Sustainable Web Design: An Environment-First Approach To Internet

“If the Internet was a country, it would be the seventh-largest polluter in the world.” What? How is that possible? Wasn’t a shift from physical to digital supposed to help the environment?

Well, the digitization of our world does help with conserving trees and metals but the amount of Carbon Dioxide (CO2), greenhouse gases, and other toxic waste digital devices emit frankly counters any help that does to the environment. Also, energy is needed to power your devices and web services so indirectly that does deplete the physical resources too. Oops!

There must be something we can do, right? Absolutely!

What is sustainable web design?

To solve the issue discussed above, a concept called “Sustainable Web Design” was introduced and is becoming popular day by day. This concept focuses on the usage and designing of the internet and websites in a way that puts the planet and people first. It is a mixture of environmental conservation principles and usability standards that reduce the emissions and carbon footprint of the internet as well as improving the web for users.

But a thousand other things are affecting the environment, right? Why should this be your focus? 

Well, I could bombard you with several scary statistics to prove how many chemicals the device that you’re reading this on depletes and emits but I prefer to sugarcoat things (literally too quite often). Let’s see what we all have to gain from sustainable web design and development.

Benefits of sustainable web design

The sustainable web manifesto lines out 6 principles to create sustainable websites and services. Let’s see what those are and how following these help with user experience and sustainability.


“The services we provide and services we use will be powered by renewable energy.” By doing that, the resources used in producing the energy will be used up slower and will last longer.


“The products and services we provide will use the least amount of energy and material resources possible.” The less you use, the more will be available for everyone! Everyone not only includes the current population but also our future generations.


“The products and services we provide will be accessible, allow for the open exchange of information, and allow users to control their data.” The information you have to share spreads quickly and everyone can contribute their part in making it better!


“The products and services we provide will not mislead or exploit users in their design or content.” The Internet started as a way of learning together and easily sharing what we know. Let’s keep it that way and with improving technology, let’s improve our ethical standards too.


“The products and services we provide will support an economy that nourishes people and the planet.” Using environment-friendly providers will help ensure that we are saving the environment and not worsening the issue.


“The products and services we provide will function in the times and places where people need them most.” Doing this will broaden the reach of your website or services and more people will benefit from the cause you are working for.

Isn’t that stuff great? Sign the manifesto to show your commitment to nature. Do it right now, we will still be here when you are done!

Your contribution to a sustainable web experience

  • As a businessperson or a developer, what can you do that will count towards these principles? Let’s discuss a few points that you can start implementing today:
  • Choose companies that care about the environment for website hosting and cloud services.
  • On your websites, optimize images to load faster, cache what can be cached, and delete what’s not needed.
  • Do and encourage others to send fewer emails, minimize video conferencing, and use refurbished hardware whenever possible.
  • And lastly, do you love dark themes? Yes? Then you already support sustainability as using a dark theme, on average, saves 39%-47% energy!

Follow SustainableWWW to know more developer or business-specific tips for improving your web design for both users and the environment!

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Michael Andersen
Michael Andersen

Michael Andersen is the author of Sustainable Web Design In 20 Lessons and the co-founder of Sustainable WWW (World-wide-web), an organization teaching sustainable practices. With a passion for web design and the environment, Michael solves puzzles to make the internet more sustainable.

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