Paul Hill by Paul Hill

Why 2022 could be the right year for sustainable websites

  • Accessibility
  • Sustainability

The recent COP26 summit left us with a stark warning; we must reduce carbon emissions, and we must do it quickly. Yet what many people don’t understand is how the internet ー which has become the core of our lives ー is affecting our climate.


Over 4 billion people are active internet users, most of which will have multiple devices. You only need to consider how many charging cycles those devices need to get an idea of how much energy the internet uses.

3.7% of all global greenhouse gas emissions are produced by internet usage, more than most countries! This figure is predicted to double by 2025.

Despite this, the leading powers are struggling to come to an agreement on how to tackle this impending crisis.

A top-down approach 

Generally, we rely on governments to instill real change. Sustainability is no different. However, governments are currently focusing on systematic changes in fossil fuels, or the motor industry.  

They can be effective. Back in 2009, California’s government introduced a rule to slash carbon emissions from automotive fuels in an attempt to reduce the state’s carbon footprint. Fast forward to 2021 and we are seeing national level changes across the globe, such as the UK’s shift to E10 petrol.

As their attention is focused elsewhere, we need to look to bottom-up sustainability until legislation catches up to the changes we desperately need.

Consumers can effect change, too

Bottom-up sustainability puts the power back in the hands of consumers. It can influence policy by setting an example of the behaviours we should be performing. Small changes to an individual’s actions can quickly add up to do real good, and that’s how we should look to tackle the carbon footprint our digital lives leave behind.

We are already seeing some consumers trying to be more conscious of the energy it takes to browse the internet. Common practices such as shutting down your computer rather than leaving it on sleep mode, unplugging chargers even when not in use and reducing screen brightness already help curb emissions. 

Consumers can also research the platforms they are using to see which companies are using renewable energy for their cloud services.

Help consumers make better choices

What could you possibly do to push customers towards energy-conscious choices? It may surprise you to know that the answers already exist. Thunk has been championing sustainable and ethical design for a while now. 

Minor changes to your websites can help consumers reduce their digital carbon footprint, while also helping your business find its way towards becoming carbon neutral. We believe that 2022 will see consumers choosing businesses based on if they offer a sustainable website or not. 

Ready to join in?

Here are our top tips to help you get started

Optimise images

We all know that high-resolution images look amazing, but they’re also one of the biggest sources of energy consumption ー contributing towards longer loading times.

Ask yourself, do you need to include all those images? Do they serve a purpose? For the images that are essential, you can use lower-resolution pictures to reduce their impact.

Use video sparingly

Video can be helpful when presenting products, but ー as with images ー too many can bump up your website’s carbon footprint. 

Remove video backgrounds, don’t set your videos to autoplay and embed them directly onto your site, rather than using a video hosting platform.

Use lazy-loading

This allows consumers to only load what they see. As they scroll, more of your website will load instantly, providing no disruption to the user experience.

Web caching

This downloads your site’s shared assets ー such as JavaScript, CSS and images ー and stores them on the user’s device. This means that returning visitors only need to load the content from the web server once, as the data is already available to them.

Delete unused content

E-commerce websites regularly leave out of stock products on their website. While this may help your SEO, it’s irritating for potential customers and bloats your website. 

Deleting out of stock listings and any unused or unneeded content reduces your site’s size while also reducing your carbon footprint.

Need a hand building a sustainable website? 

Thunk doesn’t just make great looking websites, we create a better digital experience for your customers. That includes helping them make more environmentally conscious decisions when browsing the internet.

Get in touch today and receive 5 days of FREE UX & design consultancy