It is a given that email is more environmentally friendly than snail-mail and old-fashioned paper memos. While it hasn’t led to a completely paperless office yet, the shift to digital communication has greatly helped U.S. offices cut down on paper usage within the last decade. Snail mail relies on equipment and fuel to deliver mail, whereas email can be delivered nearly instantaneously over great distances. Clearly email wins the environmental vote.
But by how much email wins is debatable. Electricity powers not only your personal and office computers, but also the email servers where your messages sit before you check them. Despite breakthroughs in alternative energy sources, most of that electricity still comes from polluting technologies like fossil fuels. Many people also print out important emails, effectively canceling out the advantage email has over snail-mail when it comes to paper usage.
Read the rest of this entry »