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The carbon footprint of an email

The carbon footprint of an email

I have stumbled across an article a few days ago stating that “sending even a short email is estimated to add about four grams (0.14 ounces) of CO2 equivalent (gCO2e) to the atmosphere. To put this into perspective, the carbon output of hitting “send” on 65 mails is on par with driving an average-sized car a kilometre (0.6 of a mile). […] when you send an email with a large attachment, [it] puts about 50 gCO2e into the air.”


Who would have even considered that? Not me! Yes this isn’t the biggest impact we could have when it comes to emissions but every little helps right? And these things do add up. I am not saying stop sending emails because that is not feasible – especially at work. However, here are a few easy things you can do:

  1. Clear out your emails – permanently delete any emails you will never read again. This will free up some server space somewhere.
  2. As stated above don’t just delete an email you won’t need in the future but permanently delete it, otherwise it will just start wasting away in your deleted folder. To do this mark the email(s) and hit SHIFT+Delete.
  3. Unsubscribe from any unwanted mailing lists. On average I receive about 5-10 emails a day to my personal email account that are promotions that I will not even read but straight out delete. I started making an effort to unsubscribe from all these lists. Bonus point, it will save me some time in the future.
  4. And if you manage a mailing list yourself, keep it tidy.
  5. Link to files or information online rather than adding an attachment if possible and generally think twice about the content you attach to an email.

And that’s it, as I said every little helps – this is an easy way to improve your carbon footprint and it doesn’t take much effort on your part.


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