Dirty Domains The Least Environmentally-Friendly Websites On The Internet

Dirty Domains: The Least Environmentally-Friendly Websites On The Internet

Published on: November 14, 2023
Last Updated: November 14, 2023

Dirty Domains: The Least Environmentally-Friendly Websites On The Internet

Published on: November 14, 2023
Last Updated: November 14, 2023

We know that cars, planes and trains can produce harmful carbon emissions that contribute to climate change.

But did you know that websites produce CO2 as well?

According to Website Carbon Calculator, the average web page produces 0.5 grams of CO2 for every page visit.

This might seem like a small amount, but when you take into account the heavy, clunky design of some websites and the billions of views for some of the world’s top websites, it can quickly add up.

There are different things that can increase the carbon footprint of a website.

This includes large images, videos, heavy fonts, messy code and Javascript.

Compressed images, optimised SEO and a streamlined user experience all contribute to a more energy-efficient website.

At EarthWeb, our data experts wanted to find out the top carbon-producing websites on the internet.

To do this, we used Website Carbon Calculator and Similarweb to discover how much carbon popular websites are creating based on their visitor figures.

Key Findings

  • The Xbox website produces the most carbon per web page visit at 6.75 grams of CO2.
  • Beauty websites produce the most carbon per page visit at 1.68 grams of CO2 per visit, followed by footwear (1.24g) and food & drink (1.12g).
  • The YouTube website produces the most carbon emissions per month at over 330,755 metric tons of CO2, more than the yearly CO2 emissions of the country of Lesotho.
  • The search engine Mojeek produces the least CO2 per month at 0.14 metric tons.

Beauty Websites Are the Least Environmentally Friendly

Websites 234

By analysing 195 websites over ten different categories, we were able to determine the dirtiest industries on the internet based on their CO2 production.

The industry that created the most carbon emissions per visit is beauty with 1.68 grams of CO2 produced each website visit.

Beauty websites often host high-quality images of the product along with an e-commerce-friendly design which could contribute to the high carbon footprint.

In second place is the footwear industry featuring Vans, Footlocker and Sketchers as some of the highest carbon-producing brands.

Websites in the footwear space produce an average of 1.24 grams of CO2 each website visit.

Third we have the food & drink industry producing 1.12 grams of CO2 per web page visit with Costco one of the top offenders.

Search engines produced the least carbon emissions overall with an average of just 0.35 grams of CO2 per web page load.

This can be attributed to the fact that search engines are often very stripped back in their design.

The Least Environmentally-Friendly Industries
RankingIndustryAverage CO2 Produced per Web Page Visit (g)
1Beauty1.68
2Footwear1.24
3Food & Drink1.12
4Electronics1.06
5Business0.96
6Streaming0.95
7Fashion0.94
8Travel0.76
9Social Media0.69
10Search Engine0.35

The Xbox Website Produces the Most Carbon per Visit

Xbox Website

Of all the 195 websites we analysed, the gaming giant Xbox’s website produced the most carbon at 6.75 grams of CO2 per visit.

The extensive use of imagery and dynamic layout of the website might contribute to why it produces more carbon than any other website on our list.

In second place is beauty brand Glossier producing 6.46 grams of CO2 per website visit.

Upon visiting the website you’re met with large imagery, autoplay video features and discount code pop-ups, all contributing to its carbon footprint.

Pinterest ranks as the top social media platform to produce the most carbon emissions at 3.39 grams of CO2 per website visit.

Although the website has a sleek and no-fuss design, when visiting the homepage visitors are shown thousands of images and autoplay videos from the community.

The Websites That Produce the Most Carbon per Visit
RankingWebsiteIndustryCO2 Produced per Web Page Visit (g)
1XboxElectronics6.75
2GlossierBeauty6.46
3PinterestSocial Media3.39
4Wendy’sFood & Drink3.38
5Paramount+Streaming3.04
6CostcoFood & Drink3.03
7UniqloFashion2.85
8VansFootwear2.76
9PlayStationElectronics2.73
10Beauty BayBeauty2.65
11Fenty BeautyBeauty2.57
12Foot LockerFootwear2.49
13OpenAIBusiness2.49
14SlackBusiness2.37
15ColourPopBeauty2.34
16SketchersFootwear2.34
17Estée LauderBeauty2.31
18AsicsFootwear2.13
19Whole FoodsFood & Drink2.13
20Microsoft 365Business2.03

YouTube Is the Dirtiest Website for Carbon Emissions

YouTube Statistics

To give a true idea of how much CO2 a single website is producing, we also used SimilarWeb to discover the total number of page views per month by multiplying the number of visitors for each website and the average page views per visit.

