Building Legal Solutions

News and Events


View profile for Steven Petty
  • Posted
  • Author

As we continue on our journey towards achieving B-corp status, I’ve been looking into some of the ways we can reduce our carbon footprint.

One unexpected opportunity for reducing our energy use is email.

Statisa reports that total email traffic in December 2021 was 319.6 billion emails every day and a significant proportion of that total is spam.  The statistics for spam seem to vary widely with claims that the percentage of all emails represented by spam comprising anything between 45% and 85% of all email traffic.  What isn’t in doubt though is the huge total number of spam emails.

The carbon footprint of a single spam email without attachments has been estimated at 0.03g of CO2e so if spam is at the upper limit of the above range then the total carbon emissions of spam email amounts to around 81,300 metric tons of CO2e every day or almost 30 million metric tons a year.  To put that into perspective, that is more than the annual carbon emissions of Denmark.

One simple way to help reduce this volume of emails is to take the very small amount of time and effort to unsubscribe from marketing emails as the spam hits your inbox.  As well as reducing my carbon footprint, I’ve found it incredibly satisfying to see the reduction in unwanted emails cluttering up my inbox.

Although the carbon footprint of a spam email without attachments sent to one person has been calculated at 0.03g of CO2e, for a non-spam email that the recipient reads the footprint is ten times higher at 0.3g.  The footprint continues to increase for emails sent to multiple recipients and those with attachments.  An email sent to ten recipients will emit 4.9g of CO2e and one with a large attachment can be as much as 50g of CO2e.

Lawyers are notorious for sending emails to multiple recipients and with large attachments.  It seems to have become the modern practice to copy absolutely everyone involved in a transaction into every email whether the content involves them or not.

The solution to the curse of the huge circulation list is to simply prune the number of recipients before pressing send.  Attachments can be replaced with links in the email to the same documents.

The final bad email habit is the ‘thanks’ reply.  We are all guilty of this one but very often there is really no need to send a pointless acknowledgment.

To summarise, this is a simple action plan we can all embrace to painlessly reduce the energy use of email traffic:

Unsubscribe from unwanted marketing lists

Keep the number of recipients to a minimum

Send links to documents instead of attachments

Send less pointless acknowledgments