Your Short Emails Have A Carbon Footprint

30 May 2023

Guilty of sending emails such as ‘ok’, ‘thanks’, or ‘no worries?’

All emails have a carbon footprint. While we might think of emails with attachments or send-to-all email blasts as the worst offenders, short emails also generate carbon to send and receive too.

Euro News equates the carbon impact of short emails to the CO2 generated by 3,334 diesel cars per year.

As the world’s first sustainable email platform, EcoSend is on a mission to lower your email emissions.

So if you’re unaware of the CO2 emissions that email generates, or if you want to learn how to cut your email carbon footprint - here’s what you need to know.

Why Are Short Emails Just As Bad For The Planet?

Sending a one, two or even three-word email might not seem that bad.

However, energy is still required to power your computer/phone, the email server and the same again for your email recipient(s).

When the sentences are particularly short and don’t really add any new information it’s quite a wasteful practice to communicate through email. This is especially the case when you aren’t using a sustainable email platform or green web hosting.

There’s also the small problem that all emails travel thousands of miles across the globe. Even if you email someone in the same room as you!

Entrepreneur Jonah Brucker-Cohen invented an email miles calculator. He found that sending an email from New York to Dakar would mean that email travelled 12,115 miles in total.

Even though the actual distance between these locations is around 3,800 miles, due to mail servers being located across the globe, the distance that any email travels will always be much further than the real distance. 

That’s why it doesn’t matter if you type one word or 100 words - your emails have a carbon footprint.

What Can I Do To Reduce My Email Carbon Footprint?

The first step is to stop sending unnecessary emails. For instance, sending a series of emails to add more points or information, rather than sending one concise message. 

If you’re having a discussion that’s turning into a large email thread or involves lots of colleagues - a voice call may resolve the issue while keeping your carbon footprint low. 

Also, unsubscribe from any email lists you don’t open or find useful. This will reduce the CO2 from that email having to be sent to you. That’s because even unopened emails have a carbon footprint, even if you didn’t send that email. 

For any email marketer, switching to a sustainable email marketing platform will instantly cut your emissions. A platform such as EcoSend runs on renewable energy sources, plants trees on your business’s behalf, plus invests some of its profits into climate-related causes.  

Any email platform worth its salt should also allow you to send more effective email campaigns through segmentation or behavioural targeting.

Once again, sophisticated email marketing techniques will lower your CO2 emissions all while generating better results, making it a win-win for your business. 

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

Other Unnecessary Emails We’d Like To See Stop ❌ ✉️

Some emails also really don’t need to be sent at all. 

The question is, should it be up to users to unsubscribe from unnecessary emails - or can platforms do more to stop sending an excessive amount of emails? 

After all, what about messages that end up in spam? Or mailboxes which aren’t being monitored? It’s unlikely users will manually unsubscribe from these emails themselves. 

Here are some of the most wasteful email practices that are generating CO2.

Anything Involving Email Scraper Tools

Spam isn’t just annoying, or even a violation of the CAN-SPAM Act. Email spam is also a huge contributor towards climate change, with 87% of all emails sent daily in 2021 classed as spam, according to Statista. 

Email scraper tools are one such way that spammers get your information. What we know is that nobody opens spam emails or finds them useful. All while unnecessary CO2 is generated in sending and receiving spam emails. 

So definitely never be tempted to use (illegal!) email scraper tools, and definitely report anyone who sends such emails to you.

Read more: Spam emails aren’t just annoying — they’re killing the planet

Send-To-All Email Blasts

Sending the same message to everyone in your contact list expecting the same results doesn’t work.

But when you segment your lists, you focus on sending the right message to the right person at the right time

What this means in practice is that you’re sending less emails. Yet the emails you do send have more of a desired impact. 

So by quitting the wasteful practice of targeting your entire customer base just because - you can actually earn a better email ROI.

All while lowering your email carbon footprint! 

CC’ing Every Person In The Company 

Internal emails may not have the same carbon footprint potential as emailing every customer on your contact list.

But the above logic remains true for CC’ing every person in the company as it does send-to-all email blasts. That is, often, there’s no good reason for large email groups or threads. 

Furthermore, the more recipients an email has, the larger the CO2 emissions will be. 

So while it’s always great to learn about cake in the office or a new starter… if the message can be said in person it’s much better for the planet. 

WordPress [Or Other CMS] Plugin Updates 

Who even knows what website plugins they have, let alone cares if they are updated?

Many CMS providers are guilty of sending plugin update emails on a weekly, and even on a daily basis. In reality, it would use much less carbon to generate a notification in the CMS itself. 

Or simply be able to toggle ‘auto-update plugins’ and never have to hear about them again. 

Sure, we all want an up-to-date, secure and working website. But it would be great if the robots could get on with this, without having to constantly tell us about it. 

Website Server Weekly Activity Updates 

On the same trail of thought, many websites and hosting providers will also email constant updates about website traffic. Even when there’s been no real change, or anything other exciting to report.

With so many tools on the market these days (i.e. GoSquared Analytics) there isn’t a need for website hosting platforms to also email users about their web traffic. 

The most annoying part of all is that email updates about bot traffic are sent to your email inbox…via a bot. 

Work Management Platform Task Update Emails 🌎 ✉️

It’s always handy to know if a new task has been assigned to you on the likes of Monday or Asana. 

However, many work management platforms take the email communication thing to the extreme. Instead of giving a daily digest, it’s not uncommon to receive 10-20 emails per day just from a team member clicking a few simple actions. 

Not only is an excessive amount of work-related emails stressful for the recipient, but when those emails aren’t something you interact with, they are wasteful too. 

Users are often automatically signed up to receive the maximum amount of email alerts, meaning it’s a problem everyone will face until they manually unsubscribe. 

EcoSend - Switch To Our Sustainable Email Platform For Cleaner Email Campaigns

Has all of the above made you want to lower the carbon footprint of your email campaigns?

We’re glad to hear it. But we’d be even more pleased if you’d consider switching to EcoSend!

EcoSend is a sustainable email marketing platform that allows you to send beautiful, intelligent email campaigns but without the cost to the planet.

Sign up for your free EcoSend trial to get started.

Or drop us a message if you have any questions about EcoSend.

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