Everyone knows at least a couple of ways to reduce their carbon footprint. Things like going vegetarian/vegan, using a bike or public transportation instead of a car, or thrifting your clothes. However, it turns out that there are easier ways to do it. While I was scrolling through Instagram the other day I stumbled upon a TikTok reupload which stated that you can reduce your yearly carbon footprint by simply unsubscribing from unwanted email newsletters. Personally, I’ve never considered that as an environmental threat so I started digging, and here are the results.
I think that every sane person has at least two email addresses. The one you use for serious stuff like university or work and at least one address you started using as a kid and are too embarrassed now to use it any longer. In my case, this email became a junk box I used whenever I had to access this one article or sign up for an online game I knew I would drop after two days. Whenever I have to check out something on this email I am horrified by the number of unopened emails from things I don’t even remember I signed up for. However, as soon as I close the tab the problem goes away and I do not think about it at all. Well, what if I told you that this junk box is actually responsible for a quite significant part of your carbon footprint? According to this website by unsubscribing from only 9 newsletters you can reduce your carbon footprint by 35 grams, which is the equivalent of 41 plastic bags! But how does this work? I am sure there are people who are more conscious than me when it comes to Internet usage and how it actually works, however, for those whose knowledge about the Internet narrows down to mindless scrolling (including myself), I am asking: why does your junk box produce so much carbon footprint?
Turns out the answer is pretty simple. The digital carbon footprint is emitted by pretty much everything we do on the Internet. The data centers require immense amounts of power to store every email ever sent. In most parts of the world, the electricity needed for these types of actions is produced with the use of fossil fuels, thus, the carbon footprint. And while there are some Internet habits we cannot abandon there are also things that are straight-up unnecessary and email subscriptions are one of them. However, the unwanted subscriptions are only part of the problem, the same thing goes for already opened emails that just hover in your mailbox forever. Out of curiosity, I decided to check how much storage does my email use and to my surprise, it turns out that it’s almost 2,5GB of data on my email and 2,5GB on my GoogleDrive (and this is the serious one, not the junk one). Knowing that I will most likely never look twice at the emails and documents stored there I am starting to feel guilty about my Internet habits. Not only is it a massive waste of space but it is also bad for the environment.
Don’t torture yourself too much though, we all know who is truly responsible for the emissions of carbon dioxide. We can only do so much.
Maybe next time you’ll have some free time on your hands take a look at your mailbox and unsubscribe from the newsletters that have been annoying you for the longest time but not enough for you to actually delete it. Take a look at your inbox as well and delete the Brightspace verification code emails and other one-time-use messages. If you feel really overwhelmed by the amount of junk you’ll have to go through, I have something that might help you. Leavemealone is an app that tracks unwanted subscriptions and does the work for you so check it out and do some micro-activism!