How To Lower Your Email Carbon Footprint

6 Aug 2023

All of our digital activity generates CO2 and email is no exception.

The good news is that with some simple steps, every business and individual can lower their email carbon footprint.

All without the need to give up email altogether - since email can offer an incredible $42 ROI for every $1 spent.

Awareness is the first step to improving the issue. So here are some top tips to reduce your email carbon footprint.

Why Does Email Have A Carbon Footprint?

It takes energy to create, send and store emails.

Research has found that an email can generate between 4g and 26g of CO2 depending on its weight. 

Consider that some 300 billion emails are sent every day, and the problem soon becomes clear.

This is why every business needs to know that their emails have a carbon footprint, so that their environmental impact can be reduced. 

Don’t know your email carbon footprint?: Check out the EcoSend Email Campaign Carbon Calculator ✉️

Switch To A Sustainable Email Provider

Sustainable email providers such as EcoSend run on renewable energy sources. 

This means instead of being powered by coal, oil or gas - renewable energy such as wind or solar power are used to power our systems instead. 

The benefits of businesses switching to a sustainable email provider include:

  • Helps your business as a whole to reduce its carbon footprint

  • Sets an excellent example for your team

  • Demonstrates to clients and stakeholders your commitment to the climate

  • No need to compromise on the features you need just for being greener 

  • Doesn’t cost the earth (in every sense of the word!)

Given you can’t control the CO2 produced by your email provider, switching to a sustainable email provider helps to ensure that no emissions are being overlooked by your business. 

Avoid Email Auto Replies Wherever Possible

It is common for businesses to set up an auto reply function when they receive a message from a customer. For instance, to let people know that emails will be answered within 24 hours. Or, where to find more information while people wait for a response.

However, auto sending an email is a wasteful practice since CO2 will be generated every single time a message is sent and received.

A better option would be to leave a message on your website to thank people for their enquiry, and to let them know a typical timeframe to expect a reply in. 

Use Instant Messages Rather Than Email For Internal Communication 

In a book written by Mike Berners Lee called ‘How bad are bananas?’, Mike's calculations found that an average email emits 4g of CO2, compared to just 0.014 CO2 for an instant message. 

Granted, the likes of Slack, Monday or Asana might not work for customer or other forms of external communication. However, for internal discussions, instant messages are quicker and easier to send resulting in a smaller carbon footprint.

Plus, when a member of your team is replying or has seen your message, you can see this instantly. So unlike with email, there’s no waiting around for a response.

Delete Useless Emails

Emails don’t just generate CO2 when they are sent but also when they are stored too. 

Every so often, make a point of deleting emails which are sitting in your inbox but aren’t needed for anything further. 

For example, a newsletter which you’ve already read. Or, a reply to a colleague which meant something at the time but no longer has a purpose. 

Don’t Send One Word Emails

‘Hi’, ‘thanks’, ‘okay’ - these might seem like harmless bits of communication. However, one word (or very short) emails still have a carbon footprint.

In a previous post, we told you how Euro News equates the carbon impact of short emails to the CO2 generated by 3,334 diesel cars per year. 

So, if you can do without sending that reply (especially if what you have to say is a given, or could be said in a more efficient way), then not sending that message will lower your email CO2 emissions. 

Read more: Your Short Emails Have A Carbon Footprint

Remove Or Compress Image Attachments

The most offending emails where carbon emissions are concerned are those with attachments, along with large email threads. 

Research has shown that adding an attachment to an email can take its CO2 emissions from an average of 4g of CO2 up to 26g of CO2. That’s 6.5x more polluting than a plain text email without attachments.

If you really must send an attachment through email, then reducing the size (for photos) or compressing the file can reduce the weight. Likewise, opting for a different file type can also reduce the amount of CO2 produced. 

Unsubscribe From Any Emails You Don’t Enjoy/Don’t Need To Receive 

Most of us have limited time in the day as it is for reading emails. But add in the fact that emails generate CO2, and a cleaner inbox is even more of an incentive to unsubscribe from mailing lists you don’t need to be on.

