Stop replying ‘thank you’ for every email received
Stop replying ‘thank you’ for every email received
02 DECEMBER 2019 8:50 AM

New research suggests we should cut down on unnecessary emails, but that might come at the expense of politeness and urgency.

I must say this news came as a shock, and I am still not sure how I am going to handle it.

A top-down email ordering me to not do “it” would help, but that would mean one more email, and probably it would require me to send an “accept” message in reply.

I am talking about unnecessary emails, and their effect on the global carbon footprint and environment.

United Kingdom energy company Ovo posted a blog last week that claims residents of the country send more than 64 million unnecessary emails every day. Further, if every one of the 65 million-odd souls here decided to not send one fewer email each day, the collective action would be to save 16,433 tons of carbon per year, or “81,152 flights to Madrid” from Heathrow.

Those numbers are incredible.

Topping the list of “unnecessary” emails is the simple but wonderful two words, “thank you.”

Here is our quandary, as I have no doubt I am not alone here.

The “thank you” is the greatest single written politeness we have, and it also can act as a confirmation that you have received some information and will act upon it.

The absence of a thank you, and writing “thx” will not save you from committing carbon crime, and would have me think the person I sent an email to is either absent, fired or dead.

Apparently, the energy company has some communication tool you can sign up to that flags such emails, those generally using fewer than four words, and zaps one million volts through your little toe—actually, that’s not true, but they do send some alert (another email?) that reminds you to perhaps think about whether all your electronic correspondence is needed.

Hoteliers presumably will still need to send room-bookings confirmations, or should we just expect guests to take a snapshot of the confirmation as it appears when the booking is competed online?

“Thank you” is indeed the No. 1 “unnecessary” email message sent by Brits—and just think of the untold damage China, India and the U.S. are doing—while “did you get this?” is No. 7, an email that could be avoided if the person the email was received by emailed back and said “thank you,” or at least be offset.

Number 10 on the list is “LOL,” which this emailer will never write and thus never send.

There are adequate opportunities to pay into campaigns to offset your carbon footprint for everything we do—flights, drives, eating meat, the list is lengthy—so perhaps companies can look into doing something along those lines with emails.

Please email this important blog to all your contacts!

Email Terence Baker or find him on Twitter.

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