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๐ŸŒŽ Happy earth day .

Gemma

Gemma /

To mark the occasion of earth day, we have decided to make any of our future sites or apps carbon neutral by planting trees every month to offset their emissions.

To mark the occasion of earth day, we have decided to make any of our future sites or apps carbon neutral by planting trees every month to offset their emissions.

We've spoken before about one of our passions being the environment - doing what we can when we can to reduce our impact. We started building a tree planting API (Be the forest) but stopped as someone else did it before we launched and did it pretty well. Learning about what we can do to help the environment is a constant learning curve, and we are by no means perfect, but we do our best. Here are just some of the things we've started doing at home:

  • Reduced consuming animal products (meat, fish, dairy)
  • Reduced the use of single-use plastic.
    • Shampoo bars instead of bottles
    • Soap bars instead of shower gel
    • Buying options that don't come in plastic (food etc)
  • Refill containers instead of buying new ones for common house hold goods such as washing up liquid, hand wash etc
  • Reduced food waste
  • Sold our car
  • Invested in a litter picker and do frequent beach cleans

BUT.... what have we missed? Websites!

Bloody websites! Being web developers and overly conscious of the environment, one would imagine we'd have thought about our career's impact. Still, naively it's not something we hugely thought about until now.

According to the online carbon calculator Website Carbon, the average website produces 1.76g of CO2 for every page view; so a site with 100,000 page views per month emits 2,112kg of CO2 every year.

Source: Wired

We're in an environmental crisis, and most people are beginning to look at their impact and different things they can do to make better choices. We started to think about offsetting the carbon emissions on the websites we are building at this point.

There are two main ways in which websites create carbon emissions. I'll try and break it down a bit to make some sense to non-techy people who have websites and would like to know more about the impact their stack has. When I say website stack, I mean the compilation of software set up, especially for implementing websites and web apps. If you are techy, I apologise for boring you with things you already know.

Here are the two main impacts:

Servers

All websites need a space to live, the way we've always explained it to people is it's a big car park (a server). Within the car park, you have parking spaces, and that's where your website lives. That car park has got to live somewhere, we may not be able to see it physically, but it's there. Because we can't see it, it's easily forgotten about, and so is its impact on the environment. As you can imagine, there are an awful lot of servers holding a vast amount of websites across the world. And what do the servers require, electricity, and a lot of it!

The internet consumes a lot of electricity. 416.2TWh per year to be precise. To give you some perspective, that's more than the entire United Kingdom.

Source: Website Carbon

From our research, we've found that the only two major platforms that are powered by fully renewable energy are:

  • GCP (Google Cloud Platform)
  • Microsoft Azure

Other companies are more ambiguous and have some regions that are powered by renewable but not all, such as:

  • DigitalOcean
  • Vercel
  • AWS
  • Netlify - this is more complicated, it's multi-cloud, and they're relying on other providers

Users

Another way in which a website impact the environment is the amount of traffic your website has. Every time a page is loaded, it's using power on the users' laptop/phone. The more traffic to your site receives, the more energy is required.

What can we do

One thing website owners can do is to find out if their hosting is powered by renewable energy. If it isn't, then see if it's possible to move it over to hosting that is powered by renewable energy. If that's not plausible, then you can offset your websites stack's carbon footprint by using a tool such as stack.earth. The statistics hit us hard, and the stark realisation that we can't just sit back and ignore it got us thinking. That's when stack.earth began!

stack.earth

Going back to making our sites offset emissions, we wanted a way to automate this as we build more and more sites. stack.earth is going to connect to the most popular provides that power sites and apps such as AWS, Netlify, DigitalOcean and Vercel and will monitor the resources you are using. At the end of each month, we will tali up the different types of resources used and donate to tree planting charities to offset their emissions. The more resources used, the more trees we plant.

We wanted to build this to offset our impact but realised others might also find this helpful; therefore, we've decided we're going to make it a non-profit service for others use and also offset their emissions.

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