Sustainability is quickly becoming an important talking point in all facets of business. Whether it’s revolving around how we procure our energy – fossil fuels vs renewable energy – or how we travel – combustion engine cars vs electric battery cars – a greener, sustainable future is on the horizon.
What is certain is that if we are to succeed in heading towards a sustainable future, each and every industry needs to do its part and combating climate change and reducing their impact on the environment from an emissions point of view.
The internet may seem like a clean and unimpactful industry but it in fact contributes two percent of global carbon emissions, equivalent to that of the aviation industry. The internet is an energy hungry monster that consumes around 416TWh of electricity per year which is more than the entire United Kingdom! This number will no doubt continue to grow as more people gain access to the web, more companies go digital and as more data requires storage.
For these reasons, its easy to see why measures need to be taken to ensure sustainable practices are being put in place to combat the impact that the web is having on the environment.
You might be thinking to yourself though – what’s in it for me? Why should I have to spend time and money making my website greener and more sustainable. Well, here are a few reasons why.
1. Do it for the planet and future generations
It’s a selfless act making positive change in order for future generations to have a better planet. The choices and changes that you make now will directly influence how you, your children and their children live for years to come.
2. Customers will love you
Consumers are hyper aware of climate change and the state that our planet is in. More and more people are critically assessing their purchasing decisions to ensure that they are doing what’s best for the environment and planet. Incredibly, a massive 81% of global consumers feel strongly that companies and businesses should be helping to improve the environment and take steps to reduce their impact. These same consumers are seeking out which companies are making a positive difference and lending their loyalty to them. On top of this, by actively pursuing a greener business, you are only creating more marketing collateral and a point of difference from your competition that could do wonders for your growth.
3. Improving your bottom line
By undertaking the steps towards a sustainable website, businesses may experience an improvement in their overall online delivery to customers which in turn can translate into improved performance and profitability. A website that is more efficient, focuses on its core offering and cleverly markets itself as a sustainable website may indeed improve the overall success as a business.
So what are some ways that you can improve the sustainability of your website and steer your business towards a greener, positive future?
1. Green Hosting
Simply put, a hosting provider offers the service of publishing website files onto the internet, thereby giving individuals and organizations accessibility to the world wide web. This process may not sound energy intensive, but when you take into account that there are approximately 1.7 billion active websites, with around 500,000 new websites coming online each day, the amount of energy consumed to host these webpages is staggering.
Green hosting is an area that can significantly increase the sustainability of a website. It works by hosting providers using renewable energy which drastically reduces their impact on the environment through the cutback in greenhouse emissions.
It might be worth seeing how your hosting provider stacks up and whether they are using renewable energy. Here is a list of the best green hosting providers should you be looking to switch providers or currently undergoing a website build.
2. Quality Foundational Web Design
The average size of a webpage today is 2038.4kb, an almost fivefold increase from ten years ago. What this tells us is that websites have become data monsters due to their increased functionality and aesthetic qualities. In order to achieve a sustainable website, its foundations need to be built efficiently. This is where effective coding practices are implemented for websites that don’t require a CMS. Those that do require a CMS, like that of WordPress, can use themes that offer exactly what the website necessitates or better yet, have a web developer like us write you a custom, sustainable theme.
Implementing sustainable foundational web design practices will make a massive difference in the energy required to run and manage a website yet still maintain the professional site qualities that a data heavy website delivers.
3. Sitemap & Navigation Efficiency
We have written before in a previous blog – Sitemap and Navigation That Can Help Drive Sales – as to the importance of a website having an excellent sitemap and navigation capabilities in order to drive sales. By making information easier, websites will reduce the amount of time that users spend on their website and therefore lower the amount of energy consumed by devices.
Sitemap & navigation efficiency means that you not only are making a positive environmental impact but also improving the overall functionality of your website which your users will appreciate!
4. Performance & Optimisation
A faster website is not only important from the user experience point of view but can also significantly impact the sustainability of your website. What it comes down to is the finetuning that occurs on the backend of a website, especially around aspects such as themes, plugins and overall configuration. SustyWP, is a great example of a website that has achieved significant results in reducing its carbon footprint whilst still maintaining an excellent WordPress website. Susty’s homepage delivers a meager 6KB of data transfer through efficient themes and plugins which is incredible considering the average website data transfer for a homepage is 2.3MB, or in other words, 393 times bigger! Assessing your website and making changes to just a couple of your pages can make a huge difference to how much data and energy it uses.
5. Eco-Friendly Web Design
The overall design of a website plays a large part in its overall sustainability. A complicated design with various, unnecessary elements consumes far more energy than a site with a smart effective design. Elements like images, videos, animations and coding all have a bearing on the energy consumption of a website so be mindful and always remember – less is more!
6. Carbon Offset Your Website
If you feel you have done as much as you can in terms of owning a sustainable, green website but still falling short of net zero carbon emissions, then a great way to achieve this is by offsetting your emissions. One of the most common ways of achieving this is through the planting of trees and revegetation of forests which you can do through a number of accredited organizations such as ecologi, Greenfleet or Greening Australia.
In the scheme of things, creating a more sustainability focused website isn’t as monumental a task as other business sectors need to take. In fact, with some basic backend changes and investigating a greener host, you could probably halve your emissions in the space of an afternoon!
Want to know what your websites carbon footprint is? Head to websitecarbon.com for a complete analysis. If you’re interested, here’s how our website stacks up!