Ways to increase your digital sustainability

It’s our responsibility to develop websites and digital products as sustainably as possible. Here are a few ways you can reduce your digital footprint.

- 5. September 2022

It seems like every company has a talking point these days about sustainability. Reducing packaging, using more environmentally friendly shipping methods, recycling at the office… and we all finally seem to be getting on the sustainability train. For good reason.

But you’re off the hook if your work is digital, right? The answer may surprise you.

Storing, transferring, and consuming digital content requires significant amounts of energy. Each page view might only mean a few grams of carbon emissions… but they add up. Think about how many pages you view, or documents you download, videos you watch in a day, week, year. It’s estimated that the carbon footprint of our devices, the internet and the infrastructure supporting them, account for between 2 and 4% of global greenhouse emissions.

So it’s evident that we, the users and creators of digital solutions, also have a responsibility to develop websites and digital products as sustainably as possible. We have listed a few ways by which you can make a difference and increase your digital sustainability:

Optimize, optimize, optimize.

Reduce the amount of data transferred when your website is loaded by compressing your images and videos. Use lazy loading to defer download of non-vital images. Rely on system fonts or WOFF format fonts that are significantly lighter weight than older font formats.

Audit your content. 

If your site has been around for a while, there are probably assets and pages that are no longer relevant to your users. If a piece of content isn’t bringing value, get rid of it and reduce your overall site size.

Make sure you’re leveraging a CDN (content delivery network)

CDNs store copies of your files on servers located around the world. When someone loads your website, the CDN serves the files from the closest server to them, reducing the distance data has to travel and decreasing the carbon footprint.

Use a green host. 

Look for hosting providers whose data centers are powered by grids that obtain electricity from many renewable sources, or that use efficient cooling systems. If you’re in e-commerce, our partner BigCommerce also has some recommendations about selecting a host.  

Reduce battery drain. 

JavaScript processing can be a very heavy task for a mobile device, which means increased battery drain, more frequent charging, and shorter battery life. Reduce and remove unnecessary JavaScript, and your users will thank you.

If you’re interested in increasing your digital sustainability, Adapt can help.

A good place to start is to check your website’s carbon footprint.

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