World's first digital vacuum cleaner cleans the dust from your personal cloud

Stormtrooper vacuuming
CC BY 2.0 JD Hancock

One of the world's largest appliance companies has been cleaning our homes for over 100 years. Now it wants to help clean your second home with the World Wide Vac.

When it comes to decreasing our environmental footprint, the most visible and obvious green actions get the highest priority, with good reason, as cutting back on the miles driven or the energy or water used every day are effective ways to reduce our impact. Those actions relate directly to physical things in the world that we can see and touch and feel, and are also fairly easy to measure and set personal goals and guidelines for.

However, there are other, not so visible or obvious, areas where we can cut our carbon footprint, but we often aren't even aware of them because we're not directly responsible for them. That's the case with how we use what more and more of us are depend on as our second home, the internet and our personal cloud. All of those free services that store our data online for us, from our pictures to our social media accounts to our email accounts, require energy to maintain, which generates carbon emissions, none of which we ever have to account for or see.

According to a new project from Electrolux, a single email is responsible for about 4 grams of CO2 in its lifetime, which is quite small in and of itself when compared to the 14 pounds of CO2 per gallon of gasoline, and the average American household's yearly carbon footprint of about 48 tons. But if your inboxes are anything like mine, that 4 grams per email gets multiplied by at least a thousand, due to the lazy way I use email as storage, and when multiplied by the billions of other internet users, can add up to quite a bit of carbon emissions.

To help clean up the digital dust in our inboxes, and reduce the associated CO2 emissions, Electrolux just launched the world's first digital vacuum cleaner, which promises to help analyze and clean our personal clouds.

The World Wide Vac is a free web app that connects to your Gmail account, and uses an algorithm to determine which emails in your inbox are no longer relevant, are spam or promotional in nature, or are otherwise unwanted. The tool, which claims to not save any of the data or personal info from your inbox, then allows you to choose the level of cleaning for that inbox, and after cleaning, the tool calculates your personal emissions savings based on the deleted items.

Yes, this is part of a promotional campaign for Electrolux' new UltraFlex vacuum, the actual carbon emissions savings from cleaning up your inbox aren't that large when compared to making other lifestyle changes, and you can clean out your email inboxes and other personal clouds manually to achieve the same effect (while also unsubscribing from those emails you don't ever read anyway).

But if you've always wanted to be able to have a virtual vacuum cleaner suck the dirt and dust from your inbox, and learn how much CO2 your digital communications are responsible, then the World Wide Vac is the tool for you.

Related Content on