How many times a day do we send an email or a simple message on whatsapp? These processes are now so natural that we carry them out with such calm that we do not think how much in reality these tools also have an environmental impact. If we add in the costs of energy production for the production of the device, the storage of data on servers, the raw materials used for each component perhaps it remains easier to understand how something that for us is so trivial and volatile in reality is seriously talking about environmental conditions. After all, like any human activity, it would be impossible not to expect consequences from this point of view. Obviously we do not think that the pen and paper method used until some time ago was less harmful, also given the problem related to deforestation, but surely the amount of letters and telegrams was far less than that of SMS or mail that we send nowadays; a communication that undeniably has always had therefore, and will always have, an important environmental impact.
The CO2 emitted by mail
According to a study conducted by the American writer and researcher Mike Berners-Lee, for every single product on the network, an average of 4 grams of CO2 are produced, which can reach up to 50 if one or more attachments are added to the message. Based on these numbers it is easy to calculate how much the mails have a strong environmental impact only if we consider the constant use that now every person makes of the service. Sending 65 emails corresponds in fact to make about a kilometer in a car, an estimate that led to calculate an emission of 136 kilograms of CO2 produced on average by each person, this time equivalent to the incredible number of 320 KM compared to a car trip. The convenience and speed of communication that the e-mail service offers has certainly radically changed the way we communicate but has meant that many less indispensable messages are sent without calculating how much they are actually harmful to the environment. About 30% of the mails that are sent in fact often are not so decisive in the conversation, as those used to thank or send the last greetings. The same emails that are at the center of the discussion of the movement “Think before you thank”, a British organization that for years is struggling precisely to raise awareness about the impact of mail, since about 70% of the world’s population has no idea how much an email can weigh on the ecosystem.
The CO2 emitted by mail
In fact, it would be enough for each of us to make small and simple precautions to make digital actions decrease their environmental impact. A small series of measures that if combined among all the individuals of the world population would bring a marked improvement. For example, let’s talk about making the right moves to ensure greater durability of devices, lighten or compress email attachments, prefer online meetings with only audio over video, favor the use of wi-fi over data in the smartphone, turn off the computer when necessary and so on. Not to mention the utility of deleting emails that do not remain useful: deleting 10 emails per individual could lead to a cut in emissions of up to 40 thousand tons ( if we calculate 4 billion mail accounts). Even by unsubscribing from newsletters that do not interest us or outdated subscriptions you can get to take that small step that is actually so great for the environment.