Green website: step by step

August 17, 2021

As I’ve mentioned to a few of you already, I’m in the process of trying to make my website more environmentally friendly. If you’re thinking “Green website... what?! How can a website be environmentally friendly (or otherwise)?” read on.

Internet usage might feel intangible but it has a huge impact on the environment. That’s because it takes a huge amount of (fossil fuel) energy to keep the internet running. Powering datacentres and cloud computing is, reportedly, the second largest global contributor to carbon emissions after the aviation industry.

When I first set up my website, I wasn’t fully aware of the sustainability issues associated with online activity. But now I’ve learned more, I want to make a change. As an Obliger (aka a people pleaser), having external accountability is an important motivator for me. It’s also important for me to be transparent and share where I need to improve and what I could be doing better.

So, here goes. In this blog, I’ll outline my commitment to improving my website from an environmental perspective. I’m also going to track my intentions, progress and improvement over time.

Overall goal

Continue taking steps to improve how environmentally friendly my website is. Green website here I come!

Steps completed April 2021 to August 2021

  • April 2021: Signed up to a green hosting provider, which uses 100% renewable energy from UK wind farms to power my website and has an energy-efficient datacentre based in London.
  • April 2021: removed my gallery page – it wasn’t essential and just added large images to my website
  • May 2021: lots of reading and research to figure out the steps I need to take to work towards a green website
  • June 2021: Fixed some back-end website issues which reduced its size by several GBs – taking it from 6.45GB (yikes! It was saving several large backups for no!) to 1.95MB (1.479g of CO2) and moving my website’s carbon footprint from ‘bad’ to ‘OK’ according to Beacon. But still dirtier than 56% of web pages tested on Website Carbon so much more to do.
  • July 2021: partnered with the lovely Emma Hewlett as accountability buddies. Emma is on the same journey to improve the impact of her website and I’m excited to be able to help each other out.
  • July 2021: deleted unnecessary images from my website and optimised a large image on my homepage (with thanks to Andy Davies for spotting and tweaking!). Other images still need optimising
    • This brought my website size down from 1.95MB (1.479g of CO2) to 648.03 KB (0.480g of CO2) and moved the rating from ‘OK’ to ‘great’ according to Beacon.
    • It also changed my website from being dirtier than 56% of websites tested on Website Carbon to cleaner than 67% of sites tested

Progress made so far: August 2021

ActionMarch 2021August 20201
Website hostNon-renewable energy (tut tut)Green hosting with 100% renewable energy
Carbon rating on BeaconBad (oh no!)Great (yey - much better!)
Website Carbon ratingDirtier than 56% of sites testedGreener than 67% of sites tested
CO2 produced every time someone visits the site (according to Website Carbon)1.10g0.5g

Steps completed August 2021 to April 2022

  • August 2021: work got super busy so I fell off the wagon and didn't do much on this for a WHILE... fail!
  • November 2021: spring cleaned my Google Storage (which, apparently,had been quietly backing everything up for years and was nearly full). I backed up and deleted my photos which brought the storage down to 4GB from 15GB. I'll need to revisit to see how I can reduce this further
  • December 2021: went through my old filed emails and deleted as many as possible. I can't give an exact figure but it was into the tens of thousands of emails deleted!
  • April 2022: ran my website through the Colour Contrast Checker and updated my brand colours to ensure my site is as accessible as possible

Next steps

I'm aiming to tick these off the list next - please help keep me accountable by reminding me if the year has zoomed by and I haven't ticked them off!

Future actions

  • Move from a ‘great’ to an ‘amazing’ rating on Beacon
  • Remove more images from case study pages
  • Check for large images and optimise to reduce their size
  • Review my media library and delete any images no longer in use
  • Do another image audit and delete anything unnecessary
  • Remove Google Analytics tracking
  • Improve the load speed of my website
  • Review and improve the user experience of the site, which will also make it more eco-friendly

What am I missing? If you’ve been through this journey and have any tips of other things I can improve, I’d love to hear from you!

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