How to Reduce Your Website’s Carbon Footprint

Everything seems to have a carbon footprint these days — even your website. The internet accounts for almost as much carbon emission as the aviation industry does — maybe even more in years to come. But you can actively ensure your website is part of the solution, not the problem by reducing your site’s carbon footprint — in addition to ensuring it’s eco-friendly to begin with.

What is a carbon footprint?

A carbon footprint is the amount of greenhouse gas emissions (typically carbon dioxide and methane) released into the air as a result of activity done by a particular person, company, organization, industry etc. 

It is possible to calculate your own personal carbon footprint, though this can get complicated. Some of the things to evaluate include your travel, diet, energy use and shopping habits. It turns out a single average human is responsible for 4-20 tonnes of emissions each year. 

But what about websites? 

An average website produces about 1.76 grams of CO2 per page view. If your website is getting 5,000 views per month, that means it’s emitting about 105 kg of CO2 per year. 15,000 views per month would send out almost 317 kg of CO2 per year, around the same as a flight from London to Istanbul. Just think about all the websites in the world — the amount of CO2 emitted from the internet is dizzying. 

If you’re panicking a bit, don’t. The first step is to see how much CO2 your website is actually producing. Then, you can work on making your website more eco-friendly and offsetting your carbon emissions.

Start by typing your website’s URL into the Website Carbon Calculator from Wholegrain Digital. The calculator takes things like data transfers, the energy intensity of web data, website traffic and if your data centre powers your website with a green energy source into consideration when calculating your site’s emissions. 

The results are clearly stated, explaining your website’s CO2 emissions. Your site will be compared to others, letting you know if yours is cleaner (or not) than most other websites.

Here are the results from of one of my recent blog posts:

Source: www.websitecarbon.com

Viewing these simple comparisons will give you a clearer view of where your website stands. For example, the last website I checked explained that it had used 212kWh of energy, enough electricity to drive an electric car 1,357km over the course of a year with 10,000 views per month.

The carbon calculator also explains how you can best take action — but more on that later.

The carbon footprint of the world’s most used websites

You might be surprised to find out the carbon footprint of some of the world’s most popular websites — it may not be what you think.

To spice things up a bit, let’s play a game. I tested the carbon footprints of these four websites:

google logo
Amazon logo
facebook logo
the guardian logo

Which websites do you think have the biggest and smallest carbon footprints? No cheating! Take a guess at each of the stats below and then click the coloured boxes to reveal the answers.

1. ________________.com produces 3.20g of CO2 every time someone visits this website. This website is powered by standard energy.
Amazon logo

2. ________________.com produces 1.39g of CO2 every time someone visits this website. This website is powered by standard energy.
the guardian logo
3. ________________.com produces 1.31g of CO2 every time someone visits this website. This website is powered by sustainable energy.
facebook logo
4. ________________.com produces 0.26g of CO2 every time someone visits this website. This website is powered by sustainable energy.
google logo

Don’t worry if you didn’t get them right — the most important thing to know is how clean your own website is. Then you can figure out how to use carbon offsetting in your (and the planet’s) favour.

How to reduce your website’s carbon footprint

It’s easy to help reduce your website’s carbon footprint. There are many ways you can do this:

  1. Optimise your website. Websites that are slow and lagging often need to be optimised to work faster and more sustainably. I can help you optimise your site and make sure it’s running as sustainably as possible.
  2. Switch to an eco-friendly web host. As you’ve noticed by the above quiz, some major websites use sustainable web hosting and some don’t. Why not make the switch to a more sustainable host such as Eco Web Hosting or Green Geeks? I can also help you make your site’s transition to an eco-friendly web host smooth and simple.
  3. Consider offsetting your carbon use. Some of the best ways to do this will be detailed out below. 

What is carbon offsetting?

Carbon offsetting goes beyond just making your website sustainable. It’s kind of like a trade: you do something to make up for the emissions your website has put out. You can invest in an eco-positive project that in turn reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Essentially, it evens out the playing field.

There are many benefits of carbon offsetting your website:

  • Your website’s carbon footprint is balanced
  • You’re setting a solid example for other websites
  • If others follow your lead, real change can happen
  • You’ll attract readers/clients/customers that find sustainability important

How to offset your website’s carbon use

Even with eco-friendly web hosting and sustainable website optimisation, your website will still leave a carbon footprint. The good news is you can reduce this carbon footprint by offsetting it in a variety of ways.

The most popular way to do this is by planting trees using a website like Tree Nation or One Tree Planted. You could also consider supporting carbon offset projects that help bring renewable energy options or clean water to developing countries or groups of people that need it. Some of these are things like Panama Wind Energy, ceramic water cooler production in Cambodia or efficient household cookstoves in Kenya.

Gold Standard Certified Emission Reductions price their offset options by tonne. These projects range from things like funding solar energy in India or chlorine water dispensers in Uganda. 

