The environmental (un)sustainability of emails

März 07, 2017

The environmental (un)sustainability of emails

Our mailboxes are always full of messages. We receive, on average, 20 emails a day, about 100 emails a week. This is true only for private user because when we talk about companies all data increase. Very few are the ones we are interested in, too many of them are not even read and it’s mainly spam.

Not only stress: the environmental impact of e-mails

Too many e-mails cause stress and have a negative impact on our physical wellbeing but that’s not all! Maybe you didn’t know that sending too many e-mails is highly polluting. When we send an email, this one is copied about ten more times from other computer components that transmit all the information to the final recipient. This process requires a lot of energy and each step leaves an environmental trace.
Let us give a concrete example: a company with 100 employees each of which send 33 daily emails produces 13,6 tons of C02 and pollute such as 13 New York -Paris return journeys. Ademe (The French Environment and Energy Management Agency) calls into question the environmental sustainability of emails and web marketing.

According to this study:

 • 8 emails pollute such as 1 km travelled with a car (producing the same quantity of emissions)
• A lonely megabyte mail produces 19g of C02
• One mail consume the same energy of a lamp burned for 2 hours


Moreover, according to the study of McAfee, an informational technology company, annual spam messages pollute such as 3 millions of cars (7,5 billion gallons of gasoline)

 However, we don’t want to report incorrect information. Emails unlike cars don’t produce fine dust and they improved a lot our way of working reducing the number of calls, journeys and reducing the use of paper decreasing the environmental impact. Returning to pen and paper is not the right solution! Anyway there are some tips that you could follow to improve the environmental performance of emails:

 • Reduce the size of attachments and pictures (If your email is too big, it requires more energy)
• Don’t include too many recipients, above all if they are unnecessary for your communication ( Too many recipients mean a lot of server actions that requires more energy)
• Unsubscribe from newsletter you are not interested in
• Write exhaustive e-mails in order to prevent an excessive exchange of messages

Our planet is sending us an important message: don’t throw it in the trash!