The environmental cost of email

Posted by Ryan C. Jerz on April 14, 2023

I have noticed a dramatic uptick in the number of spam emails I have been receiving to my main email account. Or, at least, more of them are getting through the filters and being filtered with my client instead. Anyway, I'm seeing ~200/day, which is a huge increase. I used to see ~20/day, but something has changed in the filtering, I think.

Anyway, I was curious what the impact of spam email is. I found this site, which does a decent job of scolding us as the regular people in the transaction. Ignore that, and think through how many emails you get per day that are junk, and what kind of energy it took to send that thing.

If I count my 200/day (this is at home, not even work, which is worse) at the .3g/email they calculate, and without adding any additional burden to the emails, such as attachments, etc., my spam is generating ~22kg of carbon emissions per year. According to this emissions calculator, that equals about 56 miles driven in a car.

I'll leave it to you to interpret what that means, but I will say it's a steeper cost than there should be for simply having an email address and nothing more. Multiply it by at least two and you have my home/work minimum impact. It's without a doubt higher, but the point here is to point out that spammers suck and if you've ever bought a list of "leads" or something you suck and should reevaluate your choices in life. I hope everyone has a great weekend.