Websites nowadays have a multitude of bells and whistles, ranging from tacky animations to autoplay clips. If you dislike those features, you're not alone: they're not only irritating and slow down a website; they're also bad for the climate.
From the outset we tried to ensure that our website is environmentally friendly as possible.
According to the 'carbon calculator' online website, the average webpage emits 1.76g of CO2 per page view, meaning a site with 100,000 page views per month emits 2,112kg of CO2 per year. The more complicated a website, the more energy it takes to load – and therefore, the greater its environmental effect. When you scale it up to the entire internet, you've got a huge problem.
A simple, stripped-down website, such as our own, emits just 0.28g of CO2 per page view; in comparison, a site with video features, such as Ecotricity (though even this low in comparsion with with other sites), emits much more. Per page view, where 1.0g of CO2 is emitted. According to the HTTP Archive, websites have only become less environmentally efficient over the years: the average web page now weighs in at about 2MB, up from less than 500KB in 2010.
Fortunately, there is a growing consciousness of internet emissions, due in part to a new generation of eco-conscious businesses developing websites in compliance with carbon-minimization principles.
Surprisingly, for a company with such green credentials, their own website perhaps needs a slight bit of improvement.
Switching to a green web host – basically, a hosting company whose operations are fuelled by renewable energy – is one of the most successful ways to reduce a website's carbon footprint.
It is also possible to reduce emissions by limiting the number of images on each web page. Images are the single most important contributors to page weight. The more images you use and the bigger the image files, the more data must be transmitted, and the more energy must be expended. Using SVG graphics instead of JPEG, PNG, and GIF graphics can help reduce image size, and you can use a compression feature to reduce it even further. Swapping custom fonts for system fonts, which are already preinstalled on most computers, can also help lower emissions.
Good design should always be considered. A website that is planned and developed with sustainability in mind is better for the environment and its carbon footprint; it can also provide a faster-loading, more open experience for the customer. Ask yourself if you need this many images or this much visual interaction?
Climate-friendly websites remain in the minority; after all, there are 1.83 billion websites on the internet today, the vast majority of which do not adhere to carbon-light design standards. However, there is an increasing interest in digital sustainability. Since 2019, more than 1,360 individuals and businesses, including Google, have signed the Sustainable Web Manifesto, pledging their commitment to building a more sustainable internet.