There are now over 5 billion internet users worldwide, suggesting that society continues to reduce its usage of valuable resources and is progressing towards a greener society. However, that might not be the case.
Digitalization does not equal being carbon neutral, since this process requires energy and can significantly contribute to environmental pollution. A single search on the internet consumes about 0.3Wh of energy, contributing to about 0.2g of carbon emissions.
It may not seem much, but considering the number of people who surf the internet every day, that meager contribution can lead to a daily amount of up to 2,330,041 tons of carbon emissions and 2,339,400 MWh of electricity consumption.
These concerning figures indicate the need for more sustainable IT solutions. For many businesses, that means creating a green website to reduce their carbon footprints.
Here are six things companies and website owners can do to minimize their site’s contribution to carbon emissions.
Estimate Your Website’s Carbon Footprint
Every interaction on a site — whether that’s browsing on the homepage, reading a 3-minute article, clicking on an image, or watching a video — results in energy consumption both on the host side and the visitor side. So, the first thing website owners need to do to make it more sustainable is to know their website’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Getting this estimate allows them to obtain a detailed analysis of their site’s impact on the environment, which website owners can use as a guide to making it more sustainable and user-friendly.
There are loads of carbon calculators online that website owners can use. Most of these tools are free and provide general results, though some may also deliver a more in-depth analysis upon request.
Clean Up The Website
Using the carbon emissions analysis of the website, owners can determine the things they need to remove and how to restructure their site to make it leaner. Delete irrelevant resources that no longer serve their purpose, are out of date, or are simply ineffective when it comes to driving traffic to the website.
Keeping the site’s code clean, avoiding duplication, and keeping it free of unnecessary plug-ins prevent the website from becoming bloated and carrying unwanted data. It’s best to implement these strategies during the early phase of website development or restructuring.
Decluttering a business website will not only make it more sustainable, but it can also improve its performance. Additionally, less clutter allows for easier navigation for users — which means less energy consumption for both sides.
Reassess Media Content
Having visual content like images and videos is important for websites to easily convey their messages to visitors. However, the sizes of these elements can significantly contribute to a page’s performance and energy consumption.
The more images and videos a website has, the more data it needs to transfer. That means more energy is used to move that data from the website’s server to the end user.
Website owners can remedy this by compressing media content to reduce their weight. They can also avoid hosting videos on the site completely and use embedded links from video-sharing sites like YouTube instead.
Switch to A Green Host
Moving to a green hosting provider allows you to make a significant step towards creating a more eco-friendly website. The servers used for these hosting services run on sustainable energy, resulting in lower carbon emissions.
Its use of renewable power also makes green hosting a more cost-effective choice compared to standard web hosting plans. Even with its affordable price tag, a green hosting plan still provides a web hosting package that is just as comprehensive and fully optimized as any other conventional option.
Consider Using CDNs and Caching
Using a content delivery network (CDN) and caching speeds up loading for website content, thereby reducing the energy needed for transferring data from the server to the visitor’s device. This faster loading speed also provides a more efficient website experience for users.
Although their benefits are nearly identical, there is a stark difference between using a CDN and caching data. A CDN is a network of servers located across many regions and helps content load more quickly by delivering it from a server close to the visitor.
On the other hand, caching is a process in which online data is stored in a cache or temporary storage in a user’s device to make it easier and faster to load website data.
Offset Carbon Emissions
Aside from changes on their websites, businesses can also adopt a more tangible strategy to reduce their carbon emissions: offsetting. This option is done by purchasing a carbon credit to compensate for the greenhouse gas that an organization emits through its operations. In this case, it’s the use of a business website.
The money collected from this strategy is used to fund sustainable action to prevent or remove carbon from the air. However, note that offsetting should be done in conjunction with other carbon-reducing plans, as it’s merely an additional step towards lowering emissions.
When someone says the world needs to address climate change, people immediately think about reducing carbon intensity in big industries like automation, forestry, agriculture, and shipping. Rarely do they consider other contributors like internet usage and processing of digital data.
As the use of technology continues to grow, so does its contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. That’s why businesses, website owners, and web developers must undertake effective policies in reducing their digital carbon footprint.
The strategies listed above are just the starting point they can use as they take the first steps towards making a more sustainable website and fulfilling their duty of protecting the world’s environment.
About the Author
Bash Sarmiento is a writer and an educator from Manila. He writes laconic pieces in the education, lifestyle and health realms. His academic background and extensive experience in teaching, textbook evaluation, business management and travelling are translated in his works.
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