No online company can avoid the topic of sustainability at the moment. We at Raidboxes have also been concerned with green hosting from the very beginning. Because "the Internet", WordPress as well as WordPress Hosting consume a lot of energy. How ecological can the web be? And are sustainable approaches authentic? An overview of the current discussion.
Simon Kraft aka @krafit is a veteran of the German-speaking WordPress scene. In his blog he deals intensively with the combination of WordPress & sustainability. He also regularly speaks on the topic at WordCamps and WP MeetUps. At WordCamp Stuttgart 2019, there will be a separate topic area on "Sustainability and Performance".
Simon explains the connection as follows:
"The operation of the Internet already accounts for just under 10% of annual global energy consumption. By 2030, this figure is expected to rise to over 20%."
Currently, about 41 percent of all websites worldwide are operated with WordPress. In concrete terms, this means that how well WordPress performs is one of the factors that will determine the future of our planet.
"We need to counter a trend of increasingly complex and overloaded websites ... We already have all the tools for climate-friendly websites in our hands. We just need to finally be consistent in using them."
Simon believes this is a responsibility we all share as website operators. In his postWordPress, the web and the climate, he lists specific actions we can take:
- Remove unnecessary ballast from your website. Especially features that involve large data transfers, e.g. Google Maps or social media integrations that connect to the networks every time a page is viewed.
- Reconsider image galleries and oversized feature images. When we posted a magazine article on SEO, for example, we converted large GIFs to much smaller still images. These explain the topic just as well but have the benefit of minimizing load time. This is an approach we follow for all articles in our magazine wp unboxed.
- Clean out your plugins. This not only makes your WordPress more secure, but it can also give your website a performance boost.
- Slim down your development. If you develop plugins and themes, Simon has some special tips for you. Simplify the code, update old code libraries or remove them. Every byte that's not transferred saves resources.
WordPress developers in particular can have a much bigger impact than they realize. Because their source code is used on a large number of websites. The entire traffic that arises from a poorly thought out development increases its impact exponentially.
Do you run websites or online shops with WooCommerce? You can also make an important contribution. Check out our following articles:
What we are rarely aware of when it comes to sustainability is that our "surfing" behavior has a major influence on what our own personal climate footprint looks like. Ranting about SUVs, pillorying air travel, and at the same time streaming every conceivable series on Netflix & Co. That only goes together to a very limited extent.
If you really want to get involved with protecting the environment, you need to take a critical look at your behavior and consider the following points:
- Do I really need to upload every file, backup, and photo to the cloud?
- How long do the files need to be stored? Am I deleting data I no longer need?
- When would a local backup be enough, e.g. on a USB stick or external hard drive?
- How often do I use things like live streaming or data-heavy games?
- Are there certain features that increase traffic but I can do without?
- Are there files I download from Amazon Prime Video, iTunes, Google Play, Spotify or Netflix and similar services without ever actually watching or listening to them?
- Are there materials in the office I download repeatedly? Can I save them locally?
Your user behavior in social networks also plays a role. Do I really need to reload my timeline on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Co. every five minutes? Do I have to let autoplay on YouTube run in the background? Each individual task only consumes a small amount of data. But when you consider the sum of all the users performing these tasks, it quickly amounts to a gigantic data load.
The search engine Ecosia takes a different approach. It is technically based on Microsoft's Bing. The difference is that the profits are used to support reforestation projects. Similar to Raidboxes. For every WordPresssite you host with us, we plant a tree for you. More about that later.
Ecosia is based in Berlin. The company promises the following key points for sustainability:
- Transparency: The search engine publishes monthly reports. In it, you can see how much money has been raised and what percentage of the revenue goes to tree projects.
- CO2-neutral: Through various projects, Ecosia is not only climate-neutral, but climate-positive. Google also strives to use renewable energy, but admits there's still room for improvement.
- Privacy: Ecosia claims to protect privacy. For example, search queries are not stored permanently or the data is not passed on to advertisers. Indirectly, this also reduces power consumption.
With the green leaf campaign, the project goes one step further. Search results from sustainable companies and initiatives are highlighted with a corresponding symbol:
The search engine works together with eco-labels such as Hilfswerft or natrue.org. Alternatives to Google still eke out an absolute niche existence. But the first discussions about the market power of the internet giants are already here. Maria Steinberg lists more digital ways to plant trees in her blog.
The t3n sees it in a recent article for online retailers quite pragmatic:
Ignoring climate change will be expensive. Retailers need to become carbon neutral.
The author sees this as a "responsibility to future generations. But just as much a responsibility "from a PR point of view. That's one way of looking at it. If it actually helps the environment...
Do you use WordPress and WooCommerce to run an online shop? Check out the guidebook from t3n. It tackles, among others, the following questions:
- What can shop owners do to become climate neutral? Just like Amazon already gives itself a green coat of paint.
- Is offsetting carbon emissions just an interim solution?
- When is a greenwashing allegation justified?
- What advisory services are available on sustainability and environmental protection?
- In which specific areas can CO2 emissions be reduced? For example, the choice of green electricity, in shipping, or in the vehicle fleet.
You don't always have to reinvent the wheel if you want to make your online store more ecological. We have collected exciting posts for you on the subject of "green online stores". You can get great inspiration from the webshops mentioned therein:
- The most sustainable online shops (ecowoman.de)
- Shopping with a clear conscience ("Naturally Beautiful")
- Online stores for fair fashion (magazine "Werde" by Weleda)
Web hosting consumes energy. This does not only apply to the servers themselves on which your WordPress or WooCommerce project is located. The infrastructure of a data centre also requires a lot of resources. As a provider of managed WordPress hosting, we also need electricity for our office, marketing and for our staff to travel. For example, to the WordCamps.
You want to offer your customers a particularly fast portal? That is understandable. But then you use a high-performance web hosting that consumes more energy. In return, features like server-side caching ensure that the data load is reduced.
Green WordPress hosting cannot make the energy needed obsolete. But it can provide a balance. In principle, there are three options to do this:
- Ensure the electricity used comes from sources that are as "clean" as possible
- Support projects that minimize CO2 emissions
- Follow an overall sustainable corporate philosophy
At Raidboxes, we use all three options for our green WordPress hosting. We want to do more for the common good, step by step. With our renaturation programs, we not only work climate-neutrally, but give back even more to the planet:
- We support Eden Reforestation Projects (Eden for short). The non-profit organization works in regions that are particularly suffering from climate change and global deforestation. With the help of our customers, we have been able to plant over 13,000 trees so far.
- Raidboxes uses 100 per cent electricity from hydropower. We are aware that not all green electricity is the same. That's why we pay attention to fair framework conditions with our energy partners.
- In addition to compensating for our green WordPress hosting, we're gradually implementing a corporate philosophy that focuses on sustainability in all areas.
- These are, for example, points such as our vision on the subject of open source and equal opportunities, the concept of the Holacracy , environmentally conscious products and materials for our office or the support of home office and remote work.
Do you also want to choose planet friendly web hosting? And take advantage of managed WordPress hosting for WordPress or WooCommerce? Then take a look at our green WordPress hosting. As an agency, you can do even more: develop your projects for free, recommend our WordPress green hosting, earn top commissions and plants trees at the same time. Check out our Free Dev Partner Program.
Learn more about our "Plant, Prevent, Protect" campaign in this video:
Eden relies on local residents or workers for their projects and pays them from donated funds. That was another reason why we chose to work with this partner. The organization makes an active contribution to the fight against poverty. And this is an essential part of our approach to sustainability.
Your questions about sustainability
Contributed photo: Becca Lavin