The carbon footprint of an email

It might not seem like it would take much energy to send an email but there is quite a lot going on behind the scenes. We’re not just talking about how much energy it takes to send an email. We’re also considering how much carbon dioxide (CO2) is released into the atmosphere as a result. So how do we reduce the impact our emails are having on climate change?

how does carbon footprint relate to email?

A carbon footprint is a measure of the greenhouse gas emissions (including CO2) caused by an individual, event or organisation. The carbon footprint of an email depends on how much electricity was consumed during each step involved in delivering your message to your audience: from the time the email was sent until it reached its intended recipient.

What is the carbon footprint of an email?

The carbon footprint of an email can translate into a lot of greenhouse gas emissions when you consider how many emails are sent every day. According to MailChimp, five million emails are sent per day. Sending five million emails can generate carbon emissions of up to 1000 metric tonnes!

This is equivalent to:

  • driving a car 1000km
  • making almost 900kg of garbage that gets sent directly to landfill
  • using over a tonne of coal from an average power station

How to reduce the carbon footprint of an email

There are many ways you can reduce the carbon footprint of emails, both in terms of your own individual usage and that generated by your business or organisation.

1. Opt-out

Opt-out from receiving commercial emails by using unsubscribe links. This is one of the best ways to reduce the carbon footprint of emails.

2. Use cloud-based file sharing

Avoid sending large files, such as high resolution photos or videos that aren’t essential. If possible, use file sharing services like Dropbox or We Transfer instead.

3. Use a more environmentally friendly email service provider (ESP)

While not all ESPs offer carbon-neutral services, they generally provide tools to help companies measure their carbon footprints. This include energy saving initiatives such as powering down servers when they’re not in use or offsetting carbon through renewable energy projects.

Every step we take to reduce our carbon footprint, no matter how small, makes a difference to minimising carbon emissions and combating climate change.

In conclusion

It’s important that the carbon footprint generated by email isn’t ignored. It can all add up quickly when we’re collectively sending out millions of them every day. Luckily there are ways you can do to reduce this carbon footprint such as opting out, avoiding large files, reducing use of ESPs that are not offering carbon-neutral services or even offsetting emissions.

If you want to make more environmentally conscious choices about the marketing and technology you use, get in touch with our team today!