We revealed the environmental impact of hoarded emails

A self-initiated project. Thanks In Advance, our low-energy website, is our latest self-initiated project that uncovers the collective environmental cost of our cluttered inboxes.

The cost of our cluttered inboxes. All our digital files are saved on physical servers in data centres that constantly require energy to run. It’s a complex topic but we decided to focus on our cluttered inboxes as a tangible and relatable introduction to the wider issue.

Thanks In Advance is a low-energy website that sheds light on the everyday activity of deleting emails. Whilst we appreciate the carbon cost of a single email inbox is small, our ambition is to show the real change we can collectively make by shifting our digital habits.

Low-energy design. With energy consumption and carbon emissions at the heart of Thanks In Advance, we thought it only right to design the website to be as low-energy as possible.

Each creative decision was made with this in mind, resulting in Thanks In Advance being at least 97% greener than all other websites, whilst still maintaining a unique and considered look and feel, and an engaging user experience.

To achieve this we used a high contrast, low-energy colour palette which minimises the energy draw a device needs to display the website. We collaborated with Jose Flores, an illustrator based in the Dominican Republic, to craft a series of beautiful illustrations using this colouration. The illustrations were delivered as Scalable Vector Graphics (SVGS), which means they are written and animated through data-points and code. This removes the need to host additional files and creates a dynamic one page website, steering away from heavy backend services.

We also worked with Dan Powell, who developed and coded the website in the most environmentally friendly way. We used clean and simple code and the site is hosted on a green provider that uses 100% renewable energy. As a result, thanks-in-advance.com is only 36kB in size.

Reducing our digital footprint. From deleting emails, to finding new sustainable ways of creating websites, Thanks In Advance is the beginning of a much bigger conversation. We all have a digital footprint, and if we can individually start to make small changes, we'll collectively see big results.

You can learn more by visiting thanks-in-advance.com or our spreadsheet full of learnings and research.