How to cut down your email pollution

It is estimated that a typical year of incoming emails adds 136kg of emissions to a person’s carbon footprint, or the equivalent of driving 200 miles in an average car. This is largely because the infrastructure behind every message, which includes the electricity usage and the energy to store and transmit emails through data centres, is huge as the data centres need to be air conditioned and kept very cool to avoid them overheating.

While using email means we are less reliant on paper, which is obviously good for the environment, there are a few tips and tricks you can use to manage your emails more efficiently and reduce your email pollution. We’ve listed a few below.

Avoid sending unnecessary emails

It may seem obvious, but wherever possible avoid sending unnecessary emails in the first place. If something could be confirmed with a co-worker via a conversation in the office, this will help save energy. Using office tools such as Slack, Teams, and Basecamp is also a good alternative to sending an email as these tend to consume less energy.

Streamline your emails

Where possible, it is also a good idea to think about the volume of email recipients who receive any given message. Having lots of unnecessary people on an email chain increases the chance that the message is not read and sits in storage, thus consuming more energy.

OVO has created a tool which will notify you if it thinks your email is not needed, prompting you to be more thoughtful with what you send. The “Carbon Capper” Chrome extension looks at word count and notifies you if you try to send anything under four words.

It is also important to double check your email before sending it to the desired recipient to make sure you’ve attached any files you need to send in order to avoid having to reply again with the attachment. What’s more, when you have to send a large file, choose a file hosting service that uses a download link on a website—such as WeTransfer, Google Drive or OneDrive. This prevents the file from being stored on multiple servers. If you use a link it will only be stored on the server that hosts it.

Develop good email habits

Downloading an anti-spam tool and regularly emptying your recycle bin and spam folder, will also help you reduce your email pollution. Many email hosts, such as Gmail, also now offer you the ability to unsubscribe from newsletters and other emails from companies you don’t read but you can also use the website Cleanfox to delete and unsubscribe from newsletters in one click.

Finally, it is recommended (although not always practical) to assign a couple of time slots a day to read and reply to any emails, especially on your personal account. Not only is this beneficial for the planet, but it may also make you more efficient as your work will have fewer interruptions. Studies have shown it takes 64 seconds to re-focus on the task you were completing before you opened the email, once you’ve gone about reading it.

Will you be implementing any of these tips to help cut down on your email pollution? Let us know in the comments below, and if you’re interested in other ways you can become more eco-friendly why not check out these blogs too?