Research released today reveals the UK could reduce its carbon output by over 16,433 tonnes, simply by each adult sending one less unactionable email a day.

The research commissioned by OVO Energy, the UK’s leading independent energy provider, highlights that almost three quarters of the UK (72%) are completely unaware of the carbon footprint attached to their inbox. With over 64 million unnecessary emails sent every day, this lack of knowledge is resulting in excessive unnecessary emailing from Brits and contributing 23,475 tonnes of carbon a year[4] to the UK’s footprint.

Whilst emails are an integral form of communication in today’s modern world, it would appear they’re not always worth the resulting carbon emissions. 49% of Brits confess to sending unnecessary emails to a colleague or friend within talking distance every single day, contributing to the UK population’s carbon footprint.

Unactionable one- or two-word pleasantries such as ‘thank you’ and ‘thanks’ top the list of the most regularly sent unnecessary emails.

Top 10 most ‘unnecessary’ emails sent: 

  1. Thank you
  2. Thanks
  3. Have a good weekend
  4. Received
  5. Appreciated
  6. Have a good evening
  7. Did you get/see this?
  8. Cheers
  9. You too
  10. LOL

With this revelation in mind, OVO Energy is calling upon the UK to ‘think before you thank’, having identified that each UK adult sending just 1 less email a day would reduce our carbon output by over 16,433 tonnes a year – the equivalent of 81,152 flights to Madrid or taking 3,334 diesel cars off the road[5].

Despite stereotypical British politeness being the cause of many a ‘thank you’ email, the new research also uncovered that 71% of Brits wouldn’t mind not receiving a ‘thank you’ email if they knew it was for the benefit of the environment and helping to combat the climate crisis. Better yet, 87% of the UK would be happy to reduce their email traffic to help support the same cause.

Mike Berners-Lee, researcher and author of ‘How Bad are Bananas’ and “There is no Planet B”, comments: “Whilst the carbon footprint of an email isn’t huge, it’s a great illustration of the broader principle that cutting the waste out of our lives is good for our wellbeing and good for the environment. Every time we take a small step towards changing our behaviour, be that sending fewer emails or carrying a reusable coffee cup, we need to treat it as a reminder to ourselves and others that we care even more about the really big carbon decisions.”

Katie Russell,Head of Data & Analytics at OVO Energy, adds: “At OVO Energy we believe we can fight the climate crisis together, making everyday changes that cut carbon – whilst making life better. We want to show people how every action has a carbon impact, even a simple email. To fight the climate crisis, we need to change our behaviour at every level, and help people make a start with the easy first steps.”

To help combat the issue, OVO Energy has created the world’s first carbon reducing Chrome Extension – Carbon Capper. When downloaded, the extension identifies when the user has hit send on a potentially unnecessary email, sending a prompt to ensure more thoughtful email traffic. The Extension tracks word count, flagging emails under four words, and allows users to keep a close eye on their individual email carbon footprint.

The extension is available to download from the Chrome Web Store here, or just search ‘Carbon Capper’.