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Your Messy Inbox is Killing Planet Earth

Emails have gone so mainstream that every click by us in the digital world is acknowledged with an auto-generated email. For example, a simple transaction on PayPal would send you email as well as notification. All notifications on Facebook/LinkedIn are duplicated and sent to you in form of email. If you use your credit card, you’d get an SMS plus email (probably even a push notification). If we sign up anywhere, the website says that we have successfully signed up yet we get a confirmatory email. Why is it that the same information is duplicated every now and then?

Email has become a standard way of communication. And most of us do not even bother opening such emails. They just stay unattended in our inbox forever…

Now let’s join the dots between emails and planet earth

Emails need a place to rest, known as “storage”. This “storage” in turn rests on servers or data centres. These data centres require hell lot of energy to run. WHY? Because servers are just like computers and they need electricity to run. Also, they get hot when run for a long time. So the heat generated has to be taken care of which brings in concept of air-conditioning. Therefore, large vent systems are required to manage the environment of data centres.

FACT 1: In 2014, data centres in the U.S. consumed about 70 billion kWh or circa 1.8% of total U.S. electricity consumption.

This is a very sizeable figure, and this is when we just talk about emails. So many of us are still unaware the environmental consequences of emails. We never thought about it, did we? We only thought material things like cars are killing the planet. But NO! Immaterial things which need energy to keep running are killing the planet too.

Here’s a puzzler: Any idea how many emails inundate the internet every day?

Answer: About 2.4 million emails per second.

Want to know how much carbon is emitted per email?

Emails can be of different types which emit carbon at varying levels. Following is a list of different types of emails:

> Regular/ordinary email with no attachment

> Regular/ordinary email with attachments

> Forwarded emails with no attachments

> Forwarded emails with attachments


(If I am missing out on any type, please mention in the comments below. Thank you very much in advance.)

FACT 2: Calculating amount of carbon

Lowest amount of carbon emitted by a single email = 0.3 g

Highest amount of carbon emitted by a single email = 50 g (!!!!)

If we multiply this by the rate of 2.4 million/sec,

Amount of carbon emitted per second would lie between 720,000 grams and 120,000,000 grams. The real answer definitely lies in this range.

FACT 3: The average greenhouse gas emission associated with a single spam message is 0.3 grams of CO2. That’s like driving three feet (1 meter), but when multiplied by the annual volume of spam, it’s like driving around the Earth 1.6 million times.

If you wish to read more facts like these, check out this research carried out by McAfee. It’s hella stupendous!

FACT 4: Storing 1GB of email consumes about 32 kWh per year. If every single person in France deleted just 50 emails, the energy savings would be equivalent to turning the Eiffel tower’s lights off for 42 years, or to New York City not consuming any electricity for 4 hours.

I am not going to spam you with more facts, sorry.

Steps we can take to reduce carbon emission

  1. Please try to take out time every once in a while to declutter your mailbox. Delete the emails you don’t need. Pay more attention to those with bulky attachments.
  2. Empty the Spam folder regularly.
  3. Unsubscribe to those newsletters you know you’re never going to read.
  4. If you receive duplicate notification from social media like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook then opt out of getting those mails.
  5. Do not send emails unnecessarily.

(If you can think of more steps, please write in the comments below. Thank you.)

Hope you will now unsubscribe yourself from emails you never read. It would be a great start!✌🏻

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