Every day, every hour, every minute, and even every second, billions of e-mail messages crisscross the globe, bouncing from one inbox to another at lightning speed. In all, they amount to approximately 205 billion messages annually, according to a 2015 report from the European Commission, a figure that could rise to 246 billion by 2019 according to the same sources – and that doesn’t even include spam. In other words, e-mail represents a giant step forward for better, faster communication technology, but it’s disastrous in terms of environmental impact, in the sense that all this correspondence uses a great deal of energy, generating greenhouse gases.
What happens when the Internet endangers our environment?
Who would have thought?!
Since storage requires energy, consider this: For just one saved e-mail involving the standard process (write, send, read, save), 10 grams of CO2 are emitted annually. But that’s not all! Anything that consumes excess energy also generates pollution, whether it’s time spent on the Internet; the mailing of attachments; copies of e-mails to multiple recipients, multiplying their impact on climate change; or unnecessary or excessive printing. It all adds up to an extra 287,600 tons of CO2 in the atmosphere each year.
According to ADEME (the French Environment & Energy Management Agency), in 2020, our e-mails alone may generate as much as 4% of European greenhouse gas emissions and sending an e-mail to 10 recipients multiplies its effects on climate change by a factor of 4. That’s not including the choice of computer; some of the older dinosaurs, for example, consume massive amounts of energy and emit more CO2 than their more recent counterparts. The environmental impact of past and present technologies is clear, and it is high time that we become engaged and take informed action.
With that in mind, here are a few tips to help contribute to the planet’s well-being.
What you can do for the environment
- Choose a computer with the “European Ecolabel” or “Energy Star” label, and don’t hesitate to participate in recycling (https://www.backmarket.com) by purchasing like-new, reconditioned devices.
• Save online research timeby using precise keywords or by typing the website’s URL directly into the search bar.
• Delete spam messagesas soon as they arrive, empty the trash on a regular basis, and delete messages that you don’t wish to save.
• Store your information locally or on hard drives, avoiding data storage centers.
• Send attachments through a link in order to avoid storing large files.
• As much as possible, reduce the number of recipients to whom you send a given message in order to get a handle on your e-mail.
• Don’t use your printer unless absolutely necessary. This will help you save paper, ink, and electricity.
• Don’t save the same photo on multiple storage services, as this will use up electricity unnecessarily.