‘We implore you to delete this email.’

Photo of a laptop with the Gmail email app open on the screen

Old emails contribute to the climate crisis.
Let’s get rid of them.

When the next email blast goes out to Knights all over the world, “We implore you to delete this email” will be the subject line. (Along with a plea to read the content first, of course.)

Many people have hundreds… thousands… tens of thousands… even hundreds of thousands of old emails just sitting out there on a server somewhere. They might not even realize it, or if they do realize it they don’t care or give it much thought.

One of the principles of the Climate Knights is that positive change starts with the little things, and what’s “littler” than deleting an email? Sure, it’s a bigger deal to delete 100 or 1,000 or 10,000, but it’s something we all can, and should, do. And once we get ahead, it’s a lot easier to keep those email boxes and folders clear.

It’s just an email. What’s the big deal?

Well, it’s actually a small deal. 

But multiply that small deal by hundreds… thousands… tens of thousands… even hundreds of thousands…. Well, you get the idea.

Green Matters notes that, according to Data Center Knowledge, data centers that store emails, among other types of data, “…account for about 1 percent of all electricity consumed in the world in a given year.” Further, says Green Matters:

“Deleting emails is the easiest way to reduce your carbon footprint on the computer, but that’s not all you can do. You could also unsubscribe from emails or newsletters you don’t actually intend to read, or delete those emails once you’ve read them.

“According to The Good Planet, nearly 107 billion spam emails were sent and received a day in 2019. If every person only deleted 10 of those emails, they could save 1,725,00 gigabytes of storage space and around 55.2 million kilowatts of power.”

Photo of fingertips holding an old mobile phone for delete emails post
Photo by Rodion Kutsaev via Unsplash

Another thing we can do is change the email settings so old messages are automatically deleted after a period of time we define.

Since Gmail is, according to TechJury, the most-used email platform in the world, here are some instructions for creating filters that clear out old emails from your inbox and junk folder. If you’re using Outlook, Yahoo or something else, a quick Google search should lead you to platform-specific instructions.

So, deleting old emails is one little thing we can do. Automatically removing emails moving forward is another. A third is to unsubscribe from newsletters we don’t plan to or have time to read. 

Here’s one more little way to reduce email-related emissions:

According to eCo2 Greetings, “A normal email, one without an attachment, has a carbon footprint of 4g of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent). This figure relates to the power that data centres and your computers spend sending, filtering and reading your messages.”

Do we really need to reply “Got it” or “Thanks!” to every email we receive? Granted, there are times when it is necessary for positive partner and client relations or smooth communication among team members, but please, before blasting out that banal backatchya, think twice.

Additional Reading

Knights of the Climate Covenant Icon

Featured image by Stephen Phillips via Unsplash.

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