The internet is one of the great marvels of our modern time. The whole world is at our fingertips every time we connect. This vast network pervades our lives and connects us. It brings us the news and becomes our library. It can give us front row seats to the opera or put us on the ground in war zones across the globe. It can put a post office, a bank, and a shopping mall in our living rooms, and yet it doesn’t seem to really “exist” anywhere. There’s no gigantic internet headquarters where the whole thing is developed, produced, and maintained.
This leads many people to neglect the possibility of a green internet. How could something so nebulous have any real effect on the environment? If the internet is nothing but data, and we can fit huge amounts of data in finger-tip sized devices, why should it matter? The unusual truth is that it does matter. The internet is not green by a long shot. Service providers and hosting companies require huge amounts of power to run their servers, and the source of that power is what could (but often doesn’t) make web hosting eco-friendly.
Aside from running power into their servers, hosting companies require great amounts of energy for cooling systems and fire suppression. Think about how hot your laptop gets when its processing power is being pushed to the limit, and then imagine that amplified by about ten thousand times. Servers process so much data on such a large scale that they need incredibly powerful measures to keep them cool and safe. All of this adds up to a carbon footprint much bigger than the average person would expect. It’s an unfortunate reality–even the internet is destroying the environment.
However, some companies have taken up the green flag and begun working to make a change in the past few years. More and more web hosting companies are making their services as environmentally conscious as possible. Many companies are enforcing strict policies on printing and recycling to cut down on paper waste. Others encourage employees to carpool to work to cut down on automobile emissons. Yet the greatest advances have been made by those who take this movement for change directly to the source–the power source. Some progressive web hosting companies have started powering their facilities on wind and solar energy, using green electricity to make the net sustainable.
The internet is growing day by day, and as it grows it will only become more important that hosting companies minimize their impact on the environment. Millions of people own and operate personal websites and blogs, and even more are being created every day. These people have a choice–if they buy their WordPress hosting from one company, it could be entirely eco-friendly. Buy from another, and they could be contributing to irresponsible power usage and environmental destruction. In the end, as always, it is up to the consumer to make the responsible choice, but there is finally a choice to make, now that web hosting companies are going green.