Do you remember chain letters? I would receive a letter in the post and then painstakingly write it out ten times and send it on to 10 friends. The next step was to send a post card to the first 5 people on the list. I would then wait excitedly for the post man for my promised 20 post cards from all over the world. I think I only ever received one post card.
These days it’s all a lot quicker and I receive chain emails in my inbox every day. I get promises of good luck in 7 days if I send it on, and sometimes threats of bad luck if I don’t. My inbox get clogged with pictures of cute puppies, celebrities in embarrassing situations, missing children, cures for cancer, Microsoft giving out free computers… you name it, I get it!
Although it doesn’t take a lot of energy for you to hit “forward” here are a few interesting facts about the energy embedded in emailing:
- One year of incoming email for the average business user (this includes sending, filtering and reading) leaves a carbon legacy of around 135kg.
- A spam email = 0.3g CO2e
- A proper email = 4g CO2e
- An email with a long and tiresome attachment = 50g CO2e
- Around 62 trillion spam messages are sent every year, requiring the use of 33bn kilowatt hours (KWh) of electricity and causing around 20 million tonnes of CO2e per year.
- An estimated 80% of this electricity is consumed by the reading and deleting of spam and the searching through spam folders to dig out genuine emails that ended up there by accident.
- Spam filters themselves account for 16%. The actual generation and sending of the spam is a very small proportion of the footprint.
- Remember to delete spam, joke and hoax emails as soon as they arrive as it costs to store them too.
So next time I’m tempted to forward that fluffy kitten picture to everyone I know, I might give it a second thought. I’m going to try to only send relevant emails. A great website to check if an email is a hoax is Snopes and believe me, most of them usually are. Although, I DO have a friend in Nigeria who has recently inherited a lot of money and he would like to share it with you….
Sources: KTP Green & McAfee research