The Hidden Cost of E-mail

...and how we fix this with Mail Sweeper.

The Hidden Cost of E-mail

Our inboxes have become the front lines of a relentless battle against a tide of emails. Notifications buzz, and pings chime, signaling the arrival of yet another message demanding our attention. Whether it’s a crucial work update, an urgent plea from a distant relative, or yet another promotional offer promising the deal of a lifetime, the constant barrage is almost inescapable.

Some of us, might strive for the mythical Inbox Zero. While others of us acknowledge the impossibility of this task. Thousands of emails build and become the digital dust bunnies of our inbox.

There is sometimes a cost to the accumulation of digital envelopes:

  1. Our time — we may spend time trying to organize our inbox, or delete emails to free up space.
  2. Our money — we may not want to spend time, and instead opt to pay our techno oligarchs a monthly pittance for the privilege of extra storage.

But there is a third cost, not often discussed…this cost is Carbon.

The Carbon Footprint of Email

In How Bad Are Bananas, Mike Berners-Lee discusses the “Carbon Footprint of Everything”. Part of the book discusses email, and how it is calculated that the average email has an approximate carbon footprint of 0.3g CO2e. These numbers increase with emails containing images, where an image or attachment can increase the footprint to 50g CO2e. With 4+ billion people now using email daily, and the average user receiving 121 emails per day…these numbers add up. Fast. In the book, Mike Berners-Lee estimates that email creates 0.3% of our annual carbon footprint.

While there are certainly larger fish to fry, we believe that something as trivial as email is a great place to analyze and see if we can do better.

That's why we invented Mail Sweeper.