The Carbon Footprint Behind Emails

Did you that the emails we send every day, confirming we received a message or even saying thank you, generate tonnes of greenhouse gases?.

The Woman Post | Catalina Mejía

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Well, they do and therefore it is in our hands to stop sending messages that are uavoidable or repetitive in order to reduce our carbon footprint. 

The Company Ovo performed an investigation in the UK to analyse the impact of the 64 million unnecessary emails that are sent on a daily basis on the UK.A spam email can produce 0.3g of carbon dioxide, while a regular email can produce 4g and an email with a photo can produce up to 50g.  On their study, the Ovo Company found that for every adult in the UK sending one less thank you email, 16,433 tonnes of carbon a year could be saved, which is equal to removing 3,334 diesel cars from the road. The numbers do not seem so large by themselves, but the story changes if we bear in mind that estimates from the antispam service Cleanfox, report that on average, people receive up to2850 unwanted emails per year from mailing suscriptions, which account for 28.5kg of carbon dioxide emissions. 

Now, if we were to make the most rational decision when trying to keep in touch, it is worth noting that SMS text messages are definitely the best option. Each text message generates  0.14g of carbon dioxide, which is even less than a tweet which accounts for for 0.2g of carbon dioxide emissions. On the other hand, messaging on Facebook or Whatsapp is almost as carbon intensive as by email. A report from the year 2017 from Two Sides Consulting found that the emailing activity worldwide could be equivalent to the carbon footprint produced by 890 million cars. However, the carbon footprint of emails depends on the content of the message. For instance if an email contains an attachment of 1MB, the carbon dioxide emission can be approximately 19g and if that attachment is forwarded or saved, it can rise up to 50g, as stated by The Independent. 


The encouraging news is that eliminating 30 emails from our inbox, can save up to 222W, which is equivalent to the energy consumed by an average light bulb that we leave on  for a day. Let’s look at simple suggestions to use our emails in a more sustainable manner:

-Use your email in a rational manner. Before forwarding messages think if it is really required.

-Eliminate from yout inbox the emails that you don’t need. Emails that we leave in our inboxes also affect the environment. It is also important to delete messages in the trash file of emails.

-Choose your email signature wisely. Images, or heavy logos are not environmentally friendly when speaking about emails. Choose a simple and minimalist one.

-Empty the trash file in your email and cancel any suscriptions from mailing lists that you don’t need. It is also crucial to periodically empty the spam file on our inbox to reduce our carbon footprint.

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