“What is an eco-friendly website? How can a website be bad for the environment!? It’s not even a real thing!”. Does the above might mirror your first reaction? I don’t blame you. It’s hard to imagine something which is completely virtual to have an impact on the real world. And yet, the Internet contributes two percent of global carbon emissions. While that may not sound like much, it is, in fact, the same as the greenhouse-gas emissions of the aviation industry. Where on earth do they all come from? Many factors contribute to the effect the web has on our environment. The main two are:
- The devices we use to surf online.
- The server farms and data centers that store websites, process search queries, and hold the web’s content.
All of them need to be produced, shipped, powered and, in the case of the servers, kept cool. Naturally, this uses energy and, consequently, produces harmful emissions. For more details, check this infographic. In the following, we’ll discuss some simple steps you can take toward a greener web presence.
Why is an Environmentally Friendly Website Important?
There’s quite a lot of information online about living sustainably and the impact our decisions have on the environment and future generations. More and more people try to live in a way that minimizes their impact, for example, through recycling, reduction of energy consumption, changing their diet, and other measures. In addition to that, there is an increase in products being marketed as green or eco-friendly. However, rarely are these terms applied to websites or the Internet at large. A probable reason for that is that a lot of people are unaware of the environmental impact of online activity. Yet, as mentioned in the introduction, it is quite significant.
As early as 2016, the IT sector was responsible for approximately 7 percent of global electricity use. This is due to the technology used to power and accesses the web as well as the sheer and growing number of people who do so. As of 2019, there are over 4.3 billion active Internet users in the world. This number is only expected to grow as more and more people gain online access and more companies go digital. For that reason, just like in the real world, it is important to take measures to reduce the impact the web has on the climate and environment. And the only place where you can start is with yourself.
What’s in it for You?
Going green with your website comes with several benefits for both you, your business and your clients.
- Reduce your carbon footprint — If you are one of the growing numbers of people who want to take action against climate change and other environmental problems, here’s a way you can do so. Transitioning to a more eco-friendly website is one more step to reducing your personal carbon footprint.
- Connect with your customers — You are not alone in your efforts. Studies have shown that consumers are becoming more environmentally concerned. As a consequence, they are seeking out businesses that care about this topic as well. Consequently, being at the forefront of this development is a good way to attract like-minded customers and business associates.
- Improve your bottom line — As you will see below, opting for more eco-friendly ways to run your web presence can if often congruent more user-friendliness and increased site quality. This makes good business sense and can improve your overall success in the market place.
What are some of the Challenges?
So, if having a greener website is such a positive step to take, why aren’t people following this model? Maybe you don’t know where to start. Or you might feel like you lack the technical skills for taking the steps towards a more environmentally friendly web design.
One of the biggest challenges in creating more eco-friendly websites is faced by the people who make them – developers and designers. While you may be interested in making things that have less of an impact on the environment, what happens when your client is not?
After all, the main focus for most people who want a website is probably the functionality and design. Carbon footprint is usually not something they immediately think of. A lack of education is another great challenge. There’s often a notion that going green takes a lot of effort and means sacrificing things you care about. However, as you’ll see below, reducing your site’s carbon footprint does not have to mean a reduction in quality. Want proof?
Examples of Eco-Friendly Websites
The truth of the matter is that websites that incorporate low-impact approaches already exist. One such example is WholeGrain Digital. They are a web design agency who create and design WordPress sites for clients. Their blog and overall web design focus are on creating them in a sustainable manner. For example, you will notice that they’ve opted for a simple and clean design. Unlike many sites these days there are no ads or GIFs running in the background, which can be a huge energy drain.
Another example is ThoughtCo, a 20-year-old informative/educational website. Similar to the other entry on this list, they, too, have opted for a simpler design without moving elements. Both of these sites demonstrate that’s it’s possible to have an eco-friendly website that isn’t boring. How can you do the same? Let’s talk about that next.
I believe that, with the above arguments, you will see the position of print advertising in business. Hopefully, the article has brought the most overview for you. Let feel feedback here if you have any question.
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