The Carbon Footprint of Unwanted Emails

A Drop in the Ocean Tacoma Zero Waste Sustainable Living Blog Carbon Footprint of Unwanted Email
Listen to the audio of this post here:

his post first appeared in our weekly Make Waves Mondays email series on January 25, 2021.

Hello hello, EcoWarriors!

We’re starting a new mini-series of blog posts!

Say hello to Small Change Big Impact.

The core of everything we believe here at A Drop in the Ocean is that small changes add up to massive impacts for the planet. But most of the time, sustainability isn’t as black-and-white as we want it to be. And I hope that this blog demonstrates that while the answers aren’t always simple, there are things that each of us can do - what we can, when we can, where we can. But sometimes we just want those quick wins, amiright?

The goal of the Small Change Big Impact monthly series is to highlight one small change [without complexity] that can have a big impact without much thought.

First up in our series…

Unsubscribe from unwanted emails.

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We’re BOMBARDED with emails, all day every day. And how many of them do we actually read? How many of them do we actually value? How many of them do we look forward to receiving? How much time do we spend deleting emails each week?

It all adds up.

Did you know... 

...the average spam email produces 0.3g of carbon dioxide?
...a regular email produces 4g of carbon dioxide? . email with a long attachment you have to read produces 50g of carbon dioxide?

For the typical email user, one year of email produces about 135kg of carbon dioxide.

That’s about the equivalent of driving 200 miles in an average car.

If we’re just talking about spam email, the actual footprint of sending the spam email is very small. A whopping 80% of the consumed energy from spam comes from reading, deleting, and searching through spam folders.

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When we’re talking about emails in general, that’s where the real carbon problem comes from. Think those emails we CC our coworker on just in case they mayyyy need the info sometime down the line. Those copies add up!

While the footprint of an email is 1/60th that of a written letter, how many of us send an average of 60+ more emails than we would send letters in the same time frame? 🙋‍♀️🙋‍♀️🙋‍♀️🙋‍♀️🙋‍♀️🙋‍♀️🙋‍♀️

So, this week, notice those emails.

If you’re subscribed to a bunch of email lists, notice which ones you delete immediately. Instead of pressing the delete button first, open the email and click the Unsubscribe button at the bottom. Think of how much time and energy you’ll save by never dealing with them again!

Plus, if you’re subscribed to email lists that only send you promotions, how much money will you save by not being tempted to buy??

Because we have to remember that waste comes in many forms.

Wasted time.
Wasted energy.
Wasted resources.

And if you find yourself CCing your coworkers on emails, ask yourself if they really need to be. Is that CC worth an extra 4g of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere?

Let’s make this even more fun, shall we?

Keep a tally of how many emails you unsubscribed from, and at the end of the week, let’s share our tallies in the EcoWarrior Pod Facebook group. Because while our individual actions matter, sometimes it’s way more impactful to see our collective impact 💙


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