Your Emails Are Damaging the Environment

Stop! Don’t send that email. Don’t offer thanks or send a jokey message. If you do, you will add to your carbon footprint. Be rude, say nothing – and save the planet, writes The Guardian.

Sending email has such a high carbon footprint that just cutting out a single email a day — such as ones that simply say “LOL” or a thank you — could have the same effect as removing thousands of cars from the street, according to a new study of habits in the UK, New York Post writes.

The study, commissioned by OVO Energy, England’s leading energy supply company, used the UK as a case study and found that one less “thank you” email a day would cut 16,433 tons of carbon caused by the high-energy servers used to send the online messages.

That’s the equivalent of 81,152 flights to Madrid or taking 3,334 diesel cars off the road, the research said.

According to the research, more than 64 million “unnecessary emails” are sent every day in the UK, contributing to 23,475 tons of carbon a year to its footprint.

The top 10 most “unnecessary” emails include: “Thank you,” “Thanks,” “Have a good weekend,” “Received,” “Appreciated,” “Have a good evening,” “Did you get/see this,” “Cheers,” “You too,” and “LOL,” according to the study.

OVO Energy is now calling for tech-savvy folks to “think before you thank” in order to save more than 16,433 tons of carbon per year.

The research revealed that 71 percent of Brits wouldn’t mind not receiving a “thank you” email “if they knew it was for the benefit of the environment and helping to combat the climate crisis.”

A total of 87 percent of the UK “would be happy to reduce their email traffic to help support the same cause,” according to the study.

One of the researchers, Mike Berners-Lee, a professor at Lancaster University in Lancashire, England, and author of How Bad are Bananas; The Carbon Footprint of Everything, said in a statement: “Whilst the carbon footprint of an email isn’t huge, it’s a great illustration of the broader principle that cutting the waste out of our lives is good for our wellbeing and good for the environment.”

“Every time we take a small step towards changing our behavior, be that sending fewer emails or carrying a reusable coffee cup, we need to treat it as a reminder to ourselves and others that we care even more about the really big carbon decisions,” Berners-Lee said.

How can one little email destroy the planet, The Guardian asks Mike Berners-Lee:

“When you are typing, your computer is using electricity,” he says. “When you press send it goes through the network, and it takes electricity to run the network. And it’s going to end up being stored on the cloud somewhere, and those data centres use a lot of electricity. We don’t think about it because we can’t see the smoke coming out of our computers, but the carbon footprint of IT is huge and growing.”

Berners-Lee admits the numbers are “crude estimates”, but says they are a useful way of making a general point. “When we take a small action to cut carbon,” he says, “it’s a message to yourself that you care about the climate emergency.”

About Catherine Smith

Catherine Smith is a newcomer to Washington D.C. She met, and married an American journalist and moved to D.C from the U.K. She graduated with a B.A in Graphic, Media and Communications and worked in design and retail in the U.K.

Photo: Getty Images

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