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26th March 2021

Save the planet, send fewer emails

Amelia Cummins outlines the surprising effects sending emails has on energy use
Save the planet, send fewer emails
Photo: Mohamed Hassan @ Pxhere

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Look familiar? This is the email-inbox reality of university students across Manchester. Distracting? Yes. Annoying? Absolutely! But harmful? Surely not!

Sending and receiving unnecessary emails, which more than likely will never be read, feels like a victimless crime. Whether it be signing up to a company’s newsletter or circulating a survey to hundreds of your “nearest and dearest”, it’s something we all blindly do.

However, recent research suggests surplus emails are surprisingly harmful to the planet and contribute to increasing greenhouse gas emissions. So maybe it’s not victimless after all. 

Thank you? No, thank you!

In November 2019, OVO Energy published a report which stated that people in Britain send 64 million non-essential emails every day. And the worst offender? Courteous, one-line thank you emails, 49% of which are sent to people within close proximity. 

According to the study, one email equates to 0.000001 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. So, if every adult in Britain sent one less email every day for a year, it would save 16,433 tonnes of carbon emissions. This is equivalent to 81,152 flight journeys to Madrid! 

As a result of this study, OVO Energy has started the ‘Think Before You Thank’ campaign. The aim of which is to encourage the British public to pause, and think about whether the email they’re sending is truly necessary. The ultimate goal is to use email-restraint to lower carbon emissions. Environment over courtesy, if you ask me.

16,433 tonnes! Why bother?

At first glance, 16,433 tonnes of carbon may seem like a lot. However, when you compare it to the 435.3 million tonnes of greenhouse gases Britain released in 2019 alone, it comes out to a mere 0.0037%. It barely scratches the surface.

There is a wide array of things we could all be doing, which could have a far greater impact, like holding companies and governments accountable for their emissions. But if we’re already walking instead of driving, reusing instead of discarding, why not also send one less email a day?

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