Many brands are guilty of sending emails daily if not several times a day. Plus, you may have ended up subscribed to a list that you actually never open.

Fewer emails sent to you also mean fewer carbon emissions, so schedule that cathartic email inbox cleanse without delay. 

Opt Out Of Unnecessary Email Notifications

When your email address is linked to any kind of subscription, product or service it’s common to receive notifications.

However, often many of the notifications we receive just aren’t necessary. For instance, social media notifications we’ll see when we log in anyway. Or other pointless things we just really don’t need to know.

Reducing the number of emails you receive won’t just lower your carbon emissions, but also your stress levels too making this an all around win. 

Segmentation Vs Send To All 

Sending an email to every person on your list for every campaign is a wasteful practice. Not only is send to all an ineffective technique, but it also generates CO2 needlessly by sending too many emails.

Segmentation = sending the right message to the right person at the right time

By segmenting your list, you’re also personalising your communication. What could be better than improved open rates and click-through rates, while also reducing your carbon footprint? 

Learn more: 7 Ways To Segment Your Email List

Check Your Laptop’s Carbon Footprint

Once you’ve maximised all of the ways to reduce your email carbon footprint, it’s time to turn your attention to the devices you create your emails on.

Various sources have been referenced in creating a list of laptop carbon footprints, based on a typical 4 year use.

For instance, a 13 inch MacBook Air is expected to generate 161 kg of CO2 over its entire life cycle - (Apple).

However, the carbon emissions of a Lenovo Thinkpad X270 jump to 851.68 CO2 over its life cycle. 

Every laptop make, model, screen size and memory capabilities will produce varying CO2 emissions. So it’s worth checking these before you buy, especially if your devices are for business use. 

Switch To A Green Energy Provider To Power Office Or Home Tech 

With your email marketing and laptop generating fewer emissions, one of the last steps is to switch to a green energy provider. This will ensure all the power for your home or office is being sourced from the cleanest energy possible.

Check out our list of UK green energy suppliers to learn more. 

Bonus points if you install your own solar panels and generate your own electricity, plus surplus energy which is then distributed back throughout the grid! 

Get A Zero Carbon Website

After all that effort to reduce your email CO2, the final step is to ensure the place where you send your email subscribers (your website!) also has a reduced carbon footprint.

Research has found websites with 10,000 monthly page views can have annual CO2 emissions as high as 60kg. 

Various aspects of a website can generate CO2. For instance, using lots of heavy images or videos on a page. Plus autoscroll, meaning users never fully reach the end of a page.

Lighter websites are faster to load and provide a better user experience as a result. 

Learn more: How To Get A Zero Carbon Website 

EcoSend - Switch Your Email Marketing To Our Sustainable Platform Today 

As the world’s first sustainable email marketing platform, EcoSend is on a mission to clean up the world of email.

The question is, are you ready to join us?

EcoSend plans start from just $49 per month and every plan comes with a free trial. Our systems run on renewable energy sources, and we’ll plant a tree on your behalf just for signing up.

Have any questions about EcoSend, or want to schedule a free demo with us? Visit our Support Centre to learn more.

About the author

Rachael O'Flaherty

Content Writer

The email marketing platform for better business

Win new customers, send better email, and make the planet better with every campaign.

  • Free Email Templates

  • Smart Segmentation

  • Lead Forms

  • Automated Campaigns

  • Automatic Offsetting

  • Team Sharing

  • HTML Email Editor

  • Multi-channel Campaigns

  • Drip Campaigns

  • MailChimp Import

  • Zapier Integration

  • Powerful API

The email marketing platform for better business

Win new customers, send better email, and make the planet better with every campaign.

  • Free Email Templates

  • Smart Segmentation

  • Lead Forms

  • Automated Campaigns

  • Automatic Offsetting

  • Team Sharing

  • HTML Email Editor

  • Multi-channel Campaigns

  • Drip Campaigns

  • MailChimp Import

  • Zapier Integration

  • Powerful API