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Carbon MythBusters Quiz: The big reveal

Date: 2023. 05. 17 13:11

In our Carbon MythBusters quiz, we’ve listed a few myths that you might have gotten wrong—or maybe you were right, but it was more of an inkling than a certainty. Either way, it’s important to have an accurate understanding of what contributes to a website’s carbon footprint and where to put your focus if you want to measure and decrease it. Are you curious why green hosting is not the be-all and end-all solution you might have hoped for? Do you wonder how much compromise is necessary when optimizing a site for carbon reduction? Now we’re here to reveal the truth!



Myth#1: Nearly 65% of a recent survey’s responders said they reduced their use of a brand after finding out it was not acting sustainably.

Correct answer: False

Explanation: That might have looked like a significant amount, but the percentage was even higher than that. According to a 2021 PwC 2021 study, 80% of consumers more likely to buy from a company that stands up for environmental causes. The same survey also showed that it is vital for employers to know how deeply the company they work for cares about sustainability: 84% of respondents preferring not to work for a company that does not prioritize the environment.

Myth#2: Green hosting makes your website emitting no CO2e.

Correct answer: False

Explanation: Green hosting helps websites reduce their carbon footprint by only 9%. It’s great first step on the way to a website’s sustainability, but it’s far from solving all your issues or making your website “zero carbon”. Also, not all green hosting solutions are created equal. Before you commit to moving your website to a green host, you should look into how much and what kind of renewable energy they use, whether they are (mostly) green because they are purchasing offsets, and whether they are transparent about their PUE rating (which stands for power usage effectiveness, it’s the standard energy efficiency measure for data centers that represents the proportion of energy powering computers compared to other systems such as cooling and lighting).

Myth#3: Reducing the carbon footprint of your website will compromise quality.

Correct answer: False 

Explanation: That definitely doesn’t have to be the case. If you’re doing it right, your customers might not even be able tell which one is the carbon-optimized version when looking at before and after screenshots. Since we redesigned our own website, it produces 94% less carbon while the content remained unchanged and the UX even improved. If you wonder how, we wrote about the process and some tips and tricks here.

Myth#4: Carbon footprint of a website is based on the size of the files it is made of.

Correct answer: True

Explanation: The various images, videos, codes, and other files that users’ browsers download when they open a page have a direct effect on the net carbon emission: the more bits need to move around, the more energy is required, and that energy is always responsible for some amount of carbon (more when it comes to fossil energy sources, less when it’s renewable). That’s why it’s concerning that the ongoing digital transformation resulted in not only more and more functional websites, but their size has also grown 5-10x over the past decade.

Myth#5: Carbon footprint of a website is based only on the size of the files it is made of.

Correct answer: False

Explanation: First thing first, the carbon footprint of a website is affected by more than just the size of the files, it also depends on factors like how clean your code is and whether you’re using a custom or a system font. Using green hosting can also positively affect the amount of carbon produced – although if you read our second answer, you already know that it can only be part of the solution, not the solution. But all these elements only add up to the net (per page load) carbon footprint of a site, and looking at the total footprint is crucial. That gross footprint is directly proportional to the page views of a page. Evidently reducing the number of visitors is hardly anyone’s goal but analyzing traffic patterns and being conscious of the net carbon footprint that traffic magnifies is key when it comes to reducing your overall carbon emissions.

Myth#6: By reducing the size of your website, you save energy.

Correct answer: True

Explanation:  When a user visits a website, their device must download all the necessary files from the web server (HTML, CSS, JavaScript, images, and so on). The smaller the site is (and the more returning visitors you have, whose browsers already cached some of these files and hence require less data transfer), the more energy you can save.

Myth#7: The value of brand does not reflect whether it is considered being sustainable or not.

Correct answer: False

Explanation:  In recent years, both consumers and investors have recognized the importance of sustainability in determining the value of a brand. Why? Consumers are becoming more conscious of the value of getting environmentally friendly and socially responsible products. As a result, a brand’s sustainability can increase consumer trust, and influence its reputation. It can also be translated to billions of dollars: according to Brand Finance’s Sustainability Perceptions Index 2023, that calculated sustainability perceptions values, Amazon’s was the highest at US$19.9 billion. Other notable brands at the top of the ranking include Tesla (US$17.8 bn), Apple (US$14.65 bn), and Google (US$14.6 bn).

Myth#8: Pictures are one of the key players when it comes to reduction.

Correct answer: True

Explanation: Images have a major effect on the carbon footprint of a website. On the websites we have examined so far, pictures on average were responsible for 17% of the carbon emissions (their share ranged from a single digit all the way up to a whopping 74%). According to HTTP Archive, picture sizes have also ballooned over the last decade, where the average desktop version picture is currently about 1 MB (a 120% increase) and the average mobile version is around 860 KB (a 316% increase). This trend is only expected the continue without intervention. The good news is that there are plenty of tools that can easily decrease the file size of a photo or graphics, often without any identifiable visual degradation. Simply put, pretty much no one need this large image sizes on an average page, and it’s one of the easiest ways to realize not only carbon reduction gains but also decrease page load times. Other key players include videos, downloadable files like pdf-s and scripts (like PHP, Python, JavaScript and jQuery).

Myth#9: Reducing the carbon footprint of a website by more than 50% is not possible.

Correct answer: False

Explanation: As already mentioned above, this new iteration of the Carbon.Crane website has just 6% of the first versions’ carbon footprint, and we didn’t have to sacrifice the content or the UX (we wrote about what we did here)—so it’s definitely possible. We can’t promise the same for every website, but it is worth knowing that even a 15-20% reduction can mean saving metric tons of carbon, because it really does matter what the traffic magnifies. We’d encourage you to reach out, so we can determine together what results could be achieved by measuring your site. 

Myth#10: Ongoing, near-real time monitoring of the carbon emission of a website is possible.

Correct answer: True

Explanation: Our Website Carbon Monitor provides just that: a comprehensive and detailed overview of your website’s carbon emissions in a user-friendly interface. Through analysis of inbound traffic and traffic flow through your website, our monitor can help identify opportunities to reduce carbon emissions and model their impact. We provide all the necessary expertise and tools to measure, analyze, reduce and monitor your site’s carbon performance—and even a badge for the footer of your site to show the world that you are consciously and actively working to reduce your website’s carbon footprint.


Do you want to know more about how we monitor website carbon emissions? Request a demo!

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