There are thousands of things we can do to advance a more sustainable internet.
Below you’ll find a list of the ones we gathered through brainstorming, workshops, and feedback. We've used a "double diamond" approach, i.e. we went as wide and broad as possible, generating ideas regardless of feasibility or likelihood. You can keep adding to them and help us link out to projects and research that may bring them to life.
We then narrowed these down to a few top ones (below) that have sparked most feedback and engagement so far.
It's a process and we'll keep going wide to narrow it back down again, until a clearer path to action emerges.
Top Ideas (to date)
It’s a living document, what flies and what doesn’t will change as we keep iterating and learning about what’s possible and desirable for greater environmental sustainability on the internet.
Sustainability Engineering as a career pathway
- Sustainability engineering should be an recognized professional specialization as well as a skill integrated across the engineering field.
- Similar to accessibility in web development, sustainability should be foundational in any developer's practice. See: https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/Accessibility
- Sustainability engineering should be incorporated into computer science courses, educational programs, on the job training.
- Learn to count carbon. Ensure your budgets account for carbon costs as well as financial ones. Remember that climate inaction is also a cost.
- Encourage and teach others to set carbon budgets.
- Publish carbon calculations and sustainability reports in machine-readable formats.
- Use Platform, Packets and Process to categorize carbon costs for digital projects. https://planetfriendlyweb.org/
- Quantify and openly publish tests and measurements about the carbon footprint of your digital work. Compare that carbon cost of other activities, like flying or running a load of laundry. This helps build a better understanding of how "expensive" internet-related activities are.
- https://people.eecs.berkeley.edu/~rcs/research/interactive_latency.html, but for carbon.
Change the Aesthetic
- What is desirable in one era can seem outdated and undesirable years later when societal norms change. We should design and code for a new sensibility, one that is irresistibly sustainable.
- Think of tech as a fashion-driven industry. Make the transition irresistible, and the everyday injustices outrageous.
- Jobs may change, but we only have one planet. There are a lot of questions employees and prospective hires can ask (and do):
- For example: "Does this company collaborate with the fossil fuel industry?"
- Is there a public commitment to net zero emissions?
- Is there a public timeline to reach net zero emissions?
- Are there public independent audits of progress on the way?
- Is there disclosure of how much revenue or business partnerships come from projects to help extract fossil fuels?
Use equity for equity
- The work you do isn't the only lever you have. Money works for you too.
- Shares in your pension delay climate action - ask and switch.
- Stock you are paid in can force discussions that need to happen.
- Divest your pension. https://gofossilfree.org/resources-tools/
Time to serve the planet
- Make time to contribute to climate action.
- Many organizations support the model of 20% time, meaning that you have some hours during your work week to explore something that you care about. Other models include dedicating a day a week, like Fridays, to commit to working on this. Whatever the model that suits you, it's about prioritizing the issue by putting your time to it.
- Develop organisational, local, national, or regional programmes like a civil service for environmental sustainability.
- Understand that algorithms and misinformation play a key role in delaying climate action.
- Develop information recommendation algorithms in a way that favor science-based information.
- Optimise for truth, not clicks.
Extend the lifecycle of electronics
- Hardware and electronics that are connected to and power the internet are also extremely expensive for the planet. Most electronics, such as mobile phones, have a very short lifespan. Advocate for extending their usage.
- Advocate for the right to repair, the design and development of more modular and easily repaired electronics, the skills and support systems to repair, e-waste re-purposing and recycling, and better organizational policies to use hardware for longer.
List of 1000 ideas
- Reverse the pursuit for growth
- Future proofing: Space Internet! Energy and bandwidth are precious. Efficiency is more important than abundance. Interplanetary internet. EHTP HSML.
- Meta: quantify environmental impact of different measures
- How much does a bit cost?
- Transparency: the more we know, the more we can make better choices
- Machine-readable Sustainability Transparency Reports
Manufacturing, hardware and recycling
- The right to repair
- Manufacturing phase: gather data about environmental cost hotspots
- Green manufacturer ratings
- Recycling and reusing all computer components
- Ecowires: what does complete wireless and hardware cost?
- H2O: how much water is used in the production of hardware
- How does the hardware get sourced? Fairphone!
