You’ve got Spam

As part of the traditional ‘New Year, New me’ routine, we decided to take on a task that has been long overdue. Clearing the emails from our spam folder and unsubscribing from any unwanted email newsletters. A quick check of our ‘junk’ folder revealed 3457 unopened emails. Many of the senders are repeat offenders, with the same names cropping up daily and, sometimes more than daily.

As we got to work on our digital cleanse we had a thought: how much energy is this using?

One of the problems is that the internet is sometimes viewed as free, clean and green. But it isn’t. Every click, swipe, and like of a cat on a skateboard video is using energy. In fact the energy consumed by the internet on an annual basis amounts to 300 million tonnes of CO2 per year . To put that into perspective, that's roughly equivalent to every UK resident flying from London to New York and back, twice a year. Of course much of this internet usage comes with enormous benefits, but in the case of spam emails that argument is less convincing.

According to one recent study a staggering 62 trillion spam emails are sent each year worldwide, requiring 33 billion kilowatts of electricity and creating 20 million tonnes of CO2 per year.

The average email has just one-sixtieth the carbon footprint of the average letter. That seems like an environmental win, unless you end up sending 60 times more emails than letters. Most people, and businesses, do. This is a good example of a low-carbon technology resulting in a higher carbon output.

Now, the irony of this very blog post arriving into your inbox (or spam folder) hasn’t been lost on us. We don't want to stray into ‘annoyingly virtuous’ territory, but perhaps we should all pause and think before we hit send. Time for an email tax anyone?

As always, we welcome any feedback or comments. If you have enjoyed reading this then please do give it a share.


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