed much over the years but what has changed is the introduction of greener plastics now used by some companies. (If you have ever wondered how vinyl records get made we have a blog post for that!)

There has even been a record made from ocean plastics! In the Anthropocene, Ocean Vinyl – was made from plastic washed up onto Cornish beaches.

It may take a while longer for it to become a best practice, but at least steps are being made to make this beloved music format a tad more environmentally friendly.


I am sure there are plenty more ways to make your watching or listening experiences greener so if you have the time head over to our social pages and let us know your suggestions!

More from Happy Ireland

If you enjoyed this blog, click here to view more from us! With Happy Ireland Productions, you can preserve your memories to last forever. Visit one of our partners to drop off your assortment of tapes, film, pictures and audio keepsakes. You’ll receive your DVD or digital copy with the original. Simple and Safe! Your memories are priceless so why risk losing them. Learn more about Happy Ireland Productions or Contact us for any inquiries