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Audio streaming

The modern environmental cost of music can be divided into four eras’: the Vinyl era in the seventies, the Cassette era in the eighties, the CD era in the nineties, and the online music era in which we find ourselves today. Although the amount of time per day we listen to audio has not really changed, the impacts on the planet have. Massively.

CO2 Impact Calculator

Every 20 people streaming music or listening podcasts for on average 4 hours per day need to plant a tree per year to compensate for their streaming behavior. This might sound like little, but if you imagine how many millions of people stream music and podcasts every single day, the numbers add up very quickly. In the Netherlands, over 6 million people have an audio streaming subscription. In Europe, this is over 70 million people. Globally, nearly 500 million people stream audio through their service subscriptions. For this calculator, we only use information from subscribed users of audio streaming. You can imagine the actual total impact is even higher if also the non-subscribed users would be included.


Do you want to embrace a greener digital lifestyle? Below we provide some tips. If you select one or multiple, it is stored locally. This is better for both CO2 emissions as it is for your privacy. By selecting a tip, it is added to your own battleplan, where you can always return to in the Take Action section.

  • Go offline

    download your favorite songs / albums / podcasts onto your phone and play from there.

    Add to Take Action list:

  • Lower audio streaming quality

    Streaming on medium quality cuts data use by 40% and you probably won’t even notice the difference.

    Add to Take Action list:

  • Don’t use video while listening to music

    Whether it is a background clip on Spotify or a YouTube clip, when you are interested in the music or the talking, streaming without video will cut your emissions by 25%.

    Add to Take Action list:

Did you know?

Did you know the environmental cost of music is now greater than at any time during recorded music’s history?

The environmental costs of audio can be divided into plastics used and CO2 emissions emitted. In terms of plastics, the transition to streaming and downloading around and after 2013 was a good thing compared to the era’s of vinyl and CDs. Actually, the total amount of plastics used to produce music carriers came down from 61 million kg per year in 2013 to 8 million kg per year.

However, in terms of CO2 emissions, the trend is the opposite, and stronger, as the CO2 emission impact per year having risen from 157 million kg in the CD era to nearing 500 million kg in the streaming age today and still rising fast.

To realize just how much this is, let’s look at an example. In 2021, the music clip Baby Shark Dance reached 9 billion streams, being the first single song to be streamed over 9 billion times. This does not only make it a very popular song, it also means that just this song alone is single handedly responsible for emitting more CO2 than the annual emissions of an entire country such as Croatia or Slovakia.

Globally, we spend on average per day 1 hour and 31 minutes listening to music streams.