When I started this blog I had little to no idea what I was doing. I didn’t expect it to become a job, to meet incredible people from the worlds of sustainability and social justice, I didn’t expect anything really. I just wanted to bring awareness to things that I thought were important and, seeing as I’d been writing fairly seriously since I was a child, a website seemed like the obvious way to do it. With the only code knowledge to hand being the bits I learned to customise my Myspace page back in the day, I paid for a URL and signed up for a free and easy to customise web hosting platform, thinking nothing of it for about a year.

Cut to 2017, and I learned a little more.

The problem with website hosting

I’m pretty sure most of us don’t know much about the impact website hosting can really have. In fact, I don’t think many of us understand how the internet really works, myself included (remember this scene?). The basics are these: a website is basically a load of files. HTML, images, posts, all that stuff. All of these files need to be stored in a folder on a computer that is connected to the internet, that computer is called a “server” because it serves up the website files when people come to visit, like a little internet waiter. When you pay a company to put your files on their web server, you’re buying hosting. They are hosting your website on their servers. (source) To keep your website online, those computers stay online 24/7. The data centres for our websites are built specially to keep their servers online at all times, however the powering of data centres and cloud computing runs on fossil fuels, and is coming close to rivalling the aviation industry as a major contributor to global carbon emissions. Yikes.

These days there are 3 billion users online, and this is set to climb to 7.6 billion by 2020. It’s easy to see where this is going; the demand for online data will continue to grow and along with it the electricity needed to power the data centres (as well as keep them cool and functioning properly) and as a result an increase in the pollution produced from fossil fuel electricity generation.

When I learned this, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Here I am trying to talk about ethical and sustainable living. I’m certainly not perfect, I still take aeroplanes sometimes, but I’m trying. But the actual tool that I was using to do this was contributing to huge global pollution levels. Was I causing more harm than good by having a website?

Wind Power for my website

As ethical and eco-friendly bloggers, business owners and everyday people we are always looking to be more responsible in the way we work and in the things we purchase. For those of us in the business of sustainability often it’s the immediately obvious things that are dealt with first, like purchasing recycled stationery, using eco-friendly packaging, cutting down on waste and using like-minded suppliers. Often one service that can often be overlooked is the hosting for your website, but there is a solution out there. Wind.

Using website hosting to reduce your carbon footprint

Hosting your website on servers powered by 100% renewable energy is a real, tangible way of making sure your business, blog, or any other type of website is kinder to the environment.

This month I switched to Green Website Hosting, a hosting service that is powered 100% by renewable energy, all year round. Their Centro data centre in London, which houses the hosting servers, routers and cooling systems runs entirely on wind generated electricity from UK wind farms which belong to ScottishPower Renewables. Because the energy is supplied via the grid, the power does not stop if the wind isn’t blowing, nor does it need to fall back on fossil fuels. It remains as reliable as ever and as green as always.

On top of this their data centre isn’t wasteful with that green energy, instead being designed and built to use electricity as efficiently as possible. By extracting hot air from the building and using naturally cold outside air (let’s be real, the outside air in London is nearly always cold) through the water based chillers, the cooling systems do not need to be constantly at full power as they would in traditional data centres, meaning they use less energy. Win win.

Run by a Green & Ethical Business

Green Hosting are committed to keeping their hosting service green to the core. Since they founded their parent ethical web design business (Make Hay) in 2004 they set out to make sure it had as little negative impact on the environment as possible.

They have full environmental and ethical policies but here’s a quick list of the things that they value:

  • They use a renewable electricity provider to power their office base
  • They recycle as much as possible from the office including paper, equipment and e-waste
  • They use suppliers with positive eco credentials and they seek high quality, energy efficient computer equipment
  • They actively choose to sell their web and hosting services to responsible and positive businesses and organisations only. From looking at their Clients page I know that I’m in good company

I switched to Green Hosting a week ago now, and I honestly feel it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. As ethical writers and influencers there’s always more for us to learn and do, but I’m glad that my main vehicle for communicating this with you all is now definitely not causing harm. It was also incredibly easy to do. I worked with Jez who helped me quickly and easily import all of my website information across to their servers whilst also helping me find a whole new design (I just sent him screenshots of what I was interested in and he replied with a host of options to choose from), importing everything into that new design, making sure everything was working properly and then putting it all back online. It took about 48 hours start to finish, I barely had to lift a finger, and now I’m set for life. What else could you ask for? Green Hosting say they offer personal, friendly support, I can definitely confirm this. Jez even contacted me outside of office hours to keep me updated on how things were getting on, which really is going above and beyond seeing as my website went back online on a Saturday.

Green Hosting’s lowest hosting price is £5 per month and their highest price is £10 per month for hosting, so it’s not exactly breaking the bank either. It’s like, the price of three coffees. A tiny bit of money to massively reduce my carbon footprint? Sign me up.

I really hope any of you with websites out there will consider making the switch to wind power. If you would like to know more, you can contact Jez or Vicky at hello@green-hosting.co.uk, tell them Ethical Unicorn sent you!

Until next time, stay magic y’all.