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E-Mail’s Carbon Footprint

| Sourced From Forbes |

One hazard of being an eco-blogger: You get a lot of e-mails every day. The time my inbox eats up is an obvious problem–but the constant flow of e-mail also creates a green issue, since each e-mail does have a carbon footprint.

The Guardian’s Green Living Blog did the math–and now I’m imagining my Gmail account with a tailpipe spewing greenhouse gases. Did you just spam me? Well then you created 0.3 grams worth of CO2-equivalent emissions–about the same amount as driving three feet in a car.

Luckily, though I get hundreds of spam e-mails a day, I don’t spend much time on them before deleting them, thanks to Gmail’s spam filter. My quick, automated reactions to exterminate spam means that only about 22% of my e-mail inbox’s carbon footprint is created by spam. While I’d like to nix that completely unnecessary waste, there’s obviously little I can do about spam–besides report it and delete it–so I’m going to accept the spam as something I can’t change.

Which brings me to the rest of my inbox–that honestly, often includes a lot of spam-esque e-mails thanks to misguided PR people who include me on badly targeted mass e-mails. According to the Guardian, each “proper e-mail” creates 4 grams of CO2-equivalent emissions–equivalent to driving 40 feet.

So I thought I’d figure out the daily carbon footprint of my Gmail inbox. Now I did not major in math, so if you see a miscalculation, please let me know. Here goes: I got 131 “proper e-mails” yesterday, the CO2-equivalent emissions of driving 5,240 feet–almost a mile! That plus the spam, roughly equivalent to driving 1,480 feet, means I emitted the CO2 equivalent emissions of driving 6,720 feet!

Except it doesn’t end there. Send me an e-mail with a long and tiresome attachment, and you’ve burned through a whopping 50 grams of CO2-equivalent emissions. Of the 131 “proper e-mails” I got yesterday, 13 had onerous attachments. Which brought my e-mail calculations to this:

118 “proper e-mails” sans attachments X 4g CO2e = 472 g CO2e
13 e-mails with attachments X 50g CO2 = 650 g CO2e

So from “proper e-mails” both with and without attachments, I get 1,122 g CO2e, which with spam swells up to 1,438g CO2e, or the equivalent to driving 14,380 feet or 2.72 miles.

I was gnashing my teeth over this when I remembered that I had forgotten to include the e-mails I sent. I sent 14, one with an attachment, which brings the total to 1,569g CO2e or the equivalent to driving 15,690 feet, or 2.97 miles.

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