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Being Mindful of the Environmental Impact of Big Websites

These days, most of us are environmentally conscious, putting thought into our electricity and water use, and recycling every week. When we think about the internet, it’s easy to imagine our browsing habits in abstract, after all, surely the footprint of a YouTube binge can’t be much? Truth be told, hosting the content we love and even browsing online do come at an environmental cost. Even if we can’t see the servers that we access, they certainly exist, and require power to run!

There are a lot of internet users in the world today and the reality is that contemporary digital technologies are responsible for around 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The data centres that house everything that we access online can be compared to the pre-COVID-19 aviation industry, in terms of environmental impact. Now, a big tech industry push is under way to reduce the impact of all that data flying around. Facebook have invested in this mission and Google are harnessing AI to optimise their energy use. Even NASA is busy implementing green computing solutions.

But, for everyday businesses like yours and ours, there are things to be aware of and simple steps that we can take that can also make a big difference. If every company did their best to shrink their digital carbon footprint, we would be making great strides. Slimming down the size of your website and optimising your load speeds will do more than simply keep your customers happy, it is good for the environment too. Read on to discover how you can banish website bloat and keep your site on the green side!

What Are Data Centres?

You can grab your smartphone, jump online, and visit any website you want to, 24 hours a day. What makes this modern miracle possible is a digital connection to data centres. These are the homes of servers that collectively host all things virtual. Some data centres are small, while others are vast; what they all have in common is that they are always running, and all those servers generate a whole lot of heat. In fact, AC units are usually necessary to keep server rooms or “farms” cool, unless they happen to be housed in Antarctica, like the data centre at the Ice Cube Neutrino Observatory! There are around 8 million data centres worldwide, hosting websites just like yours, so as you can imagine that means a hefty price tag in terms of temperature regulation.

What You Can Do

Technological advances are gradually making data centres greener, but there is still a way to go before our web use becomes truly low impact. Happily, we can recommend a few really simple tactics that you can adopt right away to make your website more eco-friendly. The place to start is making sure that all the images and videos on your site are optimised, shrinking those file sizes. Smaller files mean less space taken up on host servers. You can also remove any old or unnecessary images and files from your online library. If you don’t need it, there’s no need to store it!

Lastly, you can enlist some help to optimise the CSS on your site and make sure it is not getting bogged down with clunky script that is creating much more work for your host servers than ultimately serves you. In this, and in fact in all of these areas, it is also important to recognise that even the most stubborn of climate change sceptics should be taking these steps!

More Than One Motivation

As with so many things that are good for the environment, there are usually benefits that trickle out and reward us in other areas. It is no secret that website speed is a vital target for businesses that want to thrive in the virtual realm. The average online visitor has no patience for lagging sites and will likely leave if your pages take too long to load. According to Pingdom, if your site takes more than five seconds to load, 38% of visitors will give up and go elsewhere. Giving website bloat the boot really does make sense on every level.

So, there you have it. Whether you are keen to reduce your carbon footprint or simply an entrepreneur paving a path to success, streamlining your website is win-win in just about every sense. By keeping the footprint of your site hosting in mind, you can safeguard nature, while presenting your business at its digital best. For us here at Teapot Creative, having a positive impact on the world as well as our customers is a big part of our picture. Check out how we make a difference through B1G1 and our Social Impact manifesto.

If you would like help transforming your website into a leaner and greener version of itself, contact us today to explore how our team can help you to make a difference!

About Beth

My role at Teapot is create all things digital (and to drink copious amounts of tea…). While I mostly work with websites I also design all online assets and emailer templates – anything you need to boost your online presence!

Give us a call on 01460 281865 or email us to see how we can help you!