The Internet and the Environment: How Your Website Can Contribute Towards a Better Planet

With the advent and global spread of technological advancement, it had become critical for stakeholders, particularly in those involved in the Internet, to understand and mitigate its impact on the environment.

This is serious!

The United Nations estimates that up to 3 billion people will have access to the Internet by the end of this year. These people may seem like a small population compared to the entire globe’s population but they are already affecting the environment.

Consider this: if one Google search takes about the same energy as it would to boil a cup of water (about 171.6 kJ), and there are 3 billion Internet users on the planet, how much energy is that? If everyone does ten Google searches a day (which is very low, but let us take it anyway), we will use (3 billion x 10 x 171.6) kJ of energy per day (you do the math!). This is all non-renewable, mind you.

Then, there are those statistics saying that every second spent surfing a simple website produces 20 mg of carbon dioxide. If you multiply that by the time you spend on the Internet and then by everyone with Internet access, the figures are staggering! No wonder global warming is on the rise.

What can you do?

These figures are overwhelming but there are steps that we can take within our sphere of influence to make the planet a better place to live, environmentally at least.

1. Manage the images on your website

Large, un-optimized images link to over 60% of the carbon emissions. You can design images optimized for the web and software like Adobe Photoshop to help you save these images in the right format. You can also avoid real images altogether, where you can.

2. Responsive websites

Creating websites viewable across various platforms is beneficial to you, your users and the environment. These responsive websites are by nature smaller, faster and lighter, reducing the amount of time and energy spent loading a single page and minimizing the carbon dioxide emitted by visiting your website.

3. Set a target page size

It takes about 13 kWh of energy to transmit 1GB of data. Think about that for a moment. If we are able to reduce the amount of transmitted data then we could save a lot of energy. One way you can do this is by determining the size limit per page for your website, and working within that limit to create an effective and efficient site. You will no doubt have to get creative here but more often than not, ideas that are eco-friendly turn out to be user friendly as well.

4. Choose your web hosting wisely

Make sure that your web hosting provider is environmentally conscious. Millions of web hosting servers use vast amounts of non-renewable energy to keep the monster that is the Internet running all day every day. Since you need hosting, make sure your provider uses renewable energy and is energy efficient before signing up for their services.

That is how your little website can make a difference in the environment.

Author Bio

Michelle Kany is an environmental blogger, and a self-confessed tree hugger, specializing in web-
based solutions for the environment. For more information on green options for your website, click the link.

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