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Reduce the email carbon footprint

Posted Thursday November 19th, 2020, 10:00 am by

Our email carbon foot print can easily be reduced. Here ten top ways to manage email more effectively to help reduce carbon footprint.

  1. Reduce the number of emails you send each day. Before hitting send, ask yourself, why am I sending this email? What will it achieve?  If you don’t have a good answer don’t send the email. If you do still need to send the email, then ask yourself is there a better way for me to communicate this message for example using a collaborative tool like Teams and especially if you are sending one message to many people.
  2. Audit your (and your manager’s) inbox to identify how you can reduce the number of emails you receive, for example Cc’d emails, newsletters etc.
  3. Share files rather than emailing them to individuals.
  4. Stop sending thank you emails. Add a note of gratitude in the original email, for example, ‘thanks in advance for your help’. If the person has gone the extra mile, call them to say thank you. This comes across as so much more sincere.
  5. Reduce the number of newsletters to which you subscribe. If you keep trashing a newsletter, unsubscribe. Perhaps the quickest and easiest way to reduce your carbon footprint.
  6. Be ruthless about reducing the amount of spam/junk email. Block it/report it and make sure you empty the Junk folder regularly.
  7. Reduce the number of people to whom you send each email. Be judicious and ask yourself does everyone in the To/Cc box really need your email? Or are you sending it to so many people for your own self-gratification?
  8. Don’t be so quick to send that follow-up chaser email. Recognise that others may not have the same priorities as you. If the matter is urgent try talking.
  9. Keep your emails as short as possible but not so short that they become trivial. Cut out all the unnecessary fluff and chatter.  (Men are far better at this than women.)
  10. Clean out your inbox regularly and at least once every three months to keep the size down. Yes, most of us now have unlimited inbox storage capacity but remember the bigger the inbox, the more CO2 is needed to preserve it in working order. If you only do occasionally, then why not join ‘Clean Inbox Week’ – always the third week of January.

In summary, small creates a beautiful email carbon footprint when it comes to email and inbox size. At the same time, make sure you don’t send trivial one-line message which have no value for the recipient, eg OK, Thanks, Will do. Chrome have a neat extension called ‘Carbon Capper’ which pops up when you send emails of less than four words to prompt you to think whether or not you need to send the email.

This is an extract of Dr Seeley’s forthcoming new book – ‘100 Tips to Improve Performance and Reduce the Carbon Footprint in the Digital Age’, being co-authored with Melissa Esquibel.

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