Does this website make my carbon footprint look big?

Zone
3 min readApr 25, 2023

Zone’s Lead Content Designer, Turi Henderson-Palmer, provides five actionable tips to make your digital usage greener while achieving business and sustainability goals.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but as the world continues to focus on digital solutions as the only solution, we’re increasing our energy consumption faster than renewable resources can keep up. Since digital solutions aren’t going away, the next best thing is to manage them more efficiently and effectively to (hopefully) reduce the damage they’re causing.

Viewing (and reviewing) your content through a sustainability lens is a relatively easy way to do that. Here are five things you can do right now to improve your digital presence and have a positive impact.

1. Do a complete content inventory

This means making a list of every page and every asset you have and then reviewing their traffic and usage. What you’ll probably find is that you have a lot of pages and assets that simply aren’t performing for you.

GET RID OF THEM.

This act alone will considerably reduce your energy usage and give you a much more manageable collection to work with.

2. Reduce, reuse, replace

Take a close — very close — look at everything that’s left, and identify where you can make improvements. Can you shift toward a more text-based approach? Are there chunks of text that you can re-write so they’re shorter or useable in more places? Are there videos that could be photographs, photographs that could be illustrations, or colour choices that could be changed to more sustainable palettes? Any adjustments you can make to reduce page weight will result in more efficient energy usage.

3. Maybe don’t have an app for that

Downloading and using apps transfers a lot of data. For example, Alisa Bonsignore, in her presentation on creating sustainable content at an Utterly Content conference, suggested that the 2 billion Instagram users downloading the app and then using it regularly can generate upwards of 150,000 metric tons of emissions every day. EVERY. DAY.

For comparison, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, ‘a typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year,’ which makes that the equivalent of nearly 32,500 passenger cars’ yearly emissions. EVERY. DAY.

4. Streamline your campaign email and email campaigns

Weekly marketing email messages to huge mailing lists, which most recipients aren’t reading anyway, can be reduced in size and frequency. Aim for text-based and less often — your emissions can, in some cases, be reduced by half, as can your customer’s aggravation from having to delete a bunch of digital junk every week.

5. Have a plan

As we know, Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance. If you take the time to develop a strategy for your content that embraces sustainable practices, you can get out in front of the pack when it comes to reducing your energy emissions. Making sure every piece of content has impact and adds value, reaches the right people, and hits the right notes is a step in the right direction.

Bottom line…

Thinking of your content in terms of sustainability is good for the planet, no question. That alone should be enough, but if you need to get your organisation on board, there’s more to it than that: sustainable content results in a better user experience, a better user experience typically results in a higher engagement and conversion rate and that, of course, is more likely to lead to improved profits. Win/win.

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Zone

We write about customer experience, employee experience, design, content & technology to share our knowledge with the wider community.