Earth’s temperature is increasing rapidly as a result of emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gasses produced by human activities and the effects can be already seen in the environment: both the North and South poles have been melting down to the point of almost disappearing in the last decades and now, we can even see flowers in Antarctica, where there was ice before; and an increase in the ocean water level, a threat for coastlines around the world shortly.
There are also intense heat waves even in cities that used to be cold, along with other effects such as droughts and wildfires, which are risking the ecosystem for several plants and animal species, some of them in danger of extinction.
All these events are occurring faster than scientists have predicted and despite the fact that they cannot be reverted, as human beings and inhabitants of this planet - the one and only home we have - there are many things that we can do to help: eat less meat and dairy, cut consumption of things such as fast fashion, try to minimize waste, moderate use of flights, cut down on car usage, reduce your energy use, recycle, respect and protect green spaces and even …. delete emails!
Do emails have something to do with climate change? Yes, despite the fact that emails no longer contribute to paper pollution, the tons of emails generated daily need to be stored in servers that consume loads of electricity, which still needs to be generated by fossil fuels, leading to carbon dioxide emissions (CO2e).
According to Eco2 Greetings, text-based emails may generate approximately 4 grams of carbon dioxide equivalent. They also calculate that an average office worker sends and receives around 140 emails which leads to 136 kilograms of CO2e in a year or the equivalent of driving 322 kilometers in a gas-powered car.
However, we can all improve our carbon footprint by implementing small changes into our daily routines:
Avoid sending that email: Have you considered going and talking to the person you need to talk to?
Make sure to send emails only to the people who need to read them.
Avoid attachments and hyperlink files or information held online. An email with attachments releases 50g of CO2 against 4g for one without.
Check your emails thoroughly before sending them to ensure they contain all the necessary and correct information to avoid the need for follow-up emails.
Regularly clean and maintain mailing lists. Remove any contacts that unsubscribe and update changes to the email address immediately.
Delete your spam.
Create rules and keep your emails organized into folders to ease deleting old/irrelevant emails.
Unsubscribe from newsletters you don’t intend to read.
In conclusion, can avoiding sending emails or deleting them actually save the earth? Yes, it can. We can really help the Earth breathe by simply putting into practice the suggestions above. It’s definitely worth it and there is no better day for deleting emails than today.
- The Carbon Footprint of Email vs Postal Mail - Eco2 Greetings