The Dirtiest Website for Carbon Emissions
RankingWebsiteIndustryTotal Monthly Page ViewsCO2 per Web Page Visit (g)CO2 Produced per Month (g)
1YouTubeStreaming371,635,000,0000.89330,755,150,000
2GoogleSearch Engine736,642,000,0000.29213,626,180,000
3InstagramSocial Media70,464,000,0000.9466,236,160,000
4OutlookBusiness16,260,000,0001.6727,154,200,000
5X (Twitter)Social Media57,130,000,0000.4324,565,900,000
6FacebookSocial Media144,907,000,0000.1623,185,120,000
7Microsoft 365Business11,280,000,0002.0322,898,400,000
8PinterestSocial Media6,410,000,0003.3921,729,900,000
9OpenAIBusiness6,300,000,0002.4915,687,000,000
10TikTokSocial Media16,236,000,0000.9515,424,200,000
11NaverSearch Engine12,650,000,0000.9612,144,000,000
12BaiduSearch Engine38,857,000,0000.2610,102,820,000
13Yahoo!Search Engine19,570,000,0000.336,458,100,000
14DuckDuckGoSearch Engine5,450,900,0001.055,723,445,000
15RedditSocial Media11,106,000,0000.485,330,880,000
16Booking.comTravel4,581,580,0001.115,085,553,800
17DiscordSocial Media7,150,000,0000.624,433,000,000
18TwitchStreaming3,920,770,0001.14,312,847,000
19SheinFashion1,744,732,0001.823,175,412,240
20MaxStreaming5,950,770,0000.533,153,908,100

The video-sharing website YouTube came out on top as the dirtiest website overall.

With over 371 billion page views over a single month and each webpage producing 0.89 grams of CO2, the video giant creates more than 330,755 tons of CO2.

When putting this into perspective, this is the same amount as the yearly carbon footprint of the country of Lesotho.

Google ranks number two as the second dirtiest website on the internet.

Although the world’s most popular search engine has a very low carbon footprint of 0.29g with its minimal design, there are over 378 million Google searches per hour, meaning its carbon footprint soon adds up.

Google produces over 213,626 metric tons of CO2 in a month.

That’s equal to a car driving around the Earth 37,096 times.

Instagram is the first social media platform on our list and third overall producing 66,236 metric tons of CO2 every month based on its higher carbon emissions of 0.94 grams per web page visit.

This is no surprise when you factor in how many images Instagram holds on the website.

According to Berners Lee’s book, The Carbon Footprint of Everything, it takes 0.3 grams of carbon to send an email, but to visit the Outlook website alone, this can be up to 1.67 grams.

Due to the high carbon emissions produced per page visit, Outlook ranks as the 4th dirtiest website with over 27,154 tons of carbon produced each month.

BeReal, Lush and Hayu Among Some of the Cleanest Websites for Carbon Emissions

BeReal 789

We also looked at the websites that produce the least carbon emissions based on the total number of monthly page views to the website and CO2 produced per page visit. 