- Use feature phones and other developing country technology
- Big tech: who is really sourcing and who should be more accountable?
- Hardware recycling
- Support for old hardware / BL compatibility
- Transparency in production and usage
- The browser as a demonstration site for sustainability engineering
Hosting and data centers
- AWS: find the geographical location of servers
- Geo-IP: client can find IP of servers which hosts
- Move hosting to areas with renewable energy—in real time
- Green Dat Site (also decentralized!): Dat hosting service built into Firefox. Guaranteed green hosting.
- AWS, Google, FB: quarterly report on cloud service providers
- Green host
- Team up with Green Web Foundation and use their database of green hosting
- Move to renewable energy for all cloud resources (AWS, CI, Release Engineering, Web Hosting, etc.)
Cache, routing and decentralized protocols
- Cache: is there a caching proxy
- Caching: make data local
- Download/cache mops etc
- Eco-routes: impact of choice
- Cache more static sites.
- Data cache planning
- How do we analyze the future
- Firefox green CDN cache (Opera does this in Africa)
- Gamify visiting small sites
- Edge caching of content
- Edge computation to reduce computation in network centers
- E-waste commons (localized)
- Openflow: more even network energy distribution
- Local browsing: intelligent routing
- Decentralized internet (to reduce routing costs)
- Punish energy consuming websites
Measurements and usage data
- Time is up: Calculate the time to use tech to minimize footprint
- Energy star rating for software
- Daily browser carbon budget
- Data diet. Group carbon loss plan? Peer pressure.
- Carbon budget: Switch to low bandwidth.
- Ecosia reverse. "You saved 3 trees worth of CO2 from loading ads."
- Server room power? During the night? AC?
- Power consumption statistics
- Device durability and longevity
- Footprint of each website
- Save your data for future enjoyment: plain text in the morning, Netflix at night.
- Eco budget timer
Web development and developer tools
- carbon.txt: headers in carbon.txt
- Static websites
- Is a website dynamically generated?
- Produce less data. Use less energy.
- Carbon tab in inspector
- Greenhint: provide service for audit and limiting (like Lightbeam)
- Machine learning to suggest green practices
- Dark mode stylesheet override
- Energy rating for libraries and frontends
- Stack of energy saving tech
- Archive Wayback changes API
- Freeze-mode for website developers (freeze SS when tab in background).
- Analysis tools
- Scripts to modify social sites
- Static site CMS
- Implement and advance carbon.txt
- Devtools for showing CO2 usage
- Better tooling for people who develop Firefox
- Better tooling for web developers
- Tools to give visibility to energy consumption, green web hosting
Developer relations and documentation
- MDN section on how to build lighter websites. https://webkit.org/blog/8970/how-web-content-can-affect-power-usage/
- Sustainable web design as an industry standard
- Blog posts, Talks, Standards, Libraries
- Libraries that help promote green development
- Coalition building with existing libraries to reduce their footprints
- A series of blog post: Front-end frameworks based on how much energy they use
- “The true cost of code…”
- Help people set up websites on renewable power
- Use android components as a 3Rs - reuse, repurpose, refuse
- Tech Speakers as advocates for the green web
- Incorporate green practices in MDN
- Check website's carbon print and optimise: https://www.websitecarbon.com/
- Add-ons: Add-on which slows down site when user is using carbon-intensive websites
- Reducing file size
- Internet minimalism: static sites
- Lazy loading
- Processor lock
- Time sessions in browser
- Firewall for background requests
- Slow down websites (penalty or tax)
- Browser remembers stuff. Learn not to keep going back.
- Eco-mode site usage tracker: time/CO2/data
- Firefox Geolocation: to see how green. Use geolocation in the place you browse from
- Request by default mini resources
- Show site meter over time: This site is 70% bigger than other sites.
- Slow load of tab on heavy sites, incentivize small sites
- Offset the usage to be more ecological
- Browser shut-down when energy limit is up
- Browser warning if browsing website is not on green energy
- If you are browsing a website that is not green, slow down speed by 10.
- Compare power consumption and carbon footprint from browsing with peers
- Encourage browsing locally. Option to only search local sites.
- Plant a tree per million request.
