I keep seeing this sage advice at the bottom of emails. Do people honestly do this? Am I badly out of touch, or would other people also consider that even thinking about printing out email a mind-numbingly silly thing to do?
It got me wondering how much paper I’ve saved by not even thinking about printing my emails this year. Since I started using GMail (in September 2004), I have archived 9,687 emails, or about 12 per day. Those are the good ones. I actually ignored a further 1,994 unread spam just in the last 30 days, but let’s discount them.
12 personal emails per day, and my work email account is at least twice that busy as well, so let’s conservatively say I get an average 36 non-junk emails per day. I have not idea if this is close. It’s probably an under-estimate. I reckon an average email could be conveniently printed on one page. Actually, repeatedly printing threaded conversations would get annoying, but maybe I’d print off the new bit and add it to the pile for that conversation. Even thinking about this is making me feel sick the the mess it would generate.
Since my imaginary black and white laser printer (because you’re mad if you think I’m buying ink cartridges for this) doesn’t do duplex, I reckon I’d need at least 12,816 A4 sheets per year. That’s more than 25 reams of paper. No thank you.
Update: most amused to see that the idea of printing every email was actually GMail’s april fools prank this year.
By the way: using a mail footer which reminds people about wastefully printing out email is just one of fifty way to ‘change the world for a fiver‘ (a cool book which is also available directly from the publisher’s shop).