What happens when you hit send on a new email campaign? Do those emails
leave a carbon footprint? Maybe sustainable email marketing is something
you’ve never even considered.
It’s easy to tell ourselves that email is environmentally friendly.
After all, it means marketers are sending less physical junk mail to
people’s homes, which reduces paper waste and saves trees, right?
But the truth is marketing emails do require the use of energy and
fossil fuels. And it’s possible to waste that energy.
What does the research say?
Every single email we send is stored somewhere in the ‘cloud'.
What is the cloud, in reality? It’s a network of energy-intensive data
centers spread around the world, filled with servers, cables,
temperature-controlled environments, and lots of other software
All the emails in our inboxes are using up space on the servers at these
data centers, and the more space that’s needed, the more energy that
How much electricity do emails use? As calculated by Eco2 Greetings,
text-based emails emit about 4 grams of CO2e
(carbon dioxide equivalent). The source also estimates that an average
year of emailing emits about 136 kilograms of CO2e, which is about the
same impact as driving 200 miles in a gas-powered car.
What is email's carbon footprint?
(Credit: Getty Images/Javier Hirschfeld via BBC)
The bottom line is that, while it may be relatively small, email does have
an environmental impact.
We can’t control how many emails people store in their inboxes, and we
certainly can’t keep them from sending unnecessary messages to friends,
family, and colleagues. However, there are some things email marketers can do.
At Two Green Ladies. We use an environmentally friendly hosting company
and apply the following rules.
- Clean up your email lists regularly.
- Watch our email ‘weight.’ i.e., keep them trimmed with fewer words
- More segmentation, less batch-and-blast.
- Avoid the ‘oops email.'
Ultimately, we can save the Earth by rethinking the way we live and
consume, which includes email marketing and many other business practices.