Bottom line

The internet leaves a major carbon footprint that contributes to climate change. Make sure to handle your website’s carbon footprint with eco-friendly web optimisation and with carbon offsets like planting trees or supporting renewable energy projects. Don’t be Amazon.com, instead, plant trees in the Amazon.

I’m happy to help you optimise your website and to make it more sustainable. For more information or a quote, feel free to contact me here


5 Ways to Make Your Website More Eco-Friendly

Running a sustainable business takes a certain level of organisation and commitment. Sometimes, the easiest or most affordable route isn’t the most eco-friendly. Nevertheless, if you’re dedicated enough, you can easily make your business or brand more sustainable — and that includes your website.

You may (or may not) be surprised to learn the internet contributes to global carbon emissions because of the vast amounts of energy consumed in powering the infrastructure and devices we use to access our favourite websites. In fact, a study by the Boston Consulting Group claimed the internet contributes to at least two percent of the world’s carbon emissions. This means the internet is responsible for putting out over one billion tonnes of greenhouse gases each year into the environment. This number is predicted to double by 2025, according to BBC. Ensuring you have a green website means you’re doing your part to help reduce your carbon footprint.

Setting up eco-friendly websites or changing to eco-friendly web hosting isn’t difficult if you know the basics (and of course, I’ve got you covered if you need any assistance!). You won’t have to forgo any advanced design features or useful widgets if you do it right, either. Here are five simple steps to ensure your website matches the sustainability of your brand.

1. Test your website 

First, you’ll need to figure out how green your website already is. Start intuitively — if your website is moving slowly or taking forever to load, it may not be just a slow Wi-Fi connection, it may be a sign your website isn’t operating in a sustainable manner and is overusing energy.

But it’s best to understand exactly how green your website is with detailed information on what you’re doing right (and wrong). Once you know, you can begin to make the necessary changes to create a more eco-friendly website. This can be done using EcoGrader

EcoGrader will score your website on scale of 0 to 100 using filters like page speed, findability, design speed, user experience and green hosting. Depending on your results, you’ll know how dire the situation is. Don’t worry if you get a terrible score, because the below solutions can easily help you improve it.

2. Switch to a green web host

One of the simplest ways to make your website more sustainable is to switch to eco web hosting. An eco web host uses servers powered by renewable energy and offsets any carbon use.

Eco Web Hosting is an example of a web host that is dedicated to running a green business. Besides offsetting their energy use by planting trees and using sustainable energy sources, this particular company ensures its hiring and employee practices are responsible too.

You can either start from scratch or switch from your current web host to Eco Web Hosting — they make migration easy and painless. And, each package comes complete with between 4-10 trees planted per month.

Another alternative for eco web hosting is Green Geeks. The hosting platform gives back by not just offsetting the carbon emissions put out — they offset three times the amount!

3. Optimise your site

Once you’ve got a green web host, it’s time to make sure the design elements of your website are just as eco-friendly. As you can likely see from the EcoGrader test, there may be things on your website that are slowing it down, like flash players, photos, videos, widgets and more. 

Take a good, hard look and evaluate your site. Is there too much to look at? Is it taking forever to load? A study by Google confirmed that users prefer simple websites better than overly complex ones. Think about what you can get rid of and focus on the most important images, text and layouts that best align with your brand. 

Plenty of services can help you when optimising your site. You can easily reduce image sizes (often by up to 80%) by compressing them using Kraken and re-uploading them to your website. Or, if your site runs on WordPress, try the TinyPNG Plugin to optimise your existing images directly from your WP dashboard. Make it a habit to routinely utilise a tool like Dr. Link Checker which will help you find and fix any broken links. 

4. Offset your site’s carbon use by planting trees

No matter how eco-friendly your website is, it’s still going to need to use some energy. Offset it by planting trees. 

While you can always just randomly plant trees using a website like One Tree Planted, consider using Tree Nation, which offers CO2 neutral packages that fits your needs. Packages start at just 5€ per month and guarantee to offset a fixed amount of carbon by planting a specific number of trees each month. 

Tree Nation also allows you to create a widget for your webpage which specifically notes your website’s CO2 impact and calculates the exact number of trees you’d need to plant to offset it.

5. Use a renewable energy provider

Using a renewable energy provider will ensure your business is even more green. Every time you turn on your computer, pop over to your website or charge your smartphone, you can rest easy knowing you’re powering your tech using wind, solar, hydro or other renewable energy sources.

For those based in the U.K or Spain, (Bulb.co.uk or Bulb.es) is one of the best renewable energy suppliers, charging a single tariff for electricity and gas — and no exit fees. If you’re based in the U.S., have a look at Green Mountain Energy, which has special plans for small businesses.

Bottom line

Making your website more eco-friendly is an easy way to keep sustainability strong within all sectors of your green business. But if it seems just a little too complicated to set up or migrate your sustainable brand to a more sustainable website, I’d love to help.

For more information or a quote, feel free to contact me here