- Browser extension to show countries of origin
- Biking browser
- Reduce idle wakeups in Firefox, limit idle wakeups in websites as much as possible
- Experiment with lower frame rate
- Stop websites from network polling
- Promote Offline mode & make it better
- Develop a reader mode only
- FF Focus for desktop
- Privacy mode reframed/cross-promoted as eco mode
- Suggest “stop browsing” after long sessions
- Blocklist third parties that are known as environmentally unfriendly (or use Tracking Protection in Eco Mode)
- All images are dithered
- “Trustmark” Icon (similar to ublock or other awareness tools) with info about resources being used (could also point people to partner sites to create awareness)
- Add-on monitors emissions & displays results
- Tab sleeper
- Throttle BG tabs more.
- Pause BG tabs
- Suspend everything not in the foreground (“just this tab”)
- Eco Ad Block: Don't buy this!
- Block ads!
- Aggressive filter on ads. Ad track savings measured in trees
- Reverse Ecosia: "You saved 10 trees by not loading these ads!"
UX and design
- Reverse attention economy. Less sticky.
- Health labels: log off!
- Surface data from browsers
- Low alerts: don't notify me all the time
- A mindfulness display on usage
- Gamify an ecological browsing experience. Set targets.
- New tab eco advice checklist
- Make Amazon black and white to reduce appeal
- Make about:performance better and more visible
- New primary UI for energy usage (tabs turn red)
- “Energy report” similar to protections report that highlights energy wasting resources/websites
- See performance data per tab
- User set threshold to limit CO2
- Warning that user is entering a “heavy” website
- “Wilting tree visualisation” for eco-unfriendly behaviour
- Carbon beam. Lightbeam for carbon consumption of browsing session.
- Visualise my XX years computer’s lifetime until it’s too slow (perceived performance)
- Print view for energy saving
- All in one page per default
- Display average carbon emissions of regularly visited websites
- Time Well Spent: connect eco-mode to more user control over internet usage patterns
- Estimate and display Co2 output for search
- Partner with Ecosia etc. as default search engine (in Eco Mode)
Professional education and practices
- Education and developer skills
- Web console hints for devs re energy consumption
- Sustainability engineering as a job category + team, design principles like accessibility
Organizational travel policies
- Employees get an extra day for slow travel
- Travel budget includes CO2
- CO2 Budget for offsets
- Policies to support train travel, car pooling, remote participation
- Targets to reduce flights
Organizational office policies
- Use green-certified office buildings
- Plastic free offices (including cups!)
- Sparkling/Still water taps
- 100% solar/renewable power of building
- AC/heating improvements
- Cloth towels in the restrooms and kitchens
Certifications and audits
- Carbon Certificate: signed certificates by carbon consultancy
- carbon.txt: show credentials on site and can audit
- Internet health monitor
- Offset browsing energy consumption
- Eco audits
- Ecology badge (like Privacy Badge)
- My preferences for brands etc
- My eco-concern preferences
- Eco Reviews
- Green product preferences
- "Do not shop!" Alternatives to what you had chosen
- Green product recommendations
- How much CO2 does a product produce?
- Enforce a 48 hour delay before online orders are processed
- Plugins to tell your eco footprint
- Reminders: environmental voice assistant reminders
- Ecological tips for browser user
- Promote eco-friendly partners, e.g. Ecosia or Stripe
- Promote content/ads from environmental research & charities
- How do we make this visible? Messages from people impacted by climate change
- Eco mode raises money for good causes
- Countdown indicator: 837 dates before irreversible climate change. Act!
- "We care!" Firefox users care
- Connect to network of environmental orgs
- International connectivity: making it all easier
- Conscious Consumers: eco-mode offer partnerships
- Users as a constituency: eco-mode unionization
- Tech companies required to submit machine-readable Sustainability Transparency Reports
- Invest in carbon capture and storage
- Commission research to determine the internet’s main carbon contributors (UI, Spam email, video streaming, electronics, etc.)
- Identify wasteful standards/ processes and lobby against them
- “Green Snopes” - fight misinformation. Campaigns to combat misinfo for climate denial along the lines of Mozilla's YouTube recommendation transparency campaign
- Promote greener Internet/Web standards for W3C and other standards bodies
- Pressure data centers like AWS that run on fossil fuels, such as letters from customers asking for them to deliver on their 100% renewable promise