The Cleanest Website for Carbon Emissions
RankingWebsiteIndustryTotal Monthly Page ViewsCO2 per Web Page Visit (g)Carbon Emissions per Month (g)
1MojeekSearch Engine3,547,4740.04141,899
2SeekrSearch Engine329,0940.78256,693
3BeRealSocial Media1,980,0000.15297,000
4Anastasia Beverly HillsBeauty911,5601.111,011,832
5DogpileSearch Engine8,800,0000.121,056,000
6Too FacedBeauty1,500,8041.281,921,029
7HopperTravel4,554,0000.452,049,300
8BenefitBeauty2,647,3540.832,197,304
9FilaFootwear2,970,2230.852,524,690
10LushBeauty11,960,0000.273,229,200
11RakutenStreaming14,518,0000.294,210,220
12NARSBeauty3,322,8181.324,386,120
13PresearchSearch Engine26,566,0000.174,516,220
14NYXBeauty3,990,0001.144,548,600
15Kylie CosmeticsBeauty2,803,0311.644,596,971
16Nasty GalFashion7,657,0000.695,283,330
17Blue ApronFood & Drink5,124,0001.26,148,800
18PhilipsElectronics17,434,0000.366,276,240
19ClarksFootwear12,792,0000.56,396,000
20HayuStreaming8,211,0000.796,486,690

The least carbon-producing website on our list is Mojeek, a UK-based search engine that creates only 0.14 metric tons of CO2 every month.

You would only need to plant 2.4 trees and have them grow for ten years to offset the carbon.

The independent search engine Seekr, which rates content based on its reliability and political leaning, comes in second place producing just 0.26 metric tons of CO2 in an entire month.

The simple web page design and lack of imagery and video mean it’s one of the most environmentally friendly websites on the internet.

BeReal comes in third place.

The app catapulted in popularity with people craving a more stripped-back social media platform, but it’s not just good for the soul.

The website produces just 0.3 metric tons of carbon every month which can be offset by recycling just 12.9 bags of waste.

Americans Set to Generate Over 4,067 Tons of Carbon During Black Friday

Black Friday 345

Black Friday is one of the biggest shopping events in the world, usually taking place the Friday after Thanksgiving.

According to a report by Adobe, Americans spent $2.4 billion on Black Friday last year.

But it’s not just in the stores that people now flock to. Black Friday has migrated online with sales galore.

But with so many people now connecting online to shop for the latest deals, how much do carbon emissions increase during this time?

The National Retail Federation predicted that 166 million Americans would shop online during Black Friday in 2022.

If we take this number, assume that Americans will visit at least ten different online websites and multiply it by the average number of page views to an e-commerce website in Q4 we’re met with 8.1 billion web page visits in total. 

Using Website Carbon Calculator’s average CO2 emissions of a typical website at 0.5 grams, we can calculate that there’s likely to be a surge of 4,067 additional metric tons of carbon produced on Black Friday alone.

This equates to 791 homes’ electricity use for one year and would require 67,248 tree seedlings to be planted and grown for ten years to offset the carbon produced.

A Double-Edged Sword

Jason Wise, Editor at EarthWeb comments: “While it’s unavoidable to create a website that produces no emissions whatsoever, there are ways that developers and marketers can ensure that websites are built in a way that makes sure they use up less energy.

“You can make sure your images on the website are compressed so that website visitors aren’t loading huge files to visit the web page.

Stopping autoplay videos can also help give the visitors the choice of if they want to see the content themselves.

There are a multitude of ways you can create code that is clean and efficient as well as improve your SEO so that readers can navigate your website more efficiently.

“Some websites take the matter into their own hands such as Ecosia, a search engine that plants a tree for every search made on the platform.”

Methodology

To find out the websites that produce the most carbon emissions we first created a seed list of the most visited and popular websites in the world, split by category.

Then, we used the Website Carbon Calculator to find the CO2 emissions of a single webpage visit and Similarweb to discover the estimated number of visitors for each website and average number of pages per visit.

Website Carbon calculator

We then multiplied the number of visitors by the number of pages per visit to get the total page views in a month.

From here, we multiplied the carbon emissions per page view by the total number of page views each month to find the dirtiest websites.

The data was collected in November 2023.

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Written by Jason Wise

Hello! I’m the editor at EarthWeb, with a particular interest in business and technology topics, including social media, privacy, and cryptocurrency. As an experienced editor and researcher, I have a passion for exploring the latest trends and innovations in these fields and sharing my insights with our readers. I also enjoy testing and reviewing products, and you’ll often find my reviews and recommendations on EarthWeb. With a focus on providing informative and engaging content, I am committed to ensuring that EarthWeb remains a leading source of news and analysis in the tech industry.