by Anna Wybieralska May 7, 2020

When it comes to the environment, there is no excuse to not care. Everyone should strive to live a more ecological life, privately and in business. However, working towards becoming a sustainable company can be a long and hard process. And you could have some doubts if it’s even worth it.

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Let’s get one thing straight. There should be no doubt that making more conscious decisions and trying to improve the environment we are in is worth it. There are numerous benefits as to why we could and should live by more eco-friendly rules and care about the environment. Sadly, it seems that especially with big businesses, the profits outweigh the gains. Many decide to opt for a cheaper solution, ignoring more costly but sustainable options. Companies should be held responsible for the damage they make and do all they can, and is within their possibility, to lessen their ecological footprint. For example, switching from paper to email to help the environment.

But, change doesn’t start with a big company - it starts with one person. That’s why Elastic Email not only works as a whole company to lessen their footprint but also each individual working here tries to do their part. We asked the Elastic Email team about their actions to make a change in the world. We hope it will inspire you to take this step as well. However, before we talk further about the subject at hand, let’s talk about why we actually should talk about emails and the environment together.

Do emails affect the environment?

It’s the only one we have.

Have you ever wondered about space travel and the possibility to one day settle on a different planet? This vision is as beautiful as it is far-fetched. True that currently there are many companies working hard to make this dream become a reality. But it still will be at least 13 years before we could even plan the trip. Furthermore, even if one day we will be able to colonize a new planet, it’s not possible to move the whole population on Earth. What is quite realistic, is that the lucky few will leave and the majority of people living on Earth will remain. Just this vision alone should be a good enough reason to care about the environment and the planet we occupy at the moment.

Besides that, we as a primary species have the moral responsibility to care about all the other creatures that live here with us. By neglecting this obligation, many species that keep the environment free-flowing are going extinct, like for example bees. They are absolutely vital for the rest of the world and without them, our grocery shelves would look drastically different. We also put our lives in danger as we take our food and water from the environment. By polluting it, we pollute our bodies as well.

There are many myths about the Earth naturally changing it’s climate regardless of our impact. Honestly, though, we are the main reasons why it’s happening. Therefore, our duty is to take this responsibility and protect the collateral victims that are animals, bugs, and trees.

Still not convinced that you should care about the environment? You could listen to what the youngest generation has to say. Their replies are backed up by the scientific data of the human impact on the planet.

"While renovating my house I made sure that the solutions implemented are energy-efficient, like using rainwater or composting. I’m baking my own bread, choosing cold water instead of heating it up, picking reusable containers instead of plastic ones, and most importantly, I’m teaching my kids about the importance of those habits."

The weight of environmental issues

Our Earth struggles with many problems like global warming, acid rain, air pollution, urban sprawl, waste disposal, ozone layer depletion, water pollution, and climate change. This is already quite a list, and yet, we have barely scratched the surface. And who is to blame for all the issues we mentioned?

Many are led to believe that small businesses or single people are not making these issues worse. Ultimately, changing their habits will not make a significant dent. Usually, we put the blame on the major companies that overproduce, cut costs, and hoard the revenue for the higher-ups, and we wouldn’t be wrong. Big businesses that opt for cheaper transportation methods of their products, establish factories in cheap-labor countries, and enable child-labor can also be the ones that dump their waste in the rivers and seas and pollute the air with greenhouse gasses. They are in a result polluting our planet.

do emails affect the environment

However, putting the blame only on them is unfair. Consumers and small businesses should also take responsibility for the lack of care about the environment. We are the ones who purchase from them and pollute our surroundings with tons of packaged goods or plastic bags. By supporting the fast-paced disposable movement, we are also guilty of the current environmental issues and we should be held accountable.

As a result of ignoring the above, we will suffer major consequences like, for example, lack of clean water and deteriorating flora. Due to this, the production of food will lessen and the quality will go down. Combining it with steadily increasing overpopulation issues, we have a mix that could ultimately lead to a global extinction of our species. There are various sources that comment further on the impact of human presence on the environment. Probably the most thorough one is the Impact of Technology on Environment that shows the negative effects (like the disappearance of the Aral Sea) and the scientific explanations behind them.

Now, in my opinion, the biggest crime that we are making against ourselves and the Earth - deforestation. Why do you ask? Let me explain.

"I choose a bike instead of a car, I take care of forests by not leaving any trash there, and what is very popular today - I really put my attention into how I segregate waste. However, I'm learning every day how I can be more eco-friendly and how I can help protect Mother Earth."

The problem of deforestation

Forests currently cover 31% of the landmass on our planet. They help purify water and air, provide people with jobs, and are home to many animals. Over 80% of land-based species live in forests. Even more, they soak up carbon dioxide that otherwise would be floating in the atmosphere and further advance the climate change. Essentially, they are the only thing that protects us from extinction. Unfortunately, we might soon stop enjoying these benefits. The agriculture and poorly planned infrastructure is the cause of massive deforestation.

