Earth Day is just that, a day.
A day to celebrate the Earth and demonstrate support for environmental conservation. A day to raise awareness, to join together as a community in support of a greater cause. A day to say, Hey look! We care! But in the end, it’s just a day.
To truly change the world, we’ve got to look beyond the measure of a day. So let’s look at what we use and the way we use, at that “carbon footprint” we leave behind. This April, let’s celebrate Earth Month.
The Internet, Greenhouse Criminal?
We all do it, sit and stare at that screen.
Need an answer? Google knows! Bored? Netflix can fix that! Need an update? Facebook has, like, twenty million of those.
What we might not do is think about the environmental impact of every search, every download, every video, every email that we open. In fact, many of us probably don’t even realize that the internet even has a “carbon footprint”.
But the Internet actually has a huge impact on the environment. And in fact, with over 2.5 billion people connected to the Internet worldwide, Internet energy usage and harmful carbon dioxide emissions (the “carbon footprint”) are expected to exceed that of all air travel. Currently, the internet releases more carbon dioxide (CO2) than all the oil, coal, and gas burned in some entire countries.
The Internet uses energy and in turn emits greenhouse gases (GHG) by expending coal, natural gases, and petroleum to power and cool devices such as computers, phones, and servers. Much of this energy goes to data centers — the locations of all the servers that store webpages, databases, and files that comprise the Internet.
Every time you perform a search or download information, you connect to the servers in data centers, drawing wind, solar, and geothermal energy. A simple search can can emit up to 7 grams of CO2 per search, the equivalent of driving a car up to 52 feet. That might not seem like a lot, but how many times do we sit at a computer and perform only one search?
But the Internet is Still Good!
We’ve all got a carbon footprint, and the more connected we are, the bigger our footprint. (In fact, the research, composition, and compilation of this blog post have made me something of a hypocrite).
That being said, the Internet isn’t all bad, and I’m not suggesting that all real estate agents with a website or social media accounts should cease and desist immediately. Actually, with the right awareness and consequential usage, we can dramatically decrease our carbon footprint — as individuals and as a whole.
We can do this by changing our personal habits and usage, and by streamlining the efficiency of our sites and social media.
How can we reduce these emissions… and help business?
A great way to reduce your carbon footprint is to streamline the efficiency of your site, or to make people spend less time on your site by converting them faster! From a real estate marketing perspective, this means forced registration, showing people exactly what they want, using visual storytelling, and simplifying overall.
Forced Registration: Don’t let them browse for two hours, make them sign up NOW! Reduce your carbon footprint and get leads in one fell swoop.
Show them what they want: A long list of price point buttons is somewhat uninformative and frankly kind of boring. Show them direct listings instead. Make them click that “Homes for Sale” button.
Simplify: Don’t have a million pages full of information. Cut it down to the bare bones. Have what you need to have and don’t overcomplicate your site. Simplifying can also reduce loading time, which is both browser-friendly and eco-friendly.
Use Visual Storytelling
This is a big one. And it might not seem to make sense right away — aren’t pictures larger than text, and therefore a larger draw of data? — but the power of the image is undeniable. A picture’s worth a thousand words, right?
Actually, a picture might be worth a little more than that — the brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than text, which makes visual storytelling a powerful tool indeed. So instead of a wall of text (which most viewers just scroll through anyway), use a picture. Simplify, cut down on the amount of information processed, on the amount of scrolling and clicks, on the time spent staring at your site.
Reduce your carbon footprint and drive conversion simultaneously.
The bottom line is efficiency. Less = more. Let’s streamline. Let’s work together.