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.
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.
* An affiliate link to a company I personally use and recommend. I’ll receive a small commission if you sign up with them but it won’t effect the price you pay.