How to Create and Maintain an Eco-friendly Website

January 19, 2020 by milica

One would assume that all websites are eco-friendly by nature, simply due to the fact that they don’t waste any paper whatsoever. However, even though the paper is spared, websites do create quite a considerable environmental impact.

To put everything into a better perspective, it is good to point out that US data centers alone used 70 billion kilowatt-hours during just one year. For the reference, these centers store and further distribute the web site data. Furthermore, the internet itself contributes 2% of global carbon emissions. Although saying “two percent” may sound measly and unimportant, it is, in fact, the same percentage as that of the greenhouse-gas emissions of the whole aviation industry.

Two main factors that contribute to the devastating effect the web has on the environment are:

  • Our devices for an online surf

  • Data centers and server farms that store all of the websites, process all of the search queries, and keep the content safe and sound.

Those two elements, as well as a variety of others, are our responsibility. The good news is that all of the mentioned power-players are already taking steps to cut down on power consumption. Needless to say, it is up to us to try and do what we can on our end and help the world become a better place. (wow, I’m a regular Robin Sharma over here)

Now that we’ve presented the problem in all of its dark and stinky (cuz carbon) glory, let’s talk about some things we can do to help solve it.

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Opt for a green website hosting

One of the biggest steps in the right direction when it comes to making your website greener is choosing an eco-conscious hosting service. The carbon footprint that comes as a direct result of your website hosting service is usually the biggest one you leave as an internet user.

Web hosting servers all around the world consume whopping amounts of electricity to keep their branches operational.

Every web hosting server creates approximately 1390 pounds of carbon dioxide yearly. Needless to say, the environmental pollution caused by such emission of carbon is enormous. However, green web hosting is becoming more and more popular, so there is still hope. Green web hosting servers operate on fully 100% renewable energy. By using these servers, you won’t lose anything. Their offer still includes insanely fast websites and unlimited domains, but also the advantage of being completely environmentally friendly. Furthermore, going for eco-friendly web hosting won’t cost you a dime more than your usual eco-murderous web hosting.

Choose an eco-friendly web design

At this point, you are probably thinking about some hippy-flowery setting topped with a stream full of shiny pinkish salmons. Just me? ‘Kay. Anyway, that is not what eco-friendly web design actually means.

In order to fully grasp the meaning of environmentally conscious web design, it is important to note that the more intricate your site design is, the more power it uses when loaded.

Every single element of your respective website, from code to seemingly tiny animations, adds more weight to that energy footprint we mentioned earlier. The complicated your website is, the longer it will take for it to load, and the more energy it will consume.  So this step is actually fairly simple. Use fewer Javascript widgets, get rid of some unnecessary pics and vids, etc. Once you take some precautions that will enable your website to load quicker, you’ve taken some precautions to save our environment. As simple as that.

Provide green options for your users

This probably sounds simpler than it actually is, but once you do it, the results will be very rewarding. The main green thing you can do in regard to your site-users and visitors is to make it more printer-friendly. Thanks to some ingenious and conscious web developers, this particular step can be done through the usage of various remarkable plugins.

If a user wants to print a particular piece of content from your website, this type of plugin will provide a more printer-friendly version of that content. It will basically take care of any unimportant graphics and advertisements, make smaller font, and remove any visible navigation items. This will significantly reduce the number of attempted re-prints, and it will also save both resources and energy.

Taking this step is a no-brainer. Your visitors will have a much better experience, and you will feel better knowing that you are doing something good for the planet — all that with just one simple change.

Educate your website visitors

Sure, you can always just hit that “green website” sticker in your footer and think that your job is done. However, as a website owner, you should give yourself some more credit than just that. On the same note, you should also take some more responsibility for your own content. You don’t have to, of course, but why not? Come on now, don’t be a Jared Leto of the Jokers! Do something truly meaningful and attention-worthy. Once you start throwing in some good-ole green messages into your content, it is always good to sound like you’re just chatting with your bud Josh whom you’ve known 4eva. What I mean by that is be relaxed and honest because once you start sounding condescending, you lose, and so does the planet.

Try to use a friendly and grounded way to encourage your visitors to join the global green mission.

If you fail at first, don’t feel bad, just keep trying. Keep in mind that even if you made just one person change something and be a little bit eco-friendlier, it’s still a one-person more to join the movement. (for realz tho, I’m like Deepak Chopra of the internet)

Paint your equipment green

Put that brush down folks, it’s just a metaphor. All jokes aside (you call that a joke?), the equipment you use to create your content and maintain your website runs on electrical power. Check with your local electricity provider what green options are available in your area. Usually, you can opt to use either wind, solar, geothermal, hydroelectric, or biomass electrical generators.

If none of these options are available in your area yet, you can always purchase carbon offsets to reduce the emission of CO2. There is a variety of high-quality carbon offsets on the market, and most are very effective.

The ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once said: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” And although travel agencies and lit-students have been mercilessly misquoting the Chinese wise man for ages now, the meaning stays the same. So, in case you started thinking, “What’s the use?” or “What can little one I do?”, keep in mind that you are taking that one step and that one step Is all it takes. Once you make your website eco-friendly, it won’t be just one more green website in the sea of unawareness. It will be ONE MORE green website with capital letters and capital meaning. (OMG, someone hand me a Pulitzer, for realz)

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