We love it when we find great tips in our community, and particularly when its tips that everyone can relate to that are small but powerful to reduce your environmental footprint.

That’s why we just had to share information on the topic of how to reduce your digital footprint, particularly through your email activity. This post is inspired and co-written by Elle @sustainable.elle, a brilliant eco champion who always speaks of the most pressing environmental issues and inspires us to live more sustainably. Elle, you are awesome!


A digital footprint is the amount of CO2 emissions released into our atmosphere as a result of your digital activity, which consists of the electricity used to charge and run your device (computer, phone, etc.), but also the electricity used to manufacture the device itself. This electricity production is often generated from burning fossil fuel that releases a large amount of CO2 into the atmosphere, leading to climate change.

Quick fact: if the internet was a country, it would be the sixth most polluting nation in the world

One of the easiest changes you can do to reduce your digital footprint is to look at our email activity, and here’s why.


The average office worker sends and receives around 140 emails every day, generating the same amount of CO2 as having used 16,800 single-use plastic carrier bags each year

People in the UK send more than 64 million unnecessary emails every day

If each person in the UK sent one fewer “thank you” email a day, we would save more than 16,433 tonnes of carbon a year - the same as 81,152 flights to Madrid or taking more than 3,334 diesel cars off the road

The average working person spends 13 hours a week reading and processing emails and checks their mailbox 15 times per day

We produced more than 620 million tonnes of CO2 each year due to our email activity, which is more than the annual CO2 footprint of Australia.


There are several ways to reduce our digital email footprint, and here are some that are very effective.

  • Unsubscribe
    The first step is to de-clutter your inbox. Use an app to help you unsubscribe from any newsletters you don’t want.
  • Delete old email addresses
    Reducing the number of email addresses you use is an instant way to cut down your digital footprint.
  • Don't copy people in for the sake of it
    Question who really needs to be copied in. If you streamline the number of people copied in your emails, you reduce your carbon footprint (and potentially theirs).
  • Shrink any attachments
    What you send in your emails affects the email’s carbon footprint. Shrink attachments or replace them with a hyperlink. An email with an attachment releases 50 grams of CO2 versus 4 grams for one without.
  • Schedule your email time
    Schedule a dedicated email response time in your schedule to increase efficiency.
  • Reduce the number of errors and follow-ups
    Review emails before sending them to ensure that you have all the necessary and correct information, reducing the need for follow up emails.
  • Send fewer emails
    Do this by only answering those that really need answering. You can add a note at the bottom of your email saying, “In order to cut my email CO2 footprint, I may not answer emails unless necessary, I hope that you understand.”. This will hopefully make the receiver appreciate that you are not being rude, just conscious.
  • Go for green energy
    Switch to a 100% renewable energy provider, moving away from fossil fuel-generated electricity makes a big difference!
  • Buy from more sustainable manufacturers
    Buy digital equipment from companies that are dedicated to more sustainable manufacturing
  • And perhaps the most obvious one, turn off your digital devices when not in use

There are so many small changes we can do to have a big impact on our individual environmental footprint, and this is a great way to reduce your digital email footprint.

We know that the carbon footprint of an email is small compared to other activities that we do in our daily lives, but it is a good reminder that reducing waste in our lives lead to our well-being as well as the well being of our environment, being it sending fewer emails or using a reusable water bottle. Small changes make a big impact in the long run.

Find more small changes HERE


Co-written by the Nature Unite Team and Elle @sustainable.elle