Turns out your work emails are actually killing the planet

Using less paper was always thought to be a beneficial way of both saving your company and others by limiting paper waste.

From a financial standpoint, using less paper means spending less money paper and printing which saves money on office supplies. It can help eliminate useless copies of handouts left at the office conference table and stop the wear-and-tear of copy machines and printers. Ink cartridges are expensive, remember.

But perhaps the biggest benefit to using less paper is how it benefits the environment in reducing an office’s carbon footprint. Less trees and energy used means the environment tastes a breath while reducing paper waste limits space used at landfills.

So emails have become the norm and continue to harass us throughout the day, the nights, the weekends, and until eternity. Emails were supposed to save the day and create and organized and efficient way to preserve what we love and make working easier.

But are emails really here to save the day? Some experts say not quite.

Cut back on some of your emails, according to a new report. The Financial Times reported that decluttering your inbox and bypassing the useless one-line “thanks” or “have a good weekend” emails can save the planet. British officials said that these one line pleasantries should possibly be skipped due to how email contributes to carbon emissions.

The report piggybacks a study conducted by OVO Energy, the UK’s leading independent energy provider, which found that if each adult in the UK could send one less “thank you” email per day, it would reduce the country’s carbon output by 16,433 tons per year. The UK typically sends over 64 million of these pointless emails every day, and while the potential change would be small — about 0.1% of the world’s carbon footprint — it would be a small step in creating change for the environment.

While the coronavirus pandemic has basically eliminated in-person interactions with colleagues, 49% of respondents in the study said they’ve sent unnecessary emails to colleagues or friends that were within walking distance. While these emails can sometimes been seen as banter, it’s clear that emails do contribute to the carbon footprint, specifically the UK’s in this example.

“Whilst the carbon footprint of an email isn’t huge, it’s a great illustration of the broader principle that cutting the waste out of our lives is good for our wellbeing and good for the environment,” said Mike Berners-Lee, a researcher from the study, in a press release. “Every time we take a small step towards changing our behavior, be that sending fewer emails or carrying a reusable coffee cup, we need to treat it as a reminder to ourselves and others that we care even more about the really big carbon decisions.”

So what are some of those unnecessary emails that have been sent? From “thanks” to “LOL,” here’s the top 10 most unnecessary emails sent in the office.

  • Thank you
  • Thanks
  • Have a good weekend
  • Received
  • Appreciated
  • Have a good evening
  • Did you get/see this?
  • Cheers
  • You too
  • LOL