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A Letter for Lesser Email Litter



Dear 7 (running on 8) billion people of the world,

How are you?

How is the world doing? I hope we make it feel better.

Maybe starting today, beginning now.

Considering that you have already checked your e-mail and have an idea of how your to-do list seems like for today, do me a favour and add something to it.

  • Organize my email and save the planet.

We, human beings, are an intelligent lot. When we needed transportation, we invented the wheel! When in need of constant communication, we built a digital world!

But when in need of a healthy planet? I doubt if Mars is ready to take the call yet.

So, we have to take it upon ourselves to don those lifeguard uniforms and save our Mother. Please go get yourself one, I’ll wait! :)

I suppose today is the day when the uniform looks like a filled trash section of your email account. Yes, that is an unfashionable yet effective way to save our dying planet. (I am sorry if you really ran the trouble of ‘borrowing’ money from your mom’s purse and got that shiny orange jacket)

Coming back to saving the planet (with or without the jacket), did you know that each email that we send has a carbon footprint? It is estimated that each email we send or receive leaves a carbon footprint equivalent to a minimum of 0.3g of CO2 and goes up to 50g of CO2e* for long mails with attachments (Remember the last time you went “Hereby I attach meh meh meh”? Yeah, 50 grams).

This might well be an insignificant sum when considered individually but looking at the bigger picture, it is estimated that, in the present scenario of 2020, around 306.4 billion emails are sent per day. Equating that with even the average emission of CO2 equivalent of 1g, we arrive at 10 million tonne equivalent of CO2 per year owing to the transfer of emails alone. To put things into perspective, an approximate of 16,400 CO2e is equivalent to more than 40,000 people flying from the southern tip of India to the capital, New Delhi. That makes our sum of 10 million tonnes to be equal to over 50 million people taking that flight! And that is not helping our planet. Period.

The conclusive figures may seem inconspicuous in relation to the annual figures of transportation or dietary related emissions (well, we talk about that here). But in the broader aspect of the health of our planet and the future of climate change, a collective approach is necessary to urgently tackle this phenomenon.

Now, the only thing left for us to tell ourselves is that we matter (that includes you, buddy!). In this world populated with people and their actions, each change, minute or large, in our lifestyle is capable of creating a considerably huge impact (remember that time you pushed your friend in a queue and people just transformed into falling dominoes? That but instead of pushing people we're saving the planet).

So if we adhere to the act of even deleting 10 emails per day, we are aiming to reduce greenhouse emissions by a huge tab. These may be the emissions released in the process of powering the related devices in use, network used in transmission and importantly, the data centres that store these digital letters. We need to remind ourselves that all of us are equally responsible as well as accountable for this miracle of an inhabitable space rock and if saving it means sending just one less "acknowledged" email to Mr. X in the cubicle next door, then that's a positive!

We speak of email pollution today because it's a complex global phenomenon and this considerably small realisation might unite us all in the fight against climate change. It is not an action restricted by any geographic constraints, but in contrary, teaches us about a global waste management system that we were previously unacquainted to. So sergeant, hand on your chest and repeat after me!

  • I will find and delete 10 emails that don't serve me purpose anymore

  • I shall unsubscribe from all mailing lists that remain mostly unread

  • Most importantly, I will not engage in countless formality emails that read "thank you", "cheers", "acknowledged" or the like. (Maybe have an in-person conversation later with Mr. X instead. I promise he’s not as scary as he looks)

  • Mindful Mailing is my daily mantra.

Now, as the climate clock ticks back every passing second, it becomes of growing importance for us to act instantly. And I believe you and I can and will begin today. As we kick back in our office chairs and dive into our computers once more, let's remind ourselves how we can be warriors in this fight against climate change. Let's remind ourselves that each of our actions matter and just one deleted mail might be another push towards reversing the climate clock. Let's fight this fight for our planet, for our future and for ourselves.

Yours truly,

The ghost of your future world

Every 3000 sheets of paper cost us a tree. Let's save our environment. Please don't print this email unless you really need to.

- Sneha Devraj


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