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  • Susan

Think before you thank

The UK could save 16,433 tonnes of carbon a year by sending one less unnecessary e-mail a day.

#OVO Energy is calling upon the UK to ‘Think before you thank’ – sending fewer #e-mails won’t solve the climate crisis, but it does prove the point that by cutting down on junk we can all improve our lives as we reduce carbon.

New research reveals the UK could reduce its #carbon output by over 16,433 tonnes, simply by each adult sending one less unactionable e-mail a day.

The research commissioned by OVO Energy, one of the UK’s leading independent #energy providers, highlights that almost three quarters of the UK (72%) are completely unaware of the carbon footprint attached to their inbox. With over 64 million unnecessary e-mails sent every day, this lack of knowledge is resulting in excessive unnecessary emailing from Brits and contributing 23,475 tonnes of carbon a year to the UK’s footprint.

Whilst e-mails are an integral form of communication in today’s modern world, it would appear they are not always worth the resulting carbon emissions. Some 49% of people confess to sending unnecessary e-mails to business contacts – or even to colleagues or friends within talking distance – every single day, contributing to the UK carbon footprint.

Unactionable one or two word pleasantries such as ‘thank you’ and ‘thanks’ top the list of the most regularly sent unnecessary e-mails.

Top 10 most ‘unnecessary’ e-mails sent:

1.       Thank you.

2.       Thanks.

3.       Have a good weekend.

4.       Received.

5.       Appreciated.

6.       Have a good evening.

7.       Did you get/see this?

8.       Cheers.

9.       You too.

10.   LOL.

With this revelation in mind, OVO Energy is calling upon the UK to ‘think before you thank’, having identified that each UK adult sending just one less e-mail a day would reduce our carbon output by over 16,433 tonnes a year – the equivalent of 81,152 flights to Madrid or taking 3334 diesel cars off the road.

Despite stereotypical British politeness being the cause of many a ‘thank you’ e-mail, the new research also uncovered that 71% of Brits wouldn’t mind not receiving a ‘thank you’ e-mail if they knew it was for the benefit of the environment and helping to combat the climate crisis. Better yet, 87% of the UK would be happy to reduce their e-mail traffic to help support the same cause.

Mike Berners-Lee, researcher and author of ‘How Bad are Bananas’ and ‘There is no Planet B’, commented: ‘Whilst the carbon footprint of an e-mail isn’t huge, it is 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. Every time we take a small step towards changing our behaviour, 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.’

(Editor’s note: And, whilst the carbon footprint of one e-mail may not seem like much, if that ‘one’ is added to the billions we send and receive each day, the carbon footprint and energy use soon adds up to be huge. According to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), some 215.3 billion e-mails are sent per day. Now consider, a 10 KB e-mail uses in the region of 0.074 microwatts of electricity, and a 500 KB e-mail up to 3.7 microwatts!).

Katie Russell, head of data and analytics at OVO Energy, said: ‘At OVO Energy we believe we can fight the climate crisis together, making everyday changes that cut carbon – whilst making life better. We want to show people how every action has a carbon impact, even a simple e-mail. To fight the climate crisis, we need to change our behaviour at every level, and help people make a start with the easy first steps.’

To help combat the issue, OVO Energy has created the world’s first carbon reducing Chrome Extension – Carbon Capper. When downloaded, the extension identifies when the user has hit send on a potentially unnecessary e-mail, sending a prompt to ensure more thoughtful e-mail traffic. The Extension tracks word count, flagging e-mails under four words, and allows users to keep a close eye on their individual e-mail carbon footprint. 


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