Sitegeist Web Services

Minimising your websites carbon footprint

Why I live in the mountains and why I’m joining the collective.

The desire to find a different pace and way of life brought my wife and I to the Three Valleys 10 years ago. We left corporate jobs in the UK to run our own chalet business and spent the next 8 years welcoming guests to the mountains that we love. We got to work, live and play in the mountains all year round and found a community with shared beliefs and ideals. We weren’t sure what we were looking for when we arrived here but what we found was a feeling of community, a connection to nature and our surroundings and a shared love of the mountains and outdoor life.

Our lives changed again when we welcomed our little boy into the world in 2014. We wanted to raise him to appreciate the things we love about being here. We wanted to ski with him, explore the mountains and show him the rare privilege of living in such a beautiful place. There was a problem though. Running a business where the busiest times were the weekends and school holidays meant that as he grew older, our time was spread too thinly. We couldn’t give our all to family, work and play without feeling we were neglecting something or someone. We needed to change again.

All of which is a long winded way of explaining how I came to be a web designer challenged to be more eco friendly by Gav and the One Tree collective. We sold our chalet business and went back to a more “traditional” Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 life. I built on the coding and web design knowledge I had built up in running our website and turned that into my job. While I’ve been used to change in the last few years it has been a tough 12 months building a business from scratch, finding clients and looking for a niche to occupy in a crowded industry.

This brings us to the present day and joining the collective. I’ve helped Gav and the Boot Lab with some web projects and the One Tree at a Time initiative fits in with changes (that word again) we have been making as a family in the past few years.

During the course of a conversation with Gav about the One Tree website the issue of how “green” a website can be became a recurring topic. What is an eco friendly website? What does it look like, do they work differently and how do you build one? My interest was piqued. After a bit of research it became clear that eco web design is very much in its infancy. While other industries are making great strides in reducing the environmental cost of their products and services, the web design and hosting industry hasn’t had a green revolution yet.

So the challenge was set. If I can’t find many people offering an eco design service I should offer one myself. Become an eco friendly web designer. Work in a different way and be the change I want to see in the world. I guess I’m now the One Tree at a Time eco web design ambassador. I’ll need some new business cards (made from eco friendly products of course).

The first change I am making is to move all the sites I host to a hosting company that runs on eco friendly electricity from renewable sources. Websites and email accounts take up huge amounts of server space and the carbon cost of this can be massive and unseen. I want to do my part to reduce my impact.

The second change is to make new sites as efficient as possible. A site that takes a long time to load costs more in energy and resources than a quick, lean one. It hurts your search engine visibility and it hurts the environment. Over the coming months I will be working on the One Tree site to make it look beautiful, tell our stories and reduce it’s impact on the world, while maximising the impact of the project. I will take what I learn during this and implement it into all the projects I work on. It’s inspiring, scary and important. It’s a niche I want to occupy, grow and shout about. It’s a challenge that I blame Gav and his energy and enthusiasm for and thank him for it too.

At home we’ve been making mindful changes in the way we live and the impact we have. I think living close to the natural environment inspires you to want to protect it. We are far from perfect but our diet has become more plant based than I could have imagined a few years ago. A dinner with meat in is a rare treat these days. Our wardrobes are being refreshed with organic, ethical or second hand clothing as our old clothes wear out and can’t be fixed anymore. Our technology is being fixed and repaired rather than replaced.

I want to make the equivalent changes in my work and help other businesses do the same. If we can plant a load of trees while we do it then so much the better.

What is the most positive environmental impact that you have made?

Moving my sites and the sites I host to a green hosting company running on renewable electricity.

Which individual pledge are you focused on delivering in the future?

Making leaner, cleaner, more efficient websites to minimise their carbon and energy cost.