Tips for an eco-friendly website

Today it’s World Environment Day, organized by the United Nations since 1974. It started to spread awareness about environmental issues all over the globe. At Yoast, we believe that the environment is the responsibility of everyone: nations, companies, and individuals. That’s why we want to explain how you can help the environment with your website! Additionally, we’d love to take a moment to explain how Yoast contributes to the environment as well.

How to save the environment and save money at the same time with your website

Whether you are part of a big company, a self-employed web developer, a hobbyist with their own website or anything in-between, know that you can help the environment with your website and, as money makes the world go round, you can save money too. How? Let’s explore the following options!

Update to the latest version of PHP

Unfortunately, there are still a lot of (WordPress) websites that are not on PHP 7 yet. Not only is it safer to upgrade because of security reasons, but did you know that running the latest version means that you use fewer resources, meaning less energy? You are literally saving the world by upgrading your website to the latest PHP version.

If you are unsure how to update or on which version of PHP you are, contact your web host. For more information, see this article about what PHP is and how you can help!

Updating to the latest PHP version means more security and a faster website. If that’s not enough reason for you, you can now add: saving the world to that list!

Update to the latest WP release

When you’re running on the latest PHP version, be sure your WordPress version is updated as well. We’re not just talking about major releases here, but especially about the smaller releases. Why? Often, these smaller releases hold fixes that make the code a lot more efficient. If you are not updating because of security reasons, do it for the planet ;)

Keep your plugins up to date

Most WordPress websites have several plugins installed. If you’re anything like me, there’s a chance there are plugins on your website that you’ve installed once and hardly ever use. If that’s the case, it’s time to go through your list of plugins and deactivate and delete every single plugin you do not use. Please test before you do this, of course. I’m notoriously known for breaking my own blog because I went a bit too happy on the cleanup process.

Another step you can take is making sure all your plugins are up to date. You can easily see this when you check the update tab in your WordPress dashboard.

It’s also wise to check your theme for any unused functionality that does get rendered. You might need to check with your website developer to get this done. The benefits will be tremendous though, not only in load for your web server but also for the site speed.

Use a caching plugin

Caching is used to store data so that a future request can be served faster. This improves speed time, but also fewer resources are being used. At Yoast, we are a fan of WP Rocket. WP Rocket has a caching plugin that makes your website faster and reduces resource requests tremendously.

Go even deeper in the technical stuff

Do you want to gain even more? You’re in luck! Jimmy has written an extensive article about reducing the HTTP requests to make your website faster. And Michiel wrote an article about optimizing your browser’s cache.

How Yoast helps

We told you what you can do, but you are probably curious what we do at Yoast for the environment as well. Trust us that there isn’t a day that goes by without someone discussing what we can improve, both offline and online!

Innovations

Last week we’ve explained why we release the plugin every two weeks. We believe in innovation and efficiency, that’s why we do smaller releases and love to clean up obsolete code or to make certain functions faster and more efficient. We went from a PHP run analysis to a JavaScript one in Yoast SEO 3.0 to not put so much pressure on the server. And from JavaScript to React in 5.9. So, how does this help? By releasing smaller plugins that are built more efficient, the plugin will use fewer resources, which is better for your web server. As Yoast SEO and its add-ons offer a lot of features, we realize it is not the smallest plugin you can get out there. We do strive to make each release a tad more economically efficient than the previous version.

And if you believe you can help us with that and live near our offices, don’t hesitate to apply for a job!

Environment at the office

So you know we try out best to stay efficient on the web, but does our office life resemble this? It does. We have solar panels on the roof of one of our buildings and a couple of years ago we banned the disposable cups in our offices. We have a lovely facility team that thinks about how we can produce less waste and they remind us actively about this.

We try to send our people to conferences close by, meaning that if there’s a conference in the United States, but there’s one that’s just as good in the Netherlands, just 100 kilometers away, we’ll be sending the team to the one 100 kilometers away. We encourage everyone within the company to improve their knowledge, through courses, but also through (e)books, online learning tools and of course conferences and meetups close by. You don’t have to travel far to learn a lot.

As our offices are located in a small town and are lucky that many people who live here, also work here, we want to give back to the local community as well. We do this by sponsoring local events. We believe in giving back. Not only in the local community, but in open source as well. Our profits grow as the company grows, and we believe that the community, the WordPress community, the local community, and the world, should benefit from this.

Of course, there’s always room for improvement! But by making small steps and inspiring each other, we can improve the world.

We’d love to hear from you how you’re helping the environment today. Tell us in the comments or on social media!

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10 Responses to Tips for an eco-friendly website

  1. Coach Chris
    Coach Chris  • 2 weeks ago

    Interesting spin on some of the typical tips for improving your website. I imagine the benefits they offer the environment are microscopic, nonetheless in trend with the (hopefully) new direction humanity should be aiming to maintain. Thanks for your thoughts and time to write this.

    • Caroline Geven

      Yes, the benefits might be microscopic if just one person does it, but imagine if we can get half the world (or everyone) to do this! Improvement always starts with just one person making the world a better place.

  2. LotusEco
    LotusEco  • 2 weeks ago

    Selling organic clothes online we do everything we can to work eco-friendly. Apart from the things you mentioned we also keep our size down to a minimum in the cloud, meaning backups, dev sites etc.
    We have installed an insect hotel and planted insect friendly plants on our back yard. We only eat vegan food in the company. We use certified green electricity. When we need a new computers we get refurbished ones that are 2-3 years old and use Ubuntu/Linux on them which are more light weight than other operating systems.
    And the main thing we do is to sell only certified organic clothes with the GOTS-certification all the way from field to finished product.

    Thanks for bringing this important topic up!

    • Caroline Geven

      That sounds so awesome, thank you for taking the time to place a comment! Sounds like you know what you want to add to the world and how to improve it.

  3. Oliver Green
    Oliver Green  • 2 weeks ago

    Hey guys, great post with some good tips. We are actively following these tips on our site and are a big fan of Yoast so glad to hear about the efforts you are making. I’m sure as good Dutch you’re also using the bike a lot!

    I’d like to share a tip for reducing waste at work, especially plastic. If you take a pack lunch try packing your lunch in a reusable natural fibre cloth bag and use a cloth napkin instead of disposable types. Cloth bags are really useful as they can also be used to purchase unpacked food produce, fruit and veggies. We use them a lot for packing kids snacks too for school.

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      Willemien Hallebeek  • 1 week ago

      Hi Oliver, That’s so nice of you to say, thanks! Actually, a lot of Yoast employees live in Wijchen and cycle to Yoast every day. Also, many of our people from Nijmegen, the biggest town nearby, travel by train. And we’re super spoiled, we get lunch at work every day, so we don’t even have to bring lunch ourselves :-) Thanks for your tips!

  4. Rahul Asthana
    Rahul Asthana  • 2 weeks ago

    Hi Caroline,
    Thanks for your article, 1st time I have heard about eco-friendly website. People are mostly focusing on mobile friendly, user-friendly….by this article people can understand what exactly website should be.

    Thanks

    • Caroline Geven

      Thank you and you’re very welcome!

  5. Mike
    Mike  • 2 weeks ago

    Your recommendations might be perfect for silcencing the concsience, but will do literally nothing for making a website “greener”. The most important single factor is page load. That means: less images and a light WordPress installation for as few server requests as possible. Not to mention embedded youtube clips. Streaming consumes more energy than anything else in the web.

    • Caroline Geven

      Hi Mike,

      Thanks for your reply. I do agree that working on your image size is quite important as well. That’s why I personally am a fan of the lazy loading option in WP Rocket. Thanks for your suggestions and tips!