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I always see this in email footers:

"Save paper, consider the environment, do you really need to print this email?"

It got me thinking. Adding this surely has some cost to the planet, eg.:

  • Extra bytes to shuffle over the network
  • More battery drain on mobiles syncing emails
  • Increased data storage required by mail servers
  • etc.

Do you think the added cost to the planet is greater than the resources saved by the few that actually choose not to print the email solely because they read the footer message?

UPDATE: see my comments to Joe's answer below for a killer added cost that'll probably kill the planet.

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    I'm going to assume you are young (<30). Some older people print emails considerably more often... – enderland Aug 28 '13 at 11:38
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    I think it is a useless thing to have on a footer. It is an example of something done to make you feel good that you are "Saving the environment" when actually you are not accomplishing anything. It is like those support the troops pics you see on Facebook. How does sharing that actually support the troops? Sending them care pacakages supports the troops, telling your politcians not to cut their benefits supports the troops, babysitting their children when they are on deplyment supports the troops, sending a picture does not, nor does it help the enviroment to put a footer on your email. – HLGEM Aug 28 '13 at 14:25
  • Please put your edit into the question instead of referring to comments in another place. – Deer Hunter Aug 28 '13 at 16:35
  • Almost no added cost. But it makes you sound like passive aggressive, and will cause waste when some geezer prints it anyway because he just can't read on a screen. – Formagella Dec 7 '14 at 12:40
  • I print or print not as I feel like. This does nothing. – Joshua May 6 '17 at 2:55
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Do you think the added cost to the planet is greater than the resources saved by the few that actually choose not to print the email solely because they read the footer message?

There's little to no added cost for an additional line on an email. So the "added cost to the planet" is probably not greater.

That said, I think the biggest benefit to adding this phrase accrues to the sender - making her/him feel better about themselves. I doubt this phrase actually convinces anyone to avoid printing the email who would otherwise print it.

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    Ahh, I just thought of another significant cost to the planet introduced when adding this line... The case when this line causes the printout to wrap onto another page! Assuming an average 50 lines per page (I made that up) the line could cause 1/50 prints to have an extra page, or in other words, a 2% increase in enviro-damage. Shocking. I for one will start adding "Have you considered not adding unnecessary lines to email footers to save paper when printed?". Catchy. – matt burns Aug 28 '13 at 14:29

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