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It's actually hard
to tell which is more important to end-users - the convenience of downloading
their purchased software to get it quickly, or the fact that it's greener to
get software that way. In a recent survey we did on this, the majority of our
respondents who had already chosen to download software they got from TechSoup
said that they did it to get the software more quickly. A number of
respondents, however, reported that they did it to be greener.
It very much
reminded me of the Forevergeek.com article: Downloading
software: being green or just more convenient? which cites some
UK-based statistics that find that if the 16 million units of software sold in
2008 had been downloaded instead, there'd be enough electricity saved to power
12,000 households for a year.
my point of view, there really isn't much controversy there. Downloading the
software you get from TechSoup is both quicker and greener. In case it's the
environmental case for downloading that is more interesting to you, the big
study on that is called: Demonstrating
the Benefits of Electronic Software Distribution. It was completed
in October 2009 by Accenture and WSP Environment & Energy Consulting
and it explores the carbon reductions associated with Microsoft's transition
from physical to electronic media software distribution methods.
Here are some of the major findings from the study:
The study found
that Microsoft Volume Licensing customers can collectively reduce greenhouse
gas emissions equivalent to:
donor partner Intuit also made a concerted effort to switch from traditional
packaged software delivery to digital downloads in 2009. They estimate that
downloads produce approximately 8
times fewer emissions than packaged software.
In terms of hard costs, the company ended up reducing emissions from reduced
packaging by 20% and they reduced supply chain emissions by an additional 10%.
the greenest thing that TechSoup users can do is to download the software you
get from us if you have broadband Internet, then save it onto a network volume,
cloud storage, or an external hard drive for safe keeping or if you need to
reinstall the software. It's however not that much more of an environmental
impact if you prefer to store your downloaded software to DVD disc. CDs and
DVDs are made from mostly polycarbonate plastic, plus various lacquers and
aluminum. They are not terribly toxic, but are also difficult to recycle at the end
of their usable lives.
is a rapid trend among most software companies to move toward electronic delivery
rather than traditional boxed products to both save money for everyone
concerned and also go a bit easier on the environment.