The Sustainable Web

There were many takeaways from this year’s Telecom World.  An overarching topic from the conference was the tech sector’s role in clean technology. We discuss sustainable technology a great deal on this site.  Here at Global Wire Associates, we are always thinking about how we can make a difference.  A couple of years ago, we created a company green policy and embarked on a year-long awareness Recharge E-waste campaign, which led to our book on the same topic.  

Climate change is a very real concern globally, and our technology use is partially contributing to the problem.  Did you know that the Internet’s carbon footprint is larger than the entire aviation industry?  Our increasing appetite for computers, mobiles and tablets is decreasing the earth’s resources very quickly.

Here are some ideas tech enthusiasts should think about regarding a more sustainable web.

Backward Compatibility

This is the process of making a product or software application workable with an older product or software application.  In many Western countries, many people purchase new electronics or software applications approximately every two years.  This is driven partly by the product’s obsoleteness, as there is always a newer version of everything coming onto the market these days.  The consumer culture around technology has also changed as well in recent years.  Waiting in line overnight in front of an Apple store just to be among the first buyers of the latest “iThings” is commonplace.

However, it is not uncommon to see people in the developing world who have owned their mobiles for seven or eight years, and their operating systems are most likely outdated.  This is because the cost of buying a new electronic can be prohibitive.  Web professionals should consider creating products and software applications that are energy efficient, backward compatible and accessible, allowing for older electronics to be more useful for longer and reduce e-waste.

Sustainable Energy

This is a no-brainer – our society needs to increase its use of alternative energy.  We only have to look towards the sun for this one.  And, no, we are not just talking about building more solar panels (even though that would be a great idea).  We need to be supporters of the growing sustainable technology sector, and take a serious look at innovative projects like bike-powered phone chargerssolar backpacks, Moonshot servers and solar chargers.


Those of us in the tech world love going to tech conferences and hang out with other techies.  Hey, who can really turn down the unlimited food at the dizzying number of receptions and networking events?!  However, all the traveling and electricity used to produce such events really are a drain on resources (and wallets).  Teleconferencing is a more cost and energy efficient way to organize many events.  Global Wire Associates cut down on many in person workshops this year for this very reason.  While there is always going to be a need to have in person event, it would also be a good idea to figure out new ways to integrate teleconferencing when organizing such events.  Furthermore, according to Blake Burris of the Cleantech Initiative, teleconferencing has already reduced business travel by 30 percent.

Sustainable Web Design

There has been a lot of talk as of late that web design needs to be more lean and green.  All those high resolution images and video slideshows on your site might be great, but all this multimedia slows down websites and uses more energy.  As a matter of fact, today’s average web page is 15 times larger than it was 10 years ago.  In the very near future, eco-friendly web designers will have to think about creating web page size budgets, optimized images, “content first” strategies, and green hosting.

Approximately 2.7 billion people – 40 percent of the world’s population – are online, and pretty much everyone else on the planet will have Internet access by 2020.  With these new users will come more climate problems if we don’t start taking the sustainable web more seriously.

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