Carbon Footprint

Why should I care about my site’s carbon emissions?

Good question. Chances are that if you’re reading this you already have a gut feeling that there’s a good reason to care. There’s a few different reasons that I personally thing are important. (And a few have direct business impact.)

Ultimately the main reason I think you should be caring is the same reason for which you should be caring about everything else: its good citizenship. We have ample evidence that carbon emissions change our environment for the worse and we’re already seeing direct effects of that change.

But let’s break that down into some specifics.

Personal and business ethics

Simply put, there is a good reason to care about the carbon emissions of all aspects of your personal life and business operations. From travel, commutes, and office or household operation to food production and clothing, everything can have a positive or negative impact.

If you simply think of carbon emissions as “littering” it might become easier to grasp. We tend to frown upon littering of any kind: be it simply throwing a wrapper away in the street or leaving a mess in the office toilets. There are good reasons for that including respect for co-workers and neighbours, creating or maintaining a good home or work environment, and basic hygiene.

Carbon emissions are a form of litter as well. Just because we don’t see them directly doesn’t make that any less true.

So just like after an expo or conference you clean up your shit, you should be cleaning up after yourself on the broader environmental level as well.

And for many businesses, especially online-based operations, the website used to sell your products or provide your service is something you should pay attention to. Once again, just because you don’t see the direct effect (much exacerbated by the fact that the actual hosting typically happens very far away from your physical location) doesn’t mean its not there.

Therefore if you subscribe to the fact that carbon emissions are a form of litter, than you should care about your website’s emissions even if they’re not in your backyard.

Improve company culture and employee retention

Being an ethical organisation contributes to a world-class company culture, which in turn attracts top talent, which in turn attracts loyal customers. Its a simple equation that has been well-explained by better people than me.

Environmental ethics are the next step of world-class company culture. They go hand-in-hand with diversity, inclusion, income equality, parental rights, and flexible work environments.

On the flip-side you also stand to create strong bonds with your staff and generate higher levels of employee loyalty. More and more people are looking to work for companies who have genuine environmental credentials. Caring about your environmental impact — including at the website level — is likely to generate stronger feelings of pride in your workforce and long-term reduce your staff turnover.

Promotion and customer loyalty

Not every customer cares about environmental issues but it’s a growing segment. And all indications are that it will keep growing.

Customers of all kinds are both being pressured to make more environmentally conscious choices and they’re becoming much more educated about the issues involved.

Being able to genuinely say on your website that your service is provided in a carbon-neutral way (even if its just the website for starters) will help you attract a new and growing group of people. If you want to think about it in pure economic terms, it’s the same reason companies publicise their sponsorships of local or global charities and groups.

There is also a first-mover advantage here. Being a carbon-neutral tech business is a not a common thing but it will likely become one. Acting early and being one of the first will make sure that you’re not playing catch-up down the line.

Additionally, you can use your environmental credentials to deepen your existing customer loyalty and improve retention. If you’re not sure how, your marketing department can probably come up with some neat ideas but, at a basic level, even including a short note in a regular newsletter or at the bottom of transactional emails can make an impact.

Ensure the industry’s sustainability

If you’re a climate emergency agnostic (or denier) then this bit is probably not for you.

But if you do think that human-made climate change is a problem, then you need to understand that its a growing problem. We have not yet hit a downturn in global CO2 emissions and while governmental policy changes are required for a that, personal and corporate responsibility are also a big part of the equation.

The unfortunate logical conclusion to this (without being too doom-and-gloomy) is that without collective action we are going to hit a point of significant disruption to what we nowadays consider “normal life”.

This includes the ability of online business to transact.

So if you care about your employees’ welfare and your ability to remain in business for the long-term, then paying attention to your carbon emissions — and this includes your website — is of extreme importance.