Creating a responsible website

I recently finished reading Naomi Klein’s ‘No Logo‘, a book I should have read about 8 years ago when it was first published. Even though it was written almost a decade ago much of what Klein has to say is still relevant and still enlightening.

Much of the second half of the book revolves around the idea of legitimate corporate responsibilities, not just talking about it but actually doing it. Klein focuses on production techniques and the use of sweat shops and how corporations have to become more accountable for their actions as consumers are increasingly educated on such subjects thanks to the power of the Internet.

To a degree she touches on the environmental impact of corporations and this started me thinking. At what point will companies have to legitimise the ‘greenness’ of their corporate websites. When will consumers look beyond mere products and actually consider the impact of digital services. More to the point how could a website be completely responsible, both socially and environmentally? Effectively the idea of a carbon neutral or ‘green’ website.

What is a green website?

The idea of an environmentally conscious website would have to look beyond purely having ‘green’ content or feigning corporate responsibility through the often controversial topic of carbon offsetting. I’m sure there are plenty of carbon neutral schemes that are highly successful but I think it would be far too easy to simply calculate the carbon footprint of a website and then pay to have it off-set. Plus this blog post would end about here!

A green website would have to be supported in every way by ecologically responsible means from the server it sits on to the computer that made it.

At this stage honesty takes over as I have to admit I haven’t given this the greatest amount of thought yet, however I  hope to be able to give more time to it over the coming weeks. For now I’ve tried to outline the key areas that could combine to create a green website:

  1. Hosting – how do you host it? whats the most environmentally friendly server?
  2. Production – what technology (e.g. a ‘green’ computer) is used to create and maintain it?
  3. Users – what is the impact of visitors to the site? How can we reduce not only our footprint but the impact of our users?

Over the next few weeks I’m going to look into each issue in turn and see what the reality is, what is currently available, what are the possibilities for the future and if there’s not a zero impact option whats the next best thing?

Part 2 – Hosting a responsible website

I’ve begun researching each topic and will start by focusing on hosting. As I’m not the most technically minded geek in the world any help would be appreciated. If you have an opinion on this subject please feel free to get in touch or leave a comment.

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