Sustainability on the web

So far, sustainability on the web is hardly an issue in society. In doing so, we all usually access countless websites every day. Even when we sleep, our cell phone continues to work unless we turn it off.

Hardly anyone has in their heads that every single page view consumes CO2. In addition, the websites accessed are getting bigger and bigger. Since 2011, the average website size has grown by 1200%.2

According to the Shift Projects, digital technologies are currently responsible for 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions.1 This amount is comparable to the amount of greenhouse gas emissions caused by air traffic (3.5%). In the future, the greenhouse gas emissions caused by digital technologies will continue to rise. In 2025, digital technologies will account for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions.1 In addition, the energy demand of the internet will grow by 9% annually.

Every single page view produces CO2. In 2020 the Amazon site alone, a site with approx. 4.33 MB, was accessed almost 693.5 billion times.1 This corresponds to approx. 1.9 gigatons of CO2.2 The total of all website visits and the size of the websites have a significant impact on CO2 emissions.

4%

Current share of the Internet in global CO2 emissions

9%

Growth in annual energy demand from the Internet

Digitization and sustainable development urgently need to be brought together. The merger is necessary to enable a digital, sustainable future.

The Internet plays an essential role in terms of the sustainability of digital technologies. The average size of a website in 2020 was 2 megabytes.2 This value increased by 37.0% from 2017 to 2020. Since 2011 even by 1200%.

CO2 emissions from amazon.com

How many trees are needed to absorb the CO2 emissions from amazon.com?

Year
2020
CO2-emissions
1.9 gigatons

2020 amazon.com has had 693.5 billion page views1 and produced 1.9 gigatons of CO22. 158.2 million trees would be needed to absorb the CO2 emissions from amazon.com in the amount of 1.9 gigatons. To be climate positive with their website, amazon.com would have to plant one more tree.

Trees
158.2 million
Trees to plant
158.2 million + 1

Date: 10 Jul 2021
1Pageviews: Based on 1,900,000,000 page views per day (https://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=amazon.com).
2CO2: Based on 2.74 g CO2-emissions per pageview
Bytes: 4.33 MB
Adjusted Bytes for returning visitors: 3.27 MB
How much CO2 a tree can absorb: 12 - But really a tree absorbs anywhere between 10 and 40kg of CO2 per year on average, depending on a whole host of factors.
Green Hosting: No

Calling up a website with a size of 2 megabytes once generates 1.2g CO2. In itself, this is a low number. However, if the page is accessed 10,000 times, the CO2 produced corresponds roughly to the amount that seven trees can absorb in one year. An electric car could drive 1.8 km with this energy.

2MB

Average page size in 2020

1.2g

Caused CO2 emissions per page view from a website with 2 MB

The effects of digital change on the environment are great and will continue to increase in the future. So far, there is still insufficient awareness of the importance of sustainability in web developments.

Sustainability guidelines

Promoting sustainability is an integral part of my professional activities. My goal is to develop good sustainability practices and implement them in everyday work. I also support my customers and partners in establishing an ecologically sustainable culture on the internet.

On the platform Wholegraindigital there is a manifest in which all signatories publicly support the creation of a sustainable Obligation of the Internet.

Sustainable Web Manifesto

The sustainable web manifesto was launched in 2019 by Wholegraindigital. It is a project to integrate principles of sustainability into daily work. Wholegraindigital has chosen a manifest as the format to make it clear that the principles listed are universal.

Clean

The services we provide and services we use will be powered by renewable energy.

Efficient

The products and services we provide will use the least amount of energy and material resources possible.

Open

The products and services we provide will be accessible, allow for the open exchange of information, and allow users to control their data.

Honest

The products and services we provide will not mislead or exploit users in their design or content.

Regenerative

The products and services we provide will support an economy that nourishes people and planet.

Resilient

The products and services we provide will function in the times and places where people need them most.

Practical Steps - How do I implement the Manifesto?

I have signed the manifesto, and I work according to its guidelines as best as possible. The following areas are critical to me:

Plant trees and become climate-positive

With every page view, my website also contributes to the release of CO2 into the atmosphere. To offset these CO2 emissions, I let plant trees on Ecologi and Review Forest. A climate-positive balance sheet is important to me. So I'm having more trees planted than needed to compensate for the CO2 emissions caused by my website.

CO2 emissions from my website

How many trees are needed to absorb the CO2 emissions from my website?

Year
2021
CO2
1.09 kg

So far, my website has had 13.3 thousand page views1 this year and produced 1.09 kg of CO22. 0.09 trees would be needed to absorb the CO2 emissions from my website in the amount of 1.09 kg. In order to be climate-positive with my website, I am having more trees planted. So far 52 trees have been planted.

Trees
0.09
Trees to plant
1 + 52

Date: 15 Oct 2021
1Pageviews: Page views from Plausible analytics API
2CO2: Based on 0.08 g CO2-emissions per pageview
Bytes: 146.55 KB
Adjusted Bytes for returning visitors: 110.64 KB
CO2 absorbtion per tree: 12 - But really a tree absorbs anywhere between 10 and 40kg of CO2 per year on average, depending on a whole host of factors.
Green Hosting: Yes

Acquisition of equipment and consumption of resources

Every hardware and software that I need for my work is used in the most resource-efficient way possible. Smartphones and laptops can have a long lifespan if they are repaired. I try to minimize the use of paper and other materials in the office.

I reduce my energy consumption from office equipment by buying energy-efficient equipment. My electricity is obtained from a provider who gets it from renewable energies.

Digital operation

When we browse the internet, we are often not aware of the exact size of our CO2 footprint. The influence of your site can be seen very quickly with websitecarbon.com or digitalbeacon.co. There are also many digital ways to contribute to climate protection. For example, Review Forest helps to be more sustainable while getting Google reviews.

Whenever possible, I choose service providers who share the same ethos and use renewable energy. I make sure files are shared internally. If I need to share them externally I use secure methods and no email attachments to reduce the amount of data transferred.

I minimize my required cloud storage by storing customer files online only for the project period but for a maximum period of 12 months. The data is checked weekly and then deleted if necessary. On the one hand, I want to save customer data as briefly as possible on my own. On the other hand, every byte contributes to the server consuming electricity and thus CO2.

Absorb CO2

We offset our carbon footprint via Ecologi

I make my private and professional life climate-positive and I am building a corporate forest.

CO2-Impact

I measure the CO2 emissions of my site with every visit. "You can't fix what you can't measure". It is therefore important to have an overview.

CO2-Footprint

Overall, this website is rated as very good in terms of its CO2 footprint.

Reviews

Reviews are essential for any business. Online Google reviews play a huge role. I have trees planted for each reviews received.

Travel and Meetings

Wherever possible, I avoid physical travel to meetings where alternatives are available and practical, without foregoing the benefits of regular contact with customers and partners. I turn off my camera during regular video calls. I walk to my co-working office every day and only rarely use a car.

Social and solidarity activity

Ecologically oriented business and social responsibility are the cornerstones of my work. I support associations (e.g.: Piepmatz) and call solidarity initiatives with partners (e.g.: Tante Hilde) into life.

  1. Climate Crisis: The unsustainable use of online video
  2. HTTPArchive - State of the Web - Total Kilobytes

Become sustainable together on the web

I look forward to a conversation, questions or a professional exchange.