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Emailing Intentionally: 3 ways to lower your carbon footprint by changing your emailing habits

Chances are, you are a part of the 90% of adults in the United States that uses email. In fact, you most likely send one of the 306.4 billion emails delivered daily. Emails have become a natural part of our daily routine, but have you ever taken the time to consider how each email you send may impact the environment? One email solely composed of text has a relatively small carbon footprint, but factors such as attachments, spam, and unnecessary messages can lead to a pretty significant increase in CO2 emissions. However, we can reduce our emission levels by emailing with intention. Here are three steps towards intentional emailing that are easy to implement daily.

Step number one: Send links, not media

Did you know that a single email including a large attachment releases about 50 g of CO2 into the atmosphere? The easiest way to reduce this digital carbon footprint is to simply use document links instead of email attachments. The switch from attachments to links can reduce CO2 emissions by an astonishing 92%, or from 50 g to 4 g of CO2! If you are interested in putting your emailing habits into perspective, feel free to check out this simple Email CO2 Calculator. It will take into account basic factors regarding how often you use your email and give you a rough estimate of how much CO2 you produce each year just from emails. It will also compare your carbon footprint to other activities, such as how much your carbon footprint equates to in terms of car mileage or plastic bag use.

Step number two: Reconsider your thank-you emails

According to studies done by OVO Energy, unactionable emails, such as “thank-you” emails, emit about .9 g of carbon each. While this may seem like a low number at first, consider how many thank-you emails you send in one week. OVO Energy reports that the average person sends out about 10 "unactionable emails" per week. Multiply this number by the entire population of email users, and we have quite a large problem. A large concern for not sending thank-you emails is the risk of coming across as “rude” or “unappreciative”. These, of course, are valid concerns, however, it is still possible to show gratitude sans email. The best solution will be to thank the recipient face-to-face if you have the opportunity to see them in person. Many thank-you emails are sent to coworkers, professors, or other people with whom you will soon meet. By saving your thank-you until you are able to see them in person, you will be able to lower your carbon footprint and be more expressive in showing your gratitude. OVO Energy has also introduced a browser extension, “Carbon Capper”, that will pop up every time you send a short email, prompting you to stop and think about if the message is necessary.

Step number three: Unsubscribe from spam emails

It is so easy to forget to opt-out of email lists the first time that you sign up for an online website. It is so easy, in fact, that your inbox may end up containing more promotional emails than informational ones. According to research done by Cleanfox, an anti-spam service, “the average user receives 2,850 unwanted emails every year from subscriptions”. This accounts for 28.5 kg, or 63 lbs, of carbon emissions annually! With such a large amount of spam emails, it may seem daunting to try and unsubscribe from every single subscription. Thankfully, services have been created to remediate this very problem. Bulk email unsubscription services allow you to view all of your current subscriptions and decide which ones you would like to unsubscribe from. While there are multiple unsubscription services, "Leave Me Alone" is pretty intuitive and user-friendly. With just the click of one button, you will be able to save yourself both the time of deleting spam emails and space in your inbox, as well as lower your carbon footprint.


Furneaux, Rosa. “How Your 'Thank You' Emails Are Polluting the Planet.” World Economic Forum, 17 Dec. 2019,

G, Nick. “How Many Emails Are Sent per Day in 2022?” Review42, 7 Mar. 2022,

Griffiths, Sarah. “Why Your Internet Habits Are Not as Clean as You Think.” BBC Future, BBC, 5 Mar. 2020,

“The Hidden Cost of Your Emails on the Planet.” CO2 Calculator, CWJobs,

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