How To Reduce Your Digital Carbon Footprint

Matthew in frame

Author
Matthew Jackson

The Environmental Impact of the Digital World & How to Reduce your Digital Carbon Footprint Everyone has a role to play in the fight against climate change, both socially and economically.

To combat climate change within business, a new class of organisations has arisen – “B Corps”.

Digital Carbon Footprint

Businesses that achieve Certified B Corp status give as much consideration to their digital carbon footprint as they do to their financial returns. This means they are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, and the environment.

At Blue Digital we’ve been doing our own bit to help combat climate change by planting over 1,000 trees near our office in Yorkshire. The full story on how we became carbon negative can be found here.

In general, businesses are now becoming more aware of their environmental responsibilities. Many often have a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy in place. Some companies are taking this further by creating Environmental Social Governance (ESG) policies. These are more specifically aimed at making businesses greener.

As we’re now more connected than ever, we’ve taken a look at how thoughtful digital strategies can work to support CSR/ESG policies. A fully developed digital strategy can help to reduce carbon spend and help to combat climate change.

If you are considering a new website or developing a digital transformation plan, there are a number of areas that you should focus on to ensure the plans align with your CSR/ESG policy. Many of these considerations will also help to improve your online marketing performance in the long run.

Green Hosting

There are a number of companies that now offer green hosting. Either by offsetting their carbon emissions or by using renewable energies to power their servers, they provide options similar to a green energy supplier. This makes hosting with them a more ethical choice. Companies can also monitor their server energy consumption to ensure their emissions aren’t unnecessarily high. To help reduce carbon emissions created from data storage and transfer, consider moving to cloud hosting with a green supplier.

Site Speed

Search engines value speed. Google sometimes gives an additional search boost for quicker websites. That’s why, at Blue Digital, we always aim to make our clients’ websites as fast as possible.

If you want to improve your search engine performance, speed is a great place to look. Organic and paid performance are also improved by increasing site speed.

Also, slow sites take up more energy. Not only does every server request consume energy, the more time people spend waiting for a site to load, the more energy is consumed. By investing in a quick website, you can reduce your company’s carbon footprint.

Site Design

Computer monitors use energy to display colours. Older CRT monitors use more energy to display light colours, which explains the dark design of the Google alternative Blackle. Newer LCD monitors use more energy to display dark colours. It’s worth giving consideration to the colours used in your website design for energy saving purposes. Colours can also have an impact on accessibility, so it may be worth considering having a “dark mode” for users to choose if they would prefer.

Custom fonts can lead to large web page sizes, so minimising their use is always a good idea. Modern web fonts, such as WOFF and WOFF2, utilise high compression methods so it’s a good idea to use these instead. They help to reduce the consumption of power both server side and client side.

Another site feature to consider is printability as many users still print out web pages instead of having them on mobile devices. Ensuring printable pages don’t print unnecessary designs or information will save on paper as well as printer ink.

Website Coding

Website code should always be written cleanly and efficiently. This way, less power is needed to read and render the code. If Google and other search engines can process the site easily, this helps to improve organic search performance.

Utilise vector graphics and CSS effects in web design to create a visually engaging site. These graphics have smaller file sizes compared to traditional image files such as JPEGs and GIFs, so less energy is needed to load them. Instead of relying on CSS to resize images, upload images at scale and offload large media files to green-friendly Content Delivery Networks (CDNs). This will reduce server load. Also, compress files, images, and videos to reduce file sizes without any visible loss of quality. All this will help to improve the performance of your website and minimise the energy needed to host, deliver and view the site.

Avoiding autoplay on videos will also reduce the demand on servers. Instead, give users the option to view videos.

It is a good idea not to support older browsers such as IE8. Modern browsers are much less power hungry so by signposting users to download the latest version of their browser, this will help to reduce the energy needed to load the site.

It’s also a good idea to reduce tracking and advertising scripts. These consume data while rarely adding any value to users. Often it is possible to contain a large proportion of scripts in Google Tag Manager. This can help reduce the number of scripts that are loading on each page.

Final Thoughts

By following these steps and improving your organisation’s digital carbon footprint, you can also improve site speed, design and search performance. Choose the digital tools you use carefully and you’ll be able to streamline your digital strategy whilst also reducing your carbon footprint.

If you have any questions about to make your website greener or more search friendly, please get in touch.

 

Matthew in frame

About Matthew Jackson

Matthew is a very experienced Strategy Director but he hasn't always been a technical SEO Guru - he used to swim competitively resulting in him winning the National 16yrs 200m breast stroke!