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3 Ways to Lower Your Website’s Carbon Footprint This Earth Day

Based on a quick glance at the calendar we concluded that there are only two holidays that you would celebrate by performing mathematical calculations. 

The first holiday that leaps to mind is Pi Day, but Pi Day is more of a charming coincidence than a genuine commemoration or celebration. And, while wildly entertaining, dividing 22 by 7 is a calculation you perform for the remainder of your days.  

The other candidate is Earth Day, when the citizens of the planet express their support for the environment via activism and by pledging to do their part to lessen humanity’s impact on our home. 

So here’s your Earth Day calculation.

A website’s bandwidth consumption is another way of expressing the site’s carbon footprint. When you consider how many data-rich images and videos are needed to power a modern digital experience, then factor in how many visitors medium and large businesses attract to their sites, it’s easy to see how bandwidth consumption, aka emissions, can add up. 

Here are two carbon calculators to help you calculate your carbon emission score.  

Website Carbon Calculator  

Image Carbon Calculator 

Read on to discover more innovative ways you can lower your carbon footprint and reduce emissions.

According to a report from McKinsey & Co., enterprise technology emits about 350 to 400 megatons of carbon dioxide emissions each year, representing about 1% of total global greenhouse gas emissions. Within this statistic, the retail industry alone represents around 15 to 20 megatons of CO2.

Brands largely recognize that they are responsible for a sizable digital footprint and many are taking steps to reduce it. A separate McKinsey & Co. report found that more than 65 global retailers have set science-based goals to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, up from just a handful back in 2016.

One of the priority targets for efficiency improvements is sustainable website design for corporate sites. According to Wholegrain Digital, which runs Website Carbon Calculator the average web page produces 1.76 grams CO2 per page view. For a website with 100,000 monthly page views, that’s already more than 2,000 kgs of CO2 per year. SEMRush data shows Walmart gets more than 350 million views. The impact can be huge. 

What can brands do, though? Business success requires getting more traffic. It comes down to maximizing efficiency.

Going green doesn’t mean going lean. No reason to not think big when it comes to engaging with consumers online, including continuing to produce data-rich immersive experiences. All brands need to do is limit the bandwidth that each asset consumes. Here are three of the most impactful ways to achieve that:

  1. Control the cache

A cache is a temporary storage area that mimics a website or a mobile app’s content. The content is hidden and stored away but immediately loads when a user returns. A cache efficiently reduces overall bandwidth because it does not require a request to be sent to a backend server for every visit. And, if a brand uses a content delivery network (CDN), which is a system of distributed servers across many data centers, the cache can reduce the load even more. Even better, a multi-CDN approach can pick the most efficient delivery for every customer’s unique viewing context.

  1. Leverage lazy loading

The term lazy loading refers to when a site will only load large-file images or videos when it needs to. For example, if there is a high-data video at the bottom of a page, the video only loads when the user scrolls to watch it. Lazy loading requires less data to be transferred up front and consumes less energy without negatively impacting the user experience.

  1. Increase automation

Perhaps the greatest way to reduce a digital footprint is by incorporating automation tools programmed for optimal content delivery. These tools run at all times, automatically deploying the most efficient asset possible while ensuring video and image quality remains picture-perfect to the viewer. These automations intelligently select the file type and visual quality to keep sites running fast, with minimal bandwidth consumption, without sacrificing impact. 

Brands no longer need to accept tradeoffs between quality digital experiences, profitability, and sustainable website management. They can (and should!) still invest in high-fidelity images and videos and immersive experiences that customers want to engage with. By focusing on sustainability they will improve page speeds and the user experience while keeping CO2 emissions to a minimum. It’s win-win-win. Who doesn’t love that?

More info on how Cloudinary is helping brands reduce emissions can be found in our  State of Visual Media Report. Want more on how Cloudinary can enhance video and imagery responsibly, contact us here.

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