Digital Ecology: How Can You Mitigate the Carbon Footprint of Websites?

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Did you know that about 250 000 websites are published every day? The majority uses too heavy fonts, unnecessary images or utilises redundant libraries generating carbon footprint. ec0lint is a tool for frontend developers that mitigates the carbon footprint of websites by showing tips on how to create a more climate-friendly code. Thanks to code optimization ec0lint can help in reducing emissions from 1.8 g to ~0.2 g per one view saving 216 kg CO2 for each website (-88%!) annually.

Katarzyna Wojdalska
Katarzyna Wojdalska
7 min
05 Dec, 2022

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Video Summary and Transcription

Today's Talk discusses digital ecology and reducing the carbon footprint of websites. Techniques such as using JavaScript or TypeScript, lighter libraries, and optimizing resources can reduce the carbon footprint by 70%. User data collection is important for sustainability, and the Ecolint tool helps make websites more sustainable. It's an open-source tool that can be downloaded and customized.

Available in Español

1. Digital Ecology and Website Carbon Footprint

Short description:

Today, I'll discuss digital ecology and how to reduce the carbon footprint of websites. The internet emits CO2 through data collection, transfer, and end devices. The ICT industry contributes 4% of greenhouse gas emissions. To create sustainable websites, use JavaScript or TypeScript, consider lighter libraries, cache data, and optimize resources like images, videos, and fonts. These techniques can reduce the carbon footprint by 70%. Additionally, using a dark mode and choosing a host provider with efficient power usage can help.

Hi, I'm Katarzyna and today I'm going to talk about digital ecology and how to mitigate the carbon footprint of websites. So what is digital ecology? It's a field of study about the interdependence of digital systems like the internet and the natural environment.

So long story short, everything we do online and what we do offline with our devices generates carbon footprint. But to be clear, digital ecology is not about stopping people from using the internet. It's all about using more sustainable routines that help to mitigate the carbon footprint of the ICT industry.

So how does the internet emit CO2? It all starts with data collection, with servers, data centers and the cloud. Then we can think about the data transfer and power lines. And last but not least, end devices. At each of the steps we have to think about powering all these devices, all those data centers and cooling them down. We also have to mention the energy and the natural resources needed in manufacturing the end devices.

So is it important? It quite is. The ICT industry stands for 4% of all greenhouse gas emissions. What can we do about it? Let's talk about websites. Every day 250,000 new websites are being published and each of those generates 1.8 gram of CO2, It sums up to 216 kilograms of CO2 annually. Have you ever wondered how much CO2 does your website produce? You can quite easily check it by using one of the most popular tools online called Website Carbon Calculator and it helps you with the formula to calculate what is the amount of CO2 that is being generated. It takes into consideration the website size, the end user traffic and the average global energy emissions.

So how can we create more sustainable websites? There are quite many techniques. Let's start with programming languages. So by using JavaScript or TypeScript, we can make our website much less heavier than by using a platform like Wix or Word Press. We would also have more control over the code and thus we can leave some unnecessary parts of the code. When thinking about libraries, ask yourself the question, do I really need all of those? Maybe there are some lighter libraries that you could use, or maybe you could just use the built-in fetch or just try writing those comments in plain JavaScript. Think also about calls to external APIs and about caching the data. And when it comes to resources, there are three main things that you have to consider. So images, videos, and fonts. When saving images, use SVG or WebPi as the formats. Videos, save them always in WebM. And fonts, of course, it's much better to use system fonts than those hosted online, and if you are saving them, use WOFFT instead of the TOFF. By using just this simple know-how, you can mitigate the carbon footprint by 70%. It's also good to have your website in a dark mode. And when picking a host provider, take a look at the power usage effectiveness of the data center and read also their behavior policy.

2. User Data Collection and Ecolint

Short description:

User data collection, including tracking and personalized ads, is crucial for mitigating the carbon footprint and improving loading time and SEO. We've developed Ecolint, a linter that suggests code improvements to make websites more sustainable. With Ecolint, you can transform your website into a more sustainable version. Download Node, install Ecolint and EcolintStyle, initialize the configuration, and run Ecolint. It's an open-source tool, and you can contribute or collaborate by reaching out on LinkedIn or leaving a star on GitHub.

Last but not least, user data collection is also an important topic and this refers to data collection, user tracking, and personalized ads. So why do all this? First, of course, we can mitigate the carbon footprint and save electrical energy. But this also results in shorter loading time for your user, which is essential, and better SEO.

Together with my team, we develop Ecolint, a linter that proposes code improvements to make websites more sustainable. By using Ecolint, you can easily transform your website into its more sustainable version. We are currently developing new features, and with Ecolint, we aim to save up to 88% of the carbon footprint generated by websites.

To get started, download Node and install Ecolint and EcolintStyle. EcolintStyle is for CSS and other CSS-like languages. Initialize the configuration and run Ecolint. Ecolint is an open-source tool, free for everyone to use. If you'd like to contribute or collaborate, feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn or leave a star on GitHub.

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