Make Internet Eco-Friendly Again
The Internet, the biggest distributed machinery created by Human civilization spans over the entire globe. There are billions of devices connected to each other sending and receiving data. Most importantly, all these devices run on electricity so the Impact of the Internet on the Environment Carbon emission is enormous. The Internet around the globe uses roughly the same amount of energy as that of electricity consumed by the entire UK. Carbon emission by Internet machinery is similar to that of Germany which is the 6th largest CO2 emitter in the world. It doesn't take much effort to make a website green and sustainable.
Data = Energy = CO2 Emissions
To understand more about why this happens, let us first understand the basics. For instance, how do you think a website gets loaded in your browser or when you click a like button on Instagram, what really happens behind the scene to deliver your love to the other person almost instantaneously?
You can yourself check out the impact your website is creating to the planet using this Carbon Calculator:
How does the Internet work?
Resolving IP Addresses
- The world of the Internet is accessed through IP addresses the same was we have our office/home address for the physical world. A website URL (bekarmic.com, facebook.com, etc.) is created for us humans to remember and easily navigate the internet
- Every time you type a website URL let say google.com in your browser, your browser has to convert this URL to an IP address where the website resides. This IP address is the location of the web-server on which this website is hosted/resides
- Every single URL on the internet has a unique IP address assigned to it. If you want you can access www.google.com you can do it by typing http://184.108.40.206 on your browser
DNS coming to rescue
- Now, DNS(Domain Name System) comes into the rescue of the browser because it is a database that maintains the name of the website (URL) and the particular IP addresses.
- As a result, your web browser first checks within your computer if the URL exists either in browser cache(or simply memory), or operating system cache. If not, it checks with the router your computer is connected to. If that also doesn’t have this IP information, the last hope for your browser is to check with ISP(Internet Service Provider) server as all ISPs maintain a database of DNS records.
ISP, only savior
- Sometimes it happens that even the ISP doesn’t have the record which you need so it initiates a DSN search on different ISP servers to get the IP location. Now, this step happens recursively until it either finds the IP address we need or returns an error response saying it was unable to find it. At the moment there are close to 4.3 Billion IP addresses
- Let’s assume your browser got the response as the IP address of the website you’re trying to load. This creates a TCP connection and data transfer begins. TCP is the most common protocol used for many types of HTTP requests. You can think of TCP as a messaging protocol between servers
- Essentially your browser creates a TCP connection with the server. Then, it sends a request to get certain information, in our case Get google.com homepage. Thus, the server then checks this request and if everything is fine, respond with the website/data
These web servers reside in Data Centers. There are over 8 million data centers worldwide. All these data centers, routers, signal transmitters, your laptop/computers run on electricity. Each click you do on the internet has a direct impact on the environment.
In short, browse wisely.
Making your website green & sustainable with less carbon emission
You too can make your website green. There are three major areas that impact the eco-ness of any website — Data Center, Transmission Network, and the User device. Lets start with the Datacenter, in most of the case, the web hosting platform.
Choosing the right hosting provider
Gone are the days when there were only a few web hosting players in the market. You shouldn’t be surprised to see web hosting platforms’ energy source distribution.
Even though the claims by these tech giants about using sustainable energy sources are huge but they are all hiding the truth. According to this Greenpeace report, tech giants are still using Non-renewable sources of energy to power their data centers and don’t have any concrete plans to stop it either.
Companies like GreenGeeks, InMotion & A2 Hosting are very particular about using the right kind of energy source to power their services; Not taking any dirty money. Furthermore, their pricing is also competitive which gives us more reason to should start migrating to these web hosting providers. The Green Web Foundation’s directory consists of a list of over 500 hosting providers around the world that have committed to using green energy in their data centers.
Creating a sustainable green website UX (User Experience)
User experience plays a very important role in the success of any website. However, in the name of UX, companies are ignoring the fact that more animations, videos, high-resolution images they put on their website essentially lead to more carbon emission.
- Simplify your website flow — The more complex the flow, the more time user will spend in executing a specific task leading to more carbon footprint
- Optimize images if not use fewer images or use vector graphics
- Use fewer videos, Gifs and avoid autoplay features
- Use system fonts instead of Custom fonts. Additionally, remove unnecessary font weights if using Custom fonts
- Use low energy colors . For example, in the case of OLED screen, Black/dark theme consumes way lesser electricity than white/bright themed websites
- Fewer animations and effects — Limit yourself from using too many animations and effects like parallax which causes more compute power and thereby more energy consumption
Website optimization & Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to reduce Carbon footprint
Did you know One Google search can generate up to 7 grams of CO2? If your website is not optimized for SEO and the bounce rate is high, it will lead to more carbon emission. Users will keep going back and forth to the search engines to look for relevant content. Therefore, it is very important for your business to optimize the website for Search Engines but also for the environment.
What can you do right now?
If you’re a Website Owner
- Choose a green web hosting
- Keep it simple and sustainable (KISS)
- Optimize your website
- Rather than using images/videos use a dark theme with vector graphics
If you’re a User
- Stop browsing the internet unnecessarily
- Use the dark theme in your OS — macOS/Windows/Linux/Android/iOS
- Use Chrome extensions like “Dark reader” to turn any website dark-themed
- Dim your screen brightness to 70% to save power
- Use search engines like Ecosia, it uses its profits to plant trees and runs on 100% renewable energy instead of Google or Bing
Each one of us has a crucial role to play in saving our environment. In the age of the Internet, we cannot let our websites/applications be harmful to the environment. It's our duty as a user and creator to make green website and Internet sustainable again.
It's time to refactor the code. Create Green Websites. Happy Coding 👨🏻💻