How Green Are Your Email Habits?

5 Sep 2022 • 3 minute read

You may have realised that in 2022 Carbon Footprint is everything. There isn’t a week that goes by without us hearing about carbon emissions and their effect. But do you know much carbon the internet produces? Neither did we!

It might surprise you (it did us) that each small action we make on the internet emits carbon dioxide. This is due to the energy needed to run your devices and your internet access (typically your Wifi router and booster devices).

Perhaps less obvious are the carbon emissions emitted by the data storage facilities and vast servers needed to keep the internet alive. Google emitted 10,326,109 tons of carbon in 2020 (around 3,500,000 in servers and data storage facilities). This not only covers the power to run them but also to keep them at an optimum temperature.

How much carbon is produced by an email?

We recently received an email from Statista on the carbon footprint of a ‘thank you’ email, handily explained in this image. It also outlines the impact if we all sent one less email per day.

Carbon footprint of emails.jpg

Anyone who knows us at Green Gift Cards will know that we are fans of the Mike Berners-Lee book ‘How bad are bananas?’ His 2020 rerelease of his famous book now covers the attribution of emissions.

Fast forward to today, and over 58.4% of the world’s population uses the internet. As you can imagine, the accumulated carbon emitted from unnecessary spam emails quickly adds ups. According to Berners-Lee, a typical business creates 135kg of CO2 emissions in emails a year.

Similar research by Ovo, the eco-energy company, outlines that if every Brit sends one less thank you email a day, we would save 16,433 tons a year in carbon. That is equivalent to 81,152 flights from London to Madrid.

How can you make your email habits greener?

Well, that’s easy, kind of... The idea is to send and receive fewer emails (yes, please!)

  • Stop saying thank you.

Maybe don’t stop saying thank you; instead, think about how you do it! You could be cutthroat; simply stop sending thank you messages but sleep soundly because you are saving the planet. Perhaps it becomes part of your company culture that you agree to stop sending pointless emails (including thank you ones!) and take it as a given that you are grateful your colleague has done what is expected of them. If they’ve really gone above and beyond, seek them out to say thanks.

Do you joke about how meetings could have been an email? Sometimes your email doesn’t need to be an email! How about sending a direct message? SMS texts might seem outdated, but they are one of the most environmentally friendly ways to contact someone. Each text produces 0.014g of CO2emissions. Ask yourself the question, do you need to send this email just to say thank you?

  • Stop adding attachments

The average email with an attachment produces 50g of carbon. Try adding a link instead of an attachment. Documents and images can be added to a shared server such as Google Drive, One Drive or Box.

Or you can reduce the size of your attachments. Watch out for image-heavy documents and compress the picture size, or save the document as a pdf, which typically reduces the file size.

  • Unsubscribe

Not only do spam emails block up your inbox up they also create unnecessary carbon by receiving and storing them. Unsubscribe from unnecessary sales emails. Are you really interested in the latest travel agent sale (they always have a sale!)? Or that special offer local email that you never buy from? Many of us in the Green Gift Card team have unsubscribed (or mass blocked) all the unnecessary sales emails received. Not only are our inboxes less cluttered, but we are not producing excessive carbon dioxide.

Individually our actions might feel insignificant, but together they can make significant changes.

To help lower your business carbon footprint check out our Eco-friendly green gift, membership, and ID cards. We are here to build a better future. Contact us for more information.



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