Change Alley

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Oh, bugger!

with 7 comments

Broken PC

It had to be April 1st, didn’t it, but it was no joke. I doubt if anyone noticed, but yesterday morning while updating this site to enhance your viewing experience, some finger trouble on my part caused a WordPress widget to go berserk and bring down the hosting server. It took about a day to restore from a backup and recreate the subsequent posts. And that merry prankster post I spent hours on has passed its sell-by date, and will have to be put on ice for next year. If it’s still topical.

None of this has done anything to improve my mood. I was in a dark place for a while, and seriously considered giving up this blogging lark altogether. However, my mate Nick at Dream Hosting helped me through it and here we are again. In one of my blacker moments I considered moving to a new hosting service, preferably one that has a position on envionmental issues. A quick Google shows there’s a load of options out there. Here’s a random sample.

“Give your carbon footprint the red card!” say, who claim to be an affordable earth-friendly service, 100% solar powered and Fairtrade friendly.

NSDesign Web Hosting say they “recently became one of the few web service companies to become carbon neutral, by completely offsetting our carbon footprint”. NSDesign has partnered with Tree Appeal to offer a tree planting carbon offset service. The presence on the Tree Appeal home page of two photos of that ghastly, misguided old duffer ‘Professor’ David Bