How many emails do you send are unnecessary? Think of those emails that are simple one word replies like “thank you” or “noted” or even a simple “😊” emoji. When you think about this you may realise that you do this more often than you think.
Unactionable one or two word pleasantries such as ‘thank you’ and ‘thanks’ top the list of the most regularly sent unnecessary emails.
Top 10 Most ‘unnecessary’ emails sent:
1- Thanks You
3-Have a good weekend
6-Have a good evening
7-Did you get/see this?
It is not just emails, as that is somewhat old school now, because this unnecessary communication has been amplified by communications platforms like WhatsApp and Wechat. The use of these communication apps to have simple conversations is extremely convenient but the impact of this on the environment is massive.
As an attempt to try and explain this, when you are typing a message on email or Whatsapp, your computer or phone is consuming electricity or battery power. When you hit send, the message goes over an internet that uses electricity to power itself. Then your message is stored somewhere in a data centre or multiple data centres which all consume massive amounts of electricity to run. The carbon footprint of this process is ever increasing.
You may not think about it but in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, internet use accounts for 3.7% of global emissions, i.e. the equivalent of all air traffic in the world. And this figure is expected to double by 2025.
Whether the message is a simple email (no attachment) or a WhatsApp or an SMS the carbon footprint is similar. Depending on the figures you look at somewhere between 0.4g and 4g of carbon dioxide emissions are released as a result of sending messages.
When you then start to think about the number of messages that you send on a daily basis that are simple thankyou’s or noted or some sort of emoji to let the other person know you have received the message, you can start to see the overall impact this unnecessary process is having on the environment.
If we conservatively assume that each internet user on the planet sends only one unnecessary (unactionable) email or message a day, that would be 4 billion messages a day (there are about that number of email users at the end of 2020) which equates to 4,000 tonnes of carbon emissions A DAY. Over the course of a year that would be 1.46 million tonnes. That is similar to the total annual carbon emissions of a country like Barbados.
Ways to reduce your messaging carbon footprint:-
- Use your email in a rational manner. Before replying to a messages think if it is really required.
- Eliminate from your 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. Choose a simple and minimalist one.
- Empty the trash file in your email and cancel any subscriptions 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.
If you remember back in the 90’s and 2000’s, we used to get emails which said “save the environment don’t print this email unnecessarily” at the bottom. I think things have changed since then and now the footer should read “be responsible, don’t reply to this email unnecessarily”. I am going to add that to my footer which no doubt will increase the carbon footprint of ever email I send but hopefully every reduction in emails or messages sent globally will help.
It has not gone unnoticed by me the irony that in-order to produce this blog I have consumed a lot of electricity in research and reading online but I cant see any other way.
If you like this blog please DON’T like it or forward it or share it. Just read it and take action.