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What we are doing about it

Climate change is a big deal. We don’t mean that flippantly; we really believe it. And while strides are being made to tackle it, one area in particular is neglected, and its carbon impact is continuing to grow: the Internet.

How many of us stop to think about the carbon emissions produced by websites, our online activity, watching videos, sending GIFs on Facebook?

Not that many perhaps. But the movement is growing and we want to be part of the change.

The Internet and the related areas that are necessary to make it a reality (data centres, devices, and so on) produce about the same amount of carbon dioxide emissions as the aviation industry. And while people are starting to think twice about how often they fly, how far they drive, or whether in fact they can walk or cycle instead of use the car at times…we don’t hear anybody talking about reducing how much they watch Netflix.

We're no angels

We know we’re part of the problem. Not only do we build websites for people and help them do their digital marketing to get more people to their websites…our own site was pretty dirty when we started this journey.

In fact, it was filthy, with the estimated CO2 output of our homepage being close to triple the Eco-Friendly Web Alliance’s benchmark of 1g per visit. This was back in December last year before we started making changes. And other areas of our site were just as bad.

After making some major changes to our homepage it has come out 77% cleaner than the benchmark. We’re quite proud of that, but we’re still going to try and make things cleaner where we can.

There’s a balancing act though, because we do need our website to do certain things for us. So while we could make things ultra clean and go text only website, hosted on a Raspberry Pi, and powered by solar panels and a wind turbine on top of our office, we have to draw the line somewhere.

We encourage all brands to do the same: make your site as clean as you can while ensuring it does what you and your customers need it to do. You’ll be amazed at how big an improvement you can make without damaging the digital experience.

Will you join us on our journey?

As businesses we have to take the lead, because it is our products and services that people buy. We are driving the problem.

We can no longer believe that businesses exist in a profit making vacuum, and are only supposed to make money. Businesses rely on people to create and deliver their products and services, and they rely on people to buy whatever it is that is being sold. So, we have to accept that what we do has a very real impact on people and the planet and we have to start making practical efforts to bring about a shift.

The eight pillars of our pledge

So, here are the things we pledge to do in the coming months to do what we can to reduce the carbon impact of our website:

1.Ensure our infrastructure is as clean as possible

Hosting and serving up a site, as well as its tech stack, are major contributors to its carbon footprint. We’ll be ensuring that what sits behind our site is as green as can be.

2.Clean up our code

Clean and efficient coding ensures sites are as efficient as possible, which means less data transfer and time spent serving it up.

3.Making our site lean

The more pages a site has the more bloat and therefore more intensive it is. We’ll be looking to condense, compress, and eradicate pages wherever possible. This will also make it simpler for users to navigate. Win-win.

4.Reduce video and images

Data transfer is a massive contributor to a website’s carbon impact. So we’ll be looking to reduce and eliminate unnecessary video and images. We’ll also investigate cleaner ways to manage and present such content, including modern image formats and more.

5.Consider design elements

Colours, fonts, and other brand assets all take energy to maintain and serve. So, we’ll be looking into ways to make our brand greener, which may include changes to how the site looks (dark mode by default for example), and seeing if we can use alternatives to energy intensive brand assets

6.Make our experience more user centred

Time spent on a site clicking around randomly trying to find what you need all adds to data transfer, which adds to carbon impact. We’ll be reviewing our site experience and making it tightly aligned to what our users really want, to speed up their journey and make their time on the site more efficient and effective.

7.Go big on accessibility

This might seem odd at first, but the fact is that the standards demanded to make a website meet certain accessibility standards also makes a site cleaner.

8.Raising awareness for carbon emissions on websites

We will share what we have learnt, and work to raise awareness of the issues surrounding carbon emissions and the Internet. As part of this we’re going to build a carbon emissions tool (that’s where you are right now!) for people to use to get an idea as to how dirty their website is. standards also has a material impact on its carbon footprint. We’ll be pushing accessibility even further. We preach it to our clients, so it’s high time we practised it ourselves.

We can help you clean up your site

The things we’ve learnt on our own journey to a cleaner site has given us greater insight into how to make sites clean but also beautiful and able to deliver on marketing and brand objectives. We’d love to help you improve your site.

Get in touch

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