What is the ecological impact of email?

About 319.6 billion emails will be sent and received every day in 2021. This figure is expected to exceed 376.4 billion in 2025. (Source: Statista). A huge figure with a strong ecological impact, which continues to grow. A world without email seems impossible today, but it is quite possible to act to moderate this effect…

Compared to traditional communication such as postal mail, sending email remains a polluting communication tool.

Per year, emails generate 410 million tons of CO2 and 80% of them are never opened by their recipient, not to mention spam, which represents half of the messages received. Storage also has a significant impact: every French person keeps between 10,000 and 50,000 unread emails in their mailbox, contributing to digital pollution.

A classic email with attachments weighs 4 grams and a long email weighs 50 grams. (Source: Carbon Literacy Project Organization)

To reduce this footprint, we can limit the number of emails and storage, but also switch to a simplified email signature.

For example, sending a 1 MB photo to ten friends by email is equivalent to driving 500 meters. Each email has to pass through several routers or servers, which consume energy, sometimes thousands of kilometers away, before landing in a neighbor’s mailbox.

Furthermore, the use of this energy to power IT infrastructure generates greenhouse gas emissions, which are mainly related to electricity consumption.

Finally, the continued growth in data volume increases storage and backup requirements, which may require additional resources and potentially have an environmental impact, depending on how email is managed and used. may be different.

Adopting practices such as reducing spam, deleting unnecessary email, using data compression techniques, and efficiently managing data centers help reduce this effect.

Does this weight matter?

The larger the email, the more resources it consumes in sending, storing and receiving it.

To reduce the environmental impact related to the load of email, it is recommended to take the following measures:

  • limit large attachments : If possible, compress files or use download links to share instead of attaching large files directly to emails.
  • use optimized file formats : Prefer lightweight file formats such as JPEG for images or PDF for documents rather than formats that take up more space.
  • avoid redundancy : Avoid copying and pasting text or images directly into the email body to reduce message size if not necessary.
  • remove unnecessary attachments : Before forwarding or replying to an email, check whether all attachments are necessary and remove those that are not.

What is responsible communication?

Responsible communication is an approach that aims to promote environmentally friendly, ethical and socially responsible communication practices. It aims to integrate sustainable and responsible ideas into all communication activities, whether it involves creating content, delivering messages, using media or interacting with stakeholders.

Here are some key principles of responsible communication:

  1. Transparency and Honesty: Provide clear, accurate and verifiable information. Avoid misrepresentation, exaggeration or deception.
  2. Respect for stakeholders: Take into account the interests and rights of stakeholders such as consumers, employees, local communities and the environment.
  3. Advertising Ethics: Avoid deceptive or manipulative advertising practices. Adhere to ethical standards in advertising and promotion.
  4. Environmental sustainability: Reduce the environmental impact of communications by reducing resource consumption, promoting the use of digital media instead of physical media, and encouraging eco-friendly practices.
  5. Diversity and Inclusion: Fairly and inclusively represents a diversity of individuals and groups in messaging and representations.
  6. Social Responsibility: Contribute positively to society by promoting messages and actions that make a beneficial social impact.
  7. Ethical engagement with the media: Respect media independence, avoid manipulation of information, and promote open and balanced dialogue.

Responsible communication is based on the idea that communication can be a powerful tool for promoting ethical values ​​and responsible behaviour. By adopting these principles, organizations can strengthen their reputation, gain consumer trust and contribute to a more sustainable and equitable world.

About the Author

Nasir Madaran, founder of LEKER, the tool that simplifies the creation and management of marketing and communications content.

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