Digital cleanup of your email, website and cloud

13 Mar 2024 | entrepreneurship, web design

Did you know that you also have an ecological footprint digitally? This can be quite large for a person or company. Why is that? How can you reduce them? Read this article and join the digital cleanup of your email, website and cloud!

The digital carbon footprint is still a distant concept for many people. Not incomprehensible, since we almost all work paperless these days. In that area, we are doing well. Yet we sometimes forget that our digital activities also leave their mark.

What is a digital ecological footprint?

Every digital activity requires electricity. Think: sending an e-mail, charging your smartphone, editing your photos, storing your documents in the cloud, banking online, scrolling across your social media timeline, editing something on your website, and so on.

Not only your laptop and phone consume power, but also your cloud, emails or website are on a server that runs on electricity. And this is an important point: the more files there are on your website or in your cloud, the more energy it takes to keep your photos and documents online. The same goes for your emails and for what’s on your website.

Is a digital ecological footprint a problem?

No, not in itself. Because more and more servers are running on green energy. For example, nowadays you have more and more hosting parties that choose servers that run on green electricity, such as Siteground or Combell.

It can become problematic, though, if you leave many unused files in your mail program or cloud or on your website. In this way, you unknowingly, i.e. inadvertently, have a very large digital ecological footprint. To raise this awareness, environmental organization Let’s Do It World the annual Digital Cleanup Day. This year, that day falls on March 16, 2024.

How can you reduce your digital ecological footprint?

This is something you can do in a simple way: you go through all your emails, your website backend and your cloud critically. Below you can find suggestions for concrete actions.

Some companies are very sustainable, which can be called impact entrepreneurs or changemakers. Read here all about doing business with impact.

Digital cleanup action: cleaning up your e-mail

Whether you use an e-mail program or a web server, the following actions can already make a big difference:

  1. Delete old emails: do you no longer need certain messages? Feel free to remove them. Please note: in the European Union, it is recommended that business and official emails be retained for 5 to 7 years in some cases. Want to know your exact retention period? If so, check with a legal specialist.
  2. Delete out-of-office emails: everyone goes on vacation sometime and then sets up an automatic out of office message. Mail programs often save such messages as well. Deleting your own out of office messages already creates a lot of space in your mailbox. Thus, you are already going to use less energy.
  3. Email signature customization: are you an entrepreneur? Chances are you have an email signature. Very professional to include a logo or photo, but make sure it is optimized and a lightweight. Is it heavier than 50 kb? Time to shrink the file. This ensures that in the future you will have more space on your server and use less energy.
  4. Delete heavy attachments: you can also consider this, but also keep in mind the official retention period.
  5. Unsubscribing from newsletters: receive a lot of newsletters you don’t read? Time to unsubscribe!

Digital cleanup action: cleaning up your website

As an entrepreneur, are you very active with your website? Fantastic, but before you know it, it has become very large with all the images, pages, photos and other files you no longer use. You can easily get started with this as well:

  1. Delete unused pages: do you still have pages on the corona measures? Remove them, that period is long behind us. A tip: set up a redirection before deleting them. For WordPress users: this can be done through the free plugin Redirection. This way you make sure that your visitors, who go to your deleted page, are redirected to another page, such as your homepage. This way, you won’t be penalized by a search engine like Google, because the algorithm of search engines sometimes tends to penalize websites where pages disappear. So via a redirection, you can prevent this.
  2. Removing non-relevant blogs: has your company changed direction? Then you might have irrelevant blogs about services you no longer offer. You may want to consider removing them. Tip: Again, use the redirection mentioned above.
  3. Cleaning up the media library: delete a photo on the front end of your WordPress site? Then you don’t see it anymore, but it’s still in your media library. If you really want to delete photos, do so in the media library. The same goes for PDFs and other media files. Take a critical look at your media library: with any luck, you can delete hundreds of files. Not only better for the environment, but also good for the loading speed of your site!

Want to know more about deleting files in bulk from your website? Learn how to remove dozens of files from your website at once!

Digital cleanup action: cleaning up your cloud

Many businesses and private individuals use a cloud, such as Google’s. The examples below also apply to other clouds:

  1. Cleaning up your media gallery: look in your cloud at the photos folder. Old photos, which you no longer need, can be deleted. Failed photos too. You may even have copies of media files, which is another reason to delete them. By the way, think not only about your photos, but also your videos, audio files, gifs, stickers and documents. Overflow folder by folder critical. Done removing? Then go to the trash and delete everything permanently. Before you know it, your cloud is a few gigabytes lighter!
  2. Delete old backups: through Google, you can have some devices backed up. Super convenient, but what if you also have that from a phone you no longer use? Just delete it because this will also save you several GB.
  3. Ask yourself if you really need a cloud: for example, are you a professional photographer? Then ask yourself if you really need a cloud for your RAW files and high-resolution files. Maybe it’s more environmentally friendly to put it on external hard drives the old-fashioned way anyway. If you make that move, make sure you have multiple backups of your hard drives.

Did you know that sustainable websites actually exist? Read here how I as a web designer make my own website sustainable.


Many entrepreneurs today are working paperless and therefore need a lot of digital space in the online world. Still, you certainly don’t have to keep everything. Emails, files on your website and things in the cloud can certainly be critically scrutinized and deleted every so often. This way you need less space on a server and therefore less energy to keep your redundant files online!

Are you participating in the digital cleanup?

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About Jochem

I am Jochem Oomen, web designer and photographer. My goal is to help sustainable entrepreneurs, organizations and schools gain more customers, participants or students. I do this through sustainable web design and minimalist photography. Read more about me here.

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