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Carbon Footprint of 5 Cheeseburgers? Or Mail?

On Sunday, I blogged about research from a U.K. initiative going after large European corporations for greenwashing on the topic of e-billing. As I poked around the site some more, I found three factoids I couldn’t help but pass along. If this doesn’t get you questioning conventional wisdom about print versus e-media, you’re a tough nut.

  • 2% of the UK’s current energy requirement is demanded by data centers today. Roughly the same as the airline industry. [1]
  • One email with a 400k attachment, sent to 20 people, is equivalent to burning a 100w light bulb for 30 minutes. [2]
  • Industry research indicates that mail comprises 0.1% of total household CO2 emissions in Europe. The 14 kg of CO2 emitted is the equivalent of five cheeseburgers. [3]

Data are always debatable, of course, but the points made here are powerful — and certainly a lot of fun to talk about.

[1] BBC, “Costing the Earth: Global Warming,” April 2009
[2] BBC, “Costing the Earth: Global Warming,” April 2009
[3] CEPI Sustainability Report (2009)

Image courtesy of The Stock Exchange (uploaded by lockstockb)

Written by Heidi Tolliver-Walker

Heidi Tolliver-Walker has been a commercial and digital printing industry analyst, feature writer, columnist, editor, and author for nearly 20 years. She is known for her meticulous research and no-nonsense perspective. In addition to having written thousands of industry articles for top industry publications, she and Richard Romano have been the face of the well-respected industry research firm The Industry Measure (TrendWatch Graphic Arts) for many years. In her more than 13-year tenure with the firm, she has written countless reports on digital printing, 1:1 (personalized) printing, Web-to-print, personalized URLs, and other hot industry applications. She is also a long-time contributing editor and columnist for Printing News, for which she writes two monthly columns, including "Personal Effects," which features monthly analysis of 1:1 (personalized) printing case studies. She is also the author of three titles for the National Association of Printing Leadership: Designer's Printing Companion, Ink & Color: A Printer's Guide, and Diversifying Via Value-Added Services. As a small, niche publisher (Strong Tower Publishing), she is active in utilizing these technologies in her own business, as well.

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