It’s estimated that the internet generates around one billion tonnes of greenhouse gases a year, which equates to roughly 2% of global CO2 emissions – about the same as air travel.
Climate change is real, and with figures like that, we can’t deny the impact our industry has on this growing problem.
Sustainability is at the forefront of our ethos at Solve, and the environmental impact of the digital marketplace is something we care deeply about. At Solve, everything we do is driven by the principle of growth. Every website is designed to grow sales, every SEO strategy is developed to sprout leads, and every blog post is written to cultivate followers. We make businesses grow. So it seems only fitting that we use this idea of growth to help solve the negative impact of the internet too.
Through The Forest of Solve, we’re planting much-needed trees – symbolising growth and reducing the environmental impact of our industry at the same time.
The Carbon Footprint of the Internet
17 of the 18 warmest years on record have taken place since 2001. Global temperatures are now at their highest since records began. With facts like these, climate change is undeniable. In today’s world, our excessive energy consumption and fossil fuel burning is driving an uncontrollable amount of carbon (or CO2) into our atmosphere, which is leaving us with a bleak future for the environment.
And our increasing digital dependency is only exasperating the issue. You might not realise it, but everything we do online passes through a computer or data centre somewhere in the world – every search, every email, every social media post. You don’t typically think about these things as tangible objects that need fuel, but everything has to pass through a physical, electronic system that needs energy to function and to keep cool.
And the energy it needs is staggering.
Like we said, the internet generates about the same greenhouse gases as the aviation industry.
Back in 2009, US physicist Alex Wissner-Gross claimed that one Google search used as much carbon as boiling the kettle. Google refutes this though, estimating that one search emits around 0.2g of CO2, which is roughly the same as powering a lightbulb for 17 seconds.
Watching a YouTube video generates around 1g of carbon for every 10 mins of viewing, while Facebook estimates that the average user’s carbon footprint is around 269g of carbon, about the same as a cup of coffee.
The internet giants are making an effort to reduce and offset their carbon footprint though.
Google has been carbon-neutral since 2007. They’ve invested significantly in energy efficient data centres and the development of clean energy. They also recondition their servers where possible, and sell off components/hardware that are no longer needed, rather than dumping them in landfill. Google also matches 100% of its energy usage with renewables. In 2017, they confirmed their total purchase of wind and solar energy was actually more than their worldwide usage, including their data centres.
Establishing The Forest of Solve
At Solve, we’re tackling the environmental impact of the internet by planting carbon-eating trees.
How does planting trees reduce carbon dioxide?
Trees are pretty cool. As they grow, they actually absorb carbon out of the atmosphere and the soil, and turn it into oxygen. Unfortunately, at the same time as releasing more and more carbon into the atmosphere, we’re actively cutting down trees for farming and housing development. So there’s just not enough trees to absorb all the carbon we produce.
To put up a stronger fight against climate change, we need to treasure our trees, stop deforestation and plant more carbon-absorbing forests.
How much carbon dioxide do trees absorb a year?
The amount of carbon absorbed by trees depends on the species, where they grow and how well they thrive. Tree-Nation, for example, plants Vochysia lehmannii in La Pedregoza, Colombia, which can absorb up to 14kg of carbon per year.
Recent studies have shown that there’s potential to plant billions of trees worldwide without encroaching upon crop land or urban areas. If we planted trees on all the available land, we could remove two-thirds of all the emissions generated by human activities.
How is Solve helping get more trees into our environment?
Every month Solve plants trees for the planet with the help of Tree-Nation. Tree-nation enables people to do their bit to reduce their carbon footprint by gathering and coordinating reforestation efforts worldwide. The platform is home to 180 planting projects across 33 countries, making tree planting easy for companies and individuals. And they even calculate the CO2 you offset with each tree planted, meaning you can see the impact you’re having at a glance.
And they don’t just plant trees willy-nilly. They plant trees in areas that have been devastated by deforestation and where new trees will re-establish damaged ecosystems and even stimulate local economies. For example, they plant trees for the Adivasi Bhatra tribe who rely on the forest for security and livelihood. Tree-Nation is planting 25,000 native trees across 5 villages to help restore the ecosystem and rebuild the rural economy.
Through Tree-Nation alone, Solve has planted 1201 trees to date, offsetting 24.15t of CO2.
And every month, we plant 100 more.
A New Tree for a New Client
For each new client we get, we plant a tree especially for them. Besides offsetting CO2, the tree symbolizes the establishment of a mighty, long-term relationship. As the roots of each tree grow deeper, we delve deeper into your business, weaving a sophisticated SEO strategy to increase your reach online. As your tree flourishes and your business prospers, new opportunities can sprout for your business, just like new branch shoots. Beautiful!
We’ve also planted trees with the global network of nature lovers at TreeSisters. This admirable organisation has helped businesses and individuals plant over £6 million trees in India, Amazonia and beyond.
We’ve also been involved in revitalising our local environment. The humble beginning of Solve began in the idyllic hamlet of St Eval on the North Cornish coast. We’ve been investing back into the village at our roots, by getting involved with the St Eval Land Project. This project is building a beautiful green space in the heart of the community for laughter and learning while supporting the local ecosystem of animals, insects and plant life. Solve has donated funds towards materials and has been on-the-ground, getting muddy and planting trees with our bare hands (OK – so maybe it was gloved hands!)
So far, The Forest of Solve consists of over 1500 newly-planted trees. We get a little tingle of pride to see the tree-counter on our website grow each day as our battle against climate change continues.
And we’re reducing our carbon in other ways too…
The average website produces 4,700 pounds of CO2 a year – the same as driving a modern car for more than 5,000 miles. Our optimised web servers host hundreds of websites and are powered by renewable energy, significantly reducing the carbon footprint of every client we work with.
Our office is solar-powered, so while we’re burning the midnight oil (so to speak) boosting search engine rankings, we are NOT actually burning fossil fuels.
Every day changes have been put in place for our team to be more planet-friendly. Our loo roll is made from recycled paper, made by a company that invests money back into improving sanitation in the developing world. We invest in compostable takeaway boxes to use at the local cafe, coffee capsules are bought locally and biodegradable. Our Christmas prezzies are wrapped in classy brown paper and milk gets delivered in reusable glass bottles.
And as our business grows and our Solve powers reach further afield, we’re starting to offset the carbon we generate on our longer business trips too.
But we’re not done yet…
Sustainability, tackling climate change and being as eco-friendly as possible are cornerstones of the Solve ethos. We strongly believe in using our powers for good as we grow within the SEO and web design world. The Solve office is a hub of sharing new, innovative ways to keep our Earth in good shape and our carbon footprint down. We have some really exciting plans for the future, and we can’t wait to share them with you.
If you want to talk trees or tech, do get in touch – we’d love to hear from you. We might even plant you a tree!