Every time I send an e-mail, update Facebook, purchase something from Amazon, or search
on Google/ Goodsearch, I am actually working on the Cloud. The Cloud is made up of gigantic servers and data centers which store and process data. All this data processing take energy. Most of the energy is used to keep the servers cool as they process the world’s growing appetite for the Internet. An article from the New York Times estimated that digital warehouses worldwide use about 30 billion watts of electricity which is roughly equivalent to the output of 30 nuclear power plants. Furthermore, studies have estimated the carbon cost of each spam e-mail: 0.3 grams of carbon per e-mail. The environmental cost of e-mail can escalate quickly when you consider how many e-mails you get daily and then multiply that by the people in the world with e-mail.
I will reduce my digital footprint by deleting all my unnecessary e-mails. When I started, I had 1400 e-mails on my Gmail account, and each one of them was sitting out there digitally on a server somewhere demanding energy. Then I deleted hundreds of old e-mails, cleaned out my spam folder, deleted my sent messages, and deleted my trashed messages. Now I have less than 75 e-mails. I also unsubscribed from a bunch of useless e-mail lists. This is not just a one-time activity- I will periodically delete my old messages and my sent/ trash folders.
If I wanted to reduce my digital footprint even more, I would delete my entire online existence: Facebook, Twitter, Walgreens account, this WordPress account, Amazon profile…the list is endless. However, I still want to enjoy the 21st century so I will not be going to that extreme. For now, I am glad that reduced my e-mail volume so significantly.