How did an outreach email about website optimisation help us to save as much CO2 this year as we could by cycling 3000 kilometres instead of driving? Our co-founder and creative director, Paula Miquelis, explains. Enter the magic of greenpixie helping to reduce our website’s carbon footprint.
“As a social enterprise raising awareness about sustainability, we have to walk the walk ourselves,” says Paula. And we do. Our Take Action pages are full of #littlegreensteps to reduce carbon footprints across different aspects of life, from fashion to travel, food, home, and more. But it wasn’t until a company named Greenpixie got in touch with us that we realised there was a sphere of environmental consciousness we were neglecting totally; our digital carbon footprint.
As we found out, running a website has an environmental cost and all of us who have them should take responsibility for their impact.
The digital carbon problem
“Being in the eco-space, I’d heard about digital carbon footprints, for sure.” Paula says, “but it’s not talked about too much.” Our friends at Greenpixie tell us this is a familiar story. They hear a lot about how companies and individuals can go greener but rarely about how they’re reducing their digital carbon footprint and what’s causing it in the first place.
When you think about it, it’s no surprise that the internet is pollutive. Hundreds of millions of websites, billions of images and countless hours of video – all being endlessly downloaded onto and displayed by electronic devices. It’s obvious that this information and data has to be electronically stored and transferred somehow, so why does it feel surprising?
It may be that we are rarely confronted with the reality of what the internet is. Instead of enormous warehouses, packed full of energy-intensive servers, we like to speak about information existing all around us, in the ‘cloud’, with no fixed location or tangible physicality. But the truth is that every website is stored on at least one server, likely in one of these warehouses, somewhere around the world. And powering these huge data centres requires a lot of coal in the furnace.
Not to mention the transfer of that data from the server to the end-user. This relies on a complex telecoms network which could be beaming the website files off of a satellite one minute or sending them across the ocean floor the next. All of these processes cause serious CO2 emissions. The internet is now responsible for 3.7% of all global carbon emissions. And yet, we, too, were not talking about this problem, let alone how we might help solve it.
What was Paula’s first thought when she received a personal outreach email from a small tech start-up called Greenpixie? “This is provocative and I love it,” she says, adding – “bastards.” The email wasn’t just highlighting the digital carbon problem, it was downright accusing us of contributing to it! And it got our attention. Here we were encouraging our readers to live more consciously and these guys turned up at our doorstep with a blind spot of our own? We had to know more.
CEO John Ridd agreed to provide our website with a digital carbon audit and this is when we really understood how this huge problem can relate to a little website like ours. We learnt from the audit that a website’s carbon emissions can be estimated by its content – from large images and animations to the colours used for the display – and its infrastructure – which includes the kind of energy used to power its servers and how far your URL request has to travel to access its files.
“I thought our colorful website would become black without content.” Paula remembers thinking upon opening the audit. It’s easy to assume that the response to this problem is to dullen your website. Get rid of the pictures, choose the darkest colours and sacrifice all the great design and content you’ve built over the years. But Greenpixie explained that this wasn’t necessary. Their service, lossless optimisation, reduces websites’ carbon footprints by up to 80% by dealing with behind-the-scenes inefficiencies. They don’t touch the look or feel. We were sold.
“It was so smooth and fast, with very clear steps to make it happen” Paula recalls, “and the team has been amazingly nice, taking the time to explain everything along the process.” After they carried out our lossless optimisation, we were provided with a second audit, outlining everything we’ve saved. Monthly, that was 30.05kg of CO², or 259.6km driven in a petrol car!
Teamwork makes the dream work
We’re determined to help Greenpixie on their mission to build the internet as efficiently as possible. If just 0.01% of websites were optimised to their standard, we would save over one million metric tonnes of CO2 annually.
That’s why we’ve invited them to our Conscious Festival (24th – 26th September), where they’ll be giving a workshop to spread their realistic, collective action approach, which resonates so much with our own. Also, “we are not paid to talk about Greenpixie services,” Paula adds, “we genuinely and sincerely think they can make a huge difference one click at a time.”
What you can do
If you or your company have a website, it’s a no-brainer to get in touch with Greenpixie. They’ll audit your current CO2 emissions, outline your areas of inefficiency and help you to reduce your digital carbon output. All without affecting user experience at all. There’s really no reason not to get in touch with them or drop their website into your manager’s inbox. In fact, if you quote GITNB, you’ll get 10% off your fee.
Hey, look – our first-ever digital #littlegreenstep.
Featured Image: By cottonbro via Pexels | Image description: Person in red pants sitting on couch using a MacBook
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