Bristlebird Media Works

Digital & Web Sustainability

Making the web faster & more inclusive

Have you ever wondered what your digital carbon footprint looks like, or even considered that your website has a carbon footprint?

You might think that it’s negligible because it’s ‘virtual’ and all in the ‘cloud’ taking some ethereal, non-physical form, but in reality, digital data and it’s inexorable growth over the last 40 years, is the new oil of the 21st century.

Data, digital & the environment

In 2023, billions of networked devices across the world are projected to create over 120 zetabytes of data, nearly double that of 2020. This has a very real and considerable environmental impact on our physical world; the electricity being consumed by internet is now responsible for more carbon emissions than the aviation industry, more even than Germany, one of the most industrialised countries in the world.

There’s an energy cost to serving your website from a data centre — is it coal-powered or running on 100% renewable energy? There’s also an energy cost to rendering it on a digital device — downloading and executing excessive amounts of code demands more computing power, draining battery life more quickly.

Website carbon calculators can give you an indication of how dirty or clean your website is. Hold yourself to account by putting a carbon calculator badge on your website like the one below.

Sustainable Web Design is good for business

It is our responsibility as web designers and developers to reduce the environmental impact of our work, and to improve its inclusivity by building faster, more efficient websites. Faster websites send less data down the wire, use less electricity, cost organisations less to run (by reducing bandwidth fees) and cost end users less to access, particularly if they’re on costly mobile data plans.

Building for Inclusion

Faster websites make for happy customers; by allowing them to achieve their goals more easily, whether that be purchasing goods, learning new skills or paying their taxes. If someone can’t use your website because they’re on a slow internet connection or have an older device without enough memory to load up your website, it’s your loss, not theirs.

The business benefits of good web performance are clear; faster websites achieve higher conversion rates and increased profitability.

It turns out that what's good for people and the planet is also good for business.

How to reduce your website’s carbon footprint

Let us quantify your website’s impact and identify critical actions to improve it’s sustainability through performance optimisation. Here are a few simple tips that will bring big wins in terms of web performance, improved sustainability and ultimately happier customers:

  • Use images and videos responsibly: avoid auto-playing videos and auto-scrolling sliders, reduce file sizes through compression, lazy load files only if they will be scrolled into view and let the visitor decide if they want to watch or swipe to view more.
  • Ensure that your hosting provider is powered by renewable energy by using a green hosting provider.
  • Avoid using too many plugins and invasive third party tracking scripts.
  • Make your content easy to search and navigate, remove outdated and redundant content.
  • Use content delivery networks to serve data from locations closer to your visitors and cache files effectively to reduce the number of server requests.

If you'd like some help to reduce your website’s carbon footprint, please get in touch.