In short, deforestation is permanently removing trees to replace them with something else. Usually, it's either a palm-oil farm, soy plantation, or wood harvest. When you glance at this, it seems like the issue is not that big. It’s not like the trees are being cut down to put a huge shopping mall or a highway. However, the farms and plantations are used to match the forever-growing human need for food and goods, like lipsticks, shampoos, and multiple other food-related products you can find in the supermarket. Furthermore, there is a whole paper business that mass produces the goods that are in our backpacks, mailboxes, and on the shelves.

It’s not the young trees planted specifically for cutting that is in jeopardy. It’s the old-growth rainforests that are being cut down. The rainforests are essentially the lungs of our planet that hold around 80% of animals, microbes, and other plants. And the problem with the destruction of the old-growth woods is that those are over 500-year-old trees that are taken down. Their ability to absorb carbon dioxide is far greater than the young forests, as with age, their absorption rate accelerates. 

All of the above reasons should be enough to start thinking about how we can contribute to the protection of trees. Elastic Email donates a part of their income to the Ancient Forest Alliance however, not every company has the means to do the same. That’s why in your business as well as personal life, you can start simple - by switching to email.

"I got rid of my car to limit the emission of CO2, now I mostly travel by public transport. Sometimes I buy something more expensive from a local shop instead of buying it cheaper from thousands of miles away. Moving stuff around the globe has a large impact on the environment."

Why email is eco friendly?

Let's talk about email and the environment for a second. It’s important to first address the elephant in the room. Is email truly better than paper? Here are many opinions regarding this subject. Some say that email is, in fact, way better than using paper. Some state that it’s actually worse. According to the various articles, one email equals 4 grams of carbon dioxide emission. Given the number of emails that are sent daily, it ranks up to an impressive amount. However, the paper industry is the fourth largest in producing greenhouse gas, thereby majorly contributing to deforestation and this one seems to slip peoples’ minds.

Now, we can’t deny that emails contribute to some percentage of pollution in our environment. But, we can also say that there are ways to minimize the footprint of email. By cleaning your inbox regularly and updating your spam folder this amount of carbon can be reduced. Sending designated emails only to a specific list instead of mindlessly hitting the “send all” button can also help.

Email is a faster way to communicate with people and a cheaper solution as well. You don’t need to buy stamps, wait in line at the post office, and patiently expect the reply within a week or two. Email happens instantly, and there are no additional charges.

Why email is eco friendly? You can use emails in multiple ways. It can be simply an exchange of messages, as it is meant to be. It can also be your planner, a journal, a notepad, a way to communicate with a loved one, or keep all your documents in one place. Inboxes are evolving to match the various needs of individuals and therefore can be many things at once. The biggest upside of email and the virtual documents is that you can’t lose it. It won’t age, tear or stain, and you can find it in a matter of minutes. And unless you are my mother that has the ability to find literally anything in the house, you probably faced the problem of disappearing documents at some point in your life. 

email and the envrionment

A paper would be indeed a better solution. Granted that you could reuse it many times, guarantee that it would not fade, and assure that every single person on Earth would always recycle. But since this world doesn’t exist as of yet, email truly is a better solution to care for the environment.

Now, you might think that you already implement email within your business, and you are not entirely wrong. You probably already send some emails to your subscribers, using a reliable service provider. However, there are countless ways to further utilize it to improve your email marketing as well as the ecological footprint. These are the top five among others, we found useful:

  1. Send receipts via email, instead of printing them
  2. Don’t spam, but use email wisely, by sending valuable content
  3. Always segment your lists
  4. Actively monitor your engagement and adjust accordingly
  5. Implement the newest technology for clean, lightweight, and modern-looking emails.

To sum up, email helps all three parties to improve. The ecological imprint of email is smaller than with the use of paper which is even better if the company is also using renewable energy to send them. It helps companies and marketers to provide more valuable content faster. With the power of email personalization - send more relevant emails to their subscribers. Finally, the customers themselves don’t need to hassle with paper in their homes. They can access the information at any time, and only receive what they really find interesting.

"We are segregating glass, plastic, and paper. Instead of buyings litres or bottled water, we switched to using water filters. The are more eco-friendly and you can recycle them through manufacturer. We made a conscious decision to reduce our ecological footprint and to be less wasteful."

Why we care

From the start, Elastic Email made a point to care about the environment. By regularly donating to the Ancient Forest Alliance, through the pro-ecological habits of each employee, to the business itself. Creating a user-friendly, powerful, and well-priced tool that makes sending emails a pleasant experience, supporting the environment at the same time. But those are not the only reasons why we care. We care because this Earth is the one that we are living in. It’s our duty, to not only protect it but to also spread awareness about the topic of deforestation and ecology. We believe that every company should make a point to care, and because actions speak louder than words, we are transparent with ours.

Anna Wybieralska

Anna is working as a Content Creator in Elastic Email. An email marketing enthusiast with a millennial approach. She's either writing, buying plants or avoiding social interactions.

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