How many useless emails do you have in your inbox?
Yes, I’m referring to the emails we all know: “Got it, thanks!” “Confirming receipt.” “Nice to e-meet you.” And of course, we’re also considering the more mundane emails from all the subscription programs we’ve accumulated through the years.
In case you haven’t heard — these emails are bad for the environment. Hard to believe? Energy company OVO did the math in a study they conducted in 2019: “If every Brit sent one less thank you email a day, we would save 16,433 tonnes of carbon a year — the same as 81,152 flights to Madrid or taking 3,334 diesel cars off the road.”
How exactly are emails bad for the environment?
Everything we do affects the environment. Most of us have heard of how greatly our physical movements contribute to carbon emissions; but more than that, even our online traffic has grave effects.
When we use the Internet to store data, we actually contribute to the electricity consumption of huge data centres. These data centres burn through massive amounts of non-renewable energy; therefore, they cause greenhouse gas emissions that are bad for the environment.
In his book How Bad are Bananas?: The Carbon Footprint of Everything, Mike Berners-Lee reveals that a typical person uses about 135kg of carbon footprint per year because of emails. To put things in perspective, an average Filipino produces around 1107kg of carbon footprint annually.
Considering these, emails alone might be responsible for 12% of your annual carbon emission. All of these are rough estimates, of course; but the numbers we’re seeing now are pretty alarming for something so seemingly insignificant.
In the grand scheme of things, should we really care about useless emails?
Compared to everything else harming the environment, sending and receiving emails may be one of the least problematic things we can do. But as zero-waste figure Anne-Marie Bonneau once said, “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”
Deleting emails and unsubscribing from programs we don’t need may be as trivial as refusing straws or plastic bags. But these take us a step closer to saving the environment, at least. And when we all do these together, we’ll better understand the impact of our choices.
With all these said, it’s time for us to empty our Spam folders, unsubscribe from irrelevant programs, and delete useless emails. It’s the least we can do for the environment.
Featured image credit: fizkes via Canva Pro.