As designers, I firmly believe it's our responsibility to mitigate the impacts the things we make have on the planet, its people, and our climate. So I've make a pact to hold myself accountable by tracking, reporting, and committing to minimizing the damage my work does.
Here's a look at what I've done—and committed to—so far.
Starting in 2021, I'll be offsetting the emissions from my site's page views at 1.5x their CO2 equivalent through the National Forest Foundation.
I've switched web hosts, optimized images and code, and rebuilt my site statically, without a bulky CMS, to make it load even faster.
Starting in 2021, I'll be donating 2% of my income from every client project to local land conservancies and climate action organizations.
Local trails have never been more important and loved, so I'm committed to picking up and packing out at least 100 pounds of trail trash each and every year.
I've signed the Sustainable Web Manifesto and have publicly committed to working towards its principles across my site and in my own work moving forward.
I've always had a pact (and still do) to keep dangerous companies or groups—like oil and gas, tobacco, firearms, and regressive lobbies—far away list of clients.
SYRCL works to protect the 30-plus Wild and Scenic miles of the South Yuba River and fosters community environmental activism.
CSPF helps fund, maintain, and expand parks and protected areas in California and works to make them more accessible for all Californians.
BYLT is the local land trust for the Sierra foothills; they protect, restore, and expand access to public lands, trails, parks, and open spaces.
POW advocates for action and policy that protects wild places—and the people who depend on them—from the effects of climate change.
This section is intended as a running tally of what I've done to reduce my site's carbon footprint—and what more I have to do to shrink it further. I owe a lot of the information here to Wholegrain Digital's blog and Tim Frick's O'Reilly book Designing for Sustainability, both of which are wonderful.
Briefly, switching to a greener web host, reducing the size and number of files (images, scripts, stylesheets) each page needs, and using fewer bulky items (large images, videos) has gotten me this far. For more details, read on.
This site is hosted with AWS Lightsail, based in the US West (Oregon) region. I recently moved from Mediatemple, largely due to price and because AWS purchases carbon offsets (Mediatemple doesn’t offer renewable hosting—yet). Just by switching hosts, I was able to cut down the emissions per page view by an average of 9.5%. While a host that runs entirely on renewable energy would have been preferable, AWS has made a public commitment to moving from offset credits to renewable energy over the next several years.
Why does this matter? Hosting and serving up all of the pages that we visit on the web uses massive amounts of energy. Unfortunately, many of the providers that host websites aren’t powered by clean energy, meaning that each time someone visits your site, you’re relying on energy derived from fossil fuels to get it to them. Switching to a host that uses renewable energy cuts down on the carbon footprint your site creates.
Why does this matter? The larger the size and number of files, the more energy loading each individual page takes up. Since many energy providers still use non-renewable sources like coal or gas to generate electricity, the less energy each page load uses, the fewer the emissions produced to load it.