How To Reduce the Carbon Footprint of Your Website For a Greener Society

Every action we take online produces a carbon footprint, know how to reduce the carbon footprint of your website for a greener society

Updated on September 2, 2022
How To Reduce the Carbon Footprint of Your Website For a Greener Society

Most of us don’t think about the carbon footprint of our online activities. After all, it’s probably the least of our worries while watching funny videos on social media or surfing the web to buy new clothes. Check out how to reduce your website’s carbon footprint for a greener society.

However, every action we take online produces a carbon footprint, no matter how insignificant that action appears to be. Digital technology and the Internet are major players in pollution as they consume a lot of electricity. So, take just a look at some of these amazing stats:

  • Digital technologies account for about 4% of greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Digital technology energy consumption is increasing by 9% each year.

And as you can see, the Internet and digital technologies have drawbacks, great as they are. And if you own a website – big or small – you also leave a carbon footprint that pollutes the environment. This is a serious charge, but we are also guilty of it.

Where Does Your Website Carbon Footprint Come From?

Every interaction on your site

As mentioned above, all online actions, including all interactions with your website, result in electricity use. So, this energy usage applies to both your website and your website visitor.

For example, whenever someone visits your website, their browser has to make an HTTP request to your server asking for information. Moreover, your server needs to respond to this request and return the necessary information. Therefore, your server must expend a small amount of energy whenever this happens to complete the request. But on the other hand, the browser also needs the power to process data and present the page to the visitor.

While the energy required to complete a request like this is minute, when you consider every interaction on a site and every site on the Internet, it’s not so thorough anymore. In addition, the heavier and more complex your webpage is, the more energy it takes to send and process data.

The host’s side

You know your website needs a hosting provider to host your server and store your website files and data. But how does the host do this? Store all this information on computers in large data centers.

In these data centers, thousands of computers process data, and large, complex cooling solutions run 24/7 to keep computers cool. All of these require electricity to function. As a result, data centers leave a huge website carbon footprint.

And not all data centers are the same when it comes to energy consumption. There are many factors to consider, from the size of the center to the technology used and the infrastructure installed. As a result, some people use more energy and cause more pollution than others.

Also, hosting companies have other environmental impacts besides energy consumption. Think about the waste from your equipment and the website carbon footprint of your business operations – from traveling to business meetings to preparing food for your employees.

Don’t forget about bot traffic

We write about bot traffic and the environmental impacts it has. Similar to when a visitor enters your website, bots also make requests to your server, which need to be processed. Regarding the environmental impact, it makes no difference whether a ‘good’ bot or a ‘bad’ bot enters your site.

We cannot estimate the total energy consumption of bot activities. But consider that bot traffic represents over 40% of total internet traffic in 2022; this is not small.

Best Ideas to Reduce Website’s Carbon Footprint & Conquer a Greener Society

As web professionals, there are many things you can do to minimize your website’s carbon footprint for a greener society. This includes reducing data transfer. And some of these suggestions may have minimal effect. But remember this, every little thing we do and every effort we make will get us closer to the goal of zero net carbon emissions.

Choose a green host to reduce your website’s carbon footprint

If you are concerned about your environmental impact, look for a “green” hosting provider. Green hosting providers are companies that use energy-efficient data centers and are committed to using green energy sources.

You can search for one or check your host in The Green Web Foundation directory. The site lists over 500 hosting providers worldwide that have a tangible commitment to using green energy in their data centers. 

Reduce the dimensions of your pics and videos

Images are the largest contributor to page authority on most websites. However, the more images you use, the larger those image files are, the more data is transferred, and the more energy consumed.

You don’t need sharp images, a few MB in size. They have to be sharp enough for people to be able to tell what’s inside. Also, heavy images are what cause pages to load slowly, which is a poor experience for your visitors. Pages that load slowly are also bad for SEO. Export images in the correct size and format, and use tools or plugins to compress them to reduce their weight.

The same is true for in-page videos and self-hosted videos, although you can’t use a plugin to compress them. Instead, you should compress the video before uploading it to your website. Or rather, avoid hosting videos on your website and use embedded links from video hosting platforms like Wistia or Youtube. You can reduce your streaming video data usage by removing autoplay and keeping the video content short. Video autoplay is hard to optimize anyway.

Making your website technically lean to reduce carbon footprint

A technically lean and also clean website benefits both users and the environment. Keep your code clean and simple, avoiding duplication. Also, avoid installing unnecessary plugins that add bloat to your site and avoid using plugins that add excessive weight.

If you are running a WordPress site, you can also use plugins to compress and clean HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files. These plugins do not change your code; they remove unnecessary things like redundant spacing or bring lines of code to the same line instead of spreading them across multiple lines. Doing so just reduces the size of these files a little bit. But you know the business, every effort matters!

Using CDN

A content material shipping community (CDN) is a community of servers in exclusive geographical locations. They work together to make content load faster by serving it in a location close to your visitors.

Much of your site’s content is static – such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and image files – that remains the same for all users. CDNs work with a copy of these files on each of their servers on the network. Therefore, when a user enters your site, these files are served from a local server instead of the origin server. 

This means the data doesn’t have to travel as far, helping your site to load faster. In addition, the fast-loading website is more attractive to users, which avoids a scenario where the user asks to load the page just by clicking the back button, wasting energy already used in the data transfer process.

Not to mention that splitting images via CDN is a great option for reducing image file size. Many CDNs offer a variety of image conversion methods, including image size, pixel density, format, and compression conversions. For example, a CDN can serve user images in WebP format. It offers the same compression quality as JPEG but with much smaller file sizes.

Block bots to reduce unnecessary non-human traffic on your website

As mentioned above, bot traffic makes up a large portion of internet traffic. Identify bots of no value to you and block them from your website. You can save energy if they ask your server but tell it not to answer them. You can block malicious bots by checking logs for Sines, commercial bots, SEO bots, and more. If they support the crawl delay directive in robots.txt, set a crawl delay for them to limit unnecessary crawls.

Plan a few bushes to offset your website’s carbon footprint

Last but not least, it’s always a good idea to plant trees to offset some of your website’s carbon footprint for a greener society. When it comes to reducing carbon emissions, trees are our best friends. They take in carbon dioxide and produce oxygen to breathe. Also, planting trees is a way to give back to the community where the company/business is located. A green-looking neighborhood/community is always a beautiful sight.

3 Simple Steps To Reduce A Website Carbon Footprint Emissions For A Greener Society

We now understand that there is concrete, often simple actions we can take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the sites we operate.

  • Benchmark our website’s carbon emissions.
  • Reduce facts throughput via way of means of lowering web page weight and needless web page views.
  • Switch to a web host that runs on renewable energy.

If you follow all these steps, you can create a clean power grid that transforms the industry and reduces emissions in line with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. Best of all, by doing this, we can provide our users with an enhanced experience, which helps us make more impact online and get a better return on our investment. A low-carbon web is a real win-win for website owners, web users, and the environment.

Final Thoughts

It isn’t an exaggeration to say that the whole world is in a race against time. The longer it takes to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, the more damage we do to our precious environment. Therefore, every effort and contribution in this game will matter over time, no matter how small. So, web professionals and internet users, let’s unite and do what we can to help save the planet we call home!