Green issues are the most important thing to be talking about right now

17th Mar, 2023 | green

I have always had a deep interest, or should I say concern and anxiety, about environmental or "green" issues. I've done volunteer conservation work, trained in conservation skills and used those skills as a professional dry-stone waller for many years until life took me in a different direction. More often than not I'm thinking about how I can reduce my impact on the environment because I want to co-exist with my surroundings instead of slowly destroy it.

I've been in the tech industry for a long time now and I've never really encountered any consideration for the environment, presumably because everyone thinks that software isn't inherently bad for the environment. As the saying goes, a computer program is zeros and ones, so how can that do any damage to the air, land or sea?

Sure, you need a device to run that software, but unless you are mining cypto (a terrible idea) it should run quickly and not consume much energy. We also have the term "cloud computing" which implies that the software just runs in a magical place that doesn't really exist on the physical plane.

Because of this mentality I've focused my efforts to reduce my carbon footprint on the traditional things - limiting fossil fuel travel, reducing energy use, aiming to buy locally, limiting plastic (plastic is another terrible idea), etc.

I never really considered how I could expand this into my software trade, until I was made aware of this statement:

If the Internet was a country, it would be the 4th largest polluter in the world and is expected to grow considerably by 2030.

What. The. Fuck.

This is a jaw-dropping, mind boggling, terrifying statement. Just re-read it, think, then re-read again.

This shocked me for two reasons.

  1. The staggering accumulation of all this software can be thought of as a single forest destroying, oil burning, savage machine. I always knew there is an impact so this should not have been a surprise, but the sheer size was completely unexpected.

  2. People are talking about this and have formed a movement. This link is just that one I found first. I soon realised that there are many similar organisations and efforts to tackle this problem.

I wanted to join in, get involved and do something to contribute no matter how small and seemly insignificant. You know, you're either part of the solution or you're part of the problem.

My first action

One of the tools I first stumbled on was a service to measure the environmental impact of your website. Of course this cannot be a precise science and must rely on some hand waving but it's still a good place to start.

I anxiously entered the details for my little website and waited for the report. Good news!

Hurrah! This web page is cleaner than 94% of web pages tested

I was hoping for something like this because I have, believe it or not, already taken as much care as my feeble HTML/CSS skills allow me to ensure there is as little markup, javascript and CSS as possible. Result.

But wait, scrolling down revealed some bad news. I am not using green hosting.

I had not considered this at all. I have heard rumours of bicycle powered (only kidding, probably geo-thermal or hydro) server hosting in Switzerland but never really looked into it.

That was it, I had to switch.

I did some research and found many services for Wordpress and CPanel type hosting but I needed full control of a server so I could tinker. I eventually found a company that appeared to tick all the green boxes and would not cost me more than I was currently paying so made the switch.

After the DNS dust had settled I rechecked with the carbon checker and confusingly still received the report that my site was not green and I would rot in hell for my sins. Remember the "it's not a precise science" thing? Well checking with similar carbon checker site did report my site as green and squeaky clean, so I assume the first checker is missing an entry in it's "good hosting" list.

I'm glad I ended up having to use another checker because it offered me a badge to unofficially certify my site with tree hugging status. I wanted this badge badly, so immediately started wrestling with HTML and CSS to make it fit and look like it has always been there.

If you scroll down you will already see it, but I'm so proud let's see it here too:

This website is hosted Green - checked by


What is next?

I would like to think this is only the beginning. I've created a new tag for "green" blog posts so this is indicating to my subconscious to not only take more positive actions but also blog about them, in the vain hope that others might see and follow a similar path.

Oh, the irony

Before anyone mentions it, the irony of using websites and software to preach about the damage websites are causing has not escaped me.

By writing this I'm creating yet another webpage on a very bloated web. But is it better for me to delete my site and go out onto the street and start shouting and waving a sign? If I lived in Silicon Valley...maybe, but I think with my current location and shouting ability I'm better off sticking to online.

After all I only stumbled on this by accident, and I was already in the industry with a lifelong concern about the environment.

So, if you stumble on this please consider what you could do and pass it on. It all adds up.