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Green Up Your E-mail

  |  July 9, 2008   |  Comments

Three ways to make e-mail more environmentally friendly.

Of all your B2B marketing efforts, e-mail seemingly has the least environmental impact.

But sending all those messages electronically hasn't led to a paperless office. The more we use computers and printers, the more paper and energy we consume. How many times each day do you print an e-mail to read later offline or to keep a paper copy "just in case?"

Most people assume global warming is caused by burning oil and gas. In fact, between 25 and 30 percent of the greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere each year -- 1.6 billion tons -- are caused by deforestation.

When you add the gas and oil we use by running computers to read e-mail -- and to check it constantly on our BlackBerry devices -- you can see that e-mail isn't all that environmentally benign.

With Earth Day coming up on Sunday, here are some ways to make your e-mail a little greener.

  • Print less with GreenPrint: When you print e-mail and Web pages, there's usually one useless sheet at the end, the one with the unsubscribe message, your e-mail provider's logo, legal disclaimers, etc.

    You can eliminate printing unnecessary pages by installing GreenPrint. The software previews the document and highlights potentially unnecessary pages for removal. If you agree a page isn't needed, it won't be printed. It works with Word or any other program.

    Walter Mossberg favorably reviewed GreenPrint in the "Wall Street Journal,", and Gartner named it a Cool Vendor, quite a coup for a new company.

    GreenPrint provides reports on how much ink, paper, and money you save. In the few months I've used GreenPrint, I saved 127 sheets of paper (worth $3.17), and $4.45 worth of ink, according to the report. Not a huge savings, but for large users, the amount can be substantial.
  • Unplug your BlackBerry: Checking e-mail from a BlackBerry seems environmentally neutral, as no paper's involved. But did you know chargers for BlackBerry, cell phone, and handheld games can consume 10 percent of the electricity in your house?

    I discovered this while working on the Polar Bear S.O.S. campaign for the Natural Resources Defense Council. Polar bears were one of the first major species to be victims of global warming. In reading about their plight and wondering what the average person could do, a light bulb went off in my head (compact fluorescent, of course!). The idea is stickers to put on your chargers with the words, "Unplug for Polar Bears." You can order these free stickers online. While there, consider making a donation!
  • Recycle old electronics: Consumer electronics products contain thousands of substances, some of which are hazardous to human and environmental health. If old equipment isn't properly recycled, they can seep into air, soil, and water. Everyone should make an effort to learn more about how to recycle her devices.

    And if you happen to live near my hometown of Brooklyn, you can recycle your electronics this Saturday, April 21 at the Park Slope Eco Fair. I'm not ready to recycle my BlackBerry yet, but I just packed up an old color printer to bring over. Perhaps I'll see you there.

Know of other ways to make B2B e-mail practices greener? Send them to Karen.

Karen is off this week. Today's column ran earlier on ClickZ.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Karen Gedney

Karen Gedney, an award-winning creative director and copywriter, shared her insights as a ClickZ Experts contributor from 2000 through 2009. She was known for her successful track record of achieving high e-mail response rates for Fortune 1000 companies and leading organizations. She died Nov. 16, 2010.

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