Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at VCU chapter.

As college students, we send and receive hundreds of emails each week. While primarily used for professional communication, email is used for anything and everything. I get emails daily from VCU, Hulu, LinkedIn, the DNC, Etsy, Poshmark, Uber; the list is endless. There are often so many that they constantly clog up my inbox. Most of these are emails I won’t look at twice before deleting.

When I question why we get all these emails, I remember the multitude of instances where I’ve had to type in my email address in order to continue about my day. Creating new social media accounts, signing online petitions, buying anything online, downloading new apps, etc., nine times out of 10 you have to enter your email. I don’t keep track of all the times I have given out my email, but it seems like every day a new email from a random company I bought something from once will pop into my inbox. 

I recently discovered there is a larger issue with spam mail other than my annoyance at the ever-rising red number in the corner of my Gmail app. Emails have a carbon footprint. What?! I know, this sounds dumb. The whole internet’s impact on the environment is much larger than just emails’ carbon footprint. But, I am always looking for easy ways to be more sustainable and addressing my excess spam mail is apparently a small way to do so. 

According to fellow Mike Berners-Lee at Lancaster University, each email sent produces a minimum of .3 grams of carbon dioxide which is easily raised to 50 grams or more with additional attachments. This estimate has been said to have increased since it was made over ten years ago. Individual emails aren’t producing a ton of carbon dioxide, but everyone who uses email sends so many every day it adds up. Additionally, our world is only becoming more virtual, especially due to COVID-19, meaning even more emails are being sent. 

What can you do to help? Clean out your inbox by deleting all extra emails you won’t need in the future and unsubscribe from mail lists you don’t use. You can even organize your inbox into categories to prevent misplacing important messages you’ll need again. In order to stop receiving more emails, don’t give out your email address unless necessary. Sending fewer unnecessary emails is a small example of how cutting our waste production as a whole reduces our carbon footprint and is better for the environment. 

I don’t believe anyone enjoys getting spam mail and this is a small way to lessen your carbon footprint while also organizing your inbox. Unsubscribing from mailers I don’t care about takes a little weight off my chest. And if you don’t care about your overflowing inbox, here are some other ways to reduce your carbon footprint. 

Maddie Quigley is a political science major with a minor in media studies. She is a vegetarian, plant-lover, avid reader and she enjoys talking politics.