This is a live document. Last update 4 March 2024


In an age where digital is inherently physical, everything we do online leaves behind an environmental footprint. Growing awareness of the vast energy consumption and emissions from data centres, network infrastructure and electronic devices prompted us to reflect on our commitment to minimizing the digital impact of L'internationale.

We have successfully reduced our new website's footprint, improved its speed and accessibility. The current version is almost 10 times lighter than its previous incarnation.

This optimization demonstrates our commitment to minimising our online environmental impact. Please read our journey below, be inspired and share with others.

Lighter, faster and less java script

Faster Page Load Time: By optimizing the initial load size from 8 MB to 800 KB, our website's home page is now loading faster, providing a better user experience, especially for visitors with slower internet connections.

Reduced Bandwidth Usage: Decreasing file sizes reduces data transfer requirements between the server and user's device, resulting in lower bandwidth usage and costs, especially environmentally.

Improved Mobile Experience: Lightweight websites typically perform better on mobile devices, especially in regions with limited internet access where bandwidth and processing power may be constrained.

Optimized Code: Having only essential scripts (reduced from 20 to 5) and one highly compressed stylesheet (down from 6) indicates a more optimized and efficient codebase. This also make maintenance easier and improve the overall stability of the website.

Minimizing Digital Waste: Optimizing data transmission and reducing unnecessary data, resulted in reducing amount of invisible digital waste. Unneeded data not only increases energy consumption but also strains electronic devices, possibly causing them to become obsolete sooner.

Ecology of attention to accessibility

In our process, we also considered the ecology of attention, which involves managing individuals' cognitive resources in the digital world responsibly. Given today's information overload and constant digital stimuli, we prioritized designing a website and content that respect users' attention spans. Our approach to this challange encompasses:​​​​​​​

Mindful Design: Focus on clear and simple design to minimize mental effort. We ensured that content is meaningful and free from unnecessary distractions.

Ethical Practices: We have steered clear of using dark patterns and manipulative design strategies that take advantage of cognitive vulnerabilities. Instead, we prioritize transparency and honesty in providing information.

Encouraging offline reading

The environmental impact of digital versus physical formats such as paper is not as straightforward and depends on a number of factors such as file size, energy used in production and disposal methods. Online reading is more sustainable for occasional use, while print is a better choice for repeated, longform or shared reading.

This is why most articles on our website include the estimated reading time upfront so you can plan accordingly. They are also available for download in .epub or .pdf formats, encouraging you to read offline.

It's worth noting that if you've opted for the digital version of our article, to better understand its environmental cost, it's worth first considering the device that will allow you to read it: your 16-inch laptop.

The environmental impact of producing a single laptop is mainly due to the manufacturing process, which accounts for about 70-80% of the total emissions. The rest of the emissions come from transport (around 5-10%) and the actual use of the laptop (around 10-20%).

On average, a laptop has a carbon footprint of about 422.5 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent, which includes the carbon emissions from manufacturing, transportation and the first four years of use.

Free and open source software for reading

If you want to take a step forward and reduce the energy associated with online reading, consider using open and free desktop reading software such as Ocular. https://okular.kde.org/

This is the first software product to be awarded the Blue Angel eco-label by the German government for its resource and energy efficiency. In the long run, this software has lower performance requirements, which results in a longer life of the hardware on which it runs. In addition, this solution has a high level of transparency, giving users greater freedom in how they use it.

E-readers for heavy readers only

The environmental benefit of e-readers lies in their ability to replace many printed books over their lifetime. For example, if an e-reader replaces at least 36 physical books, it is balancing out its footprint1 within the first year of use. Heavy readers who continue to use their e-readers for several years can significantly reduce their carbon footprint compared to those who only read printed books.​​​​​​​

But if you are a light reader and only browse through e-books a few times a year, stick with paper.​​​​​​​

1 source: https://www.newscientist.com/lastword/mg24933211-400-is-it-better-for-the-planet-to-read-online-or-in-a-paper-format/
2 source: https://www.iea.org/reports/electricity-2024/executive-summary
3 source: https://www.theverge.com/2023/10/10/23911059/ai-climate-impact-google-openai-chatgpt-energy

Closing the loop

On top of this, most of our electronic devices, from e-readers and smartphones to laptops, present significant challenges due to their short life cycles and the difficulty of recycling them, resulting in the loss of valuable materials and increased waste.

Our commitment to creating an optimised website that manages data efficiently and reduces the strain on devices when interacting with our content also indirectly promotes longer device lifecycle.

Encouraging responsible consumption by avoiding overly resource-intensive features and promoting a culture of mindful digital use also contribute positively to reducing the stream of electronic waste.

This is why we believe it is important to raise awareness of the environmental impact of constant device upgrades and to encourage our community to extend the life of their existing devices.

Digital Sustainability as a continuous journey

We recognize that the digital realm is intertwined with the physical world, and our responsibility extends beyond mere aesthetics and functionality. By embracing a sustainable and eco-friendly approach to web development, we aim to make a positive contribution to the global effort in reducing the environmental footprint associated with the digital landscape.

Our commitment to environmental sustainability is an ongoing journey.

We do recognize and are fully aware of the environmental impact of online analytics tools such as Google Analytics. To find out more about the environmental costs of tracking technologies, take a look at the Carbolytics project and analysis: https://carbolytics.org/

In response, our next step will be to make our website even lighter by adopting tracking technologies that prioritize user privacy and steer clear of contributing to surveillance capitalism.

Please come back some time to this page and check updates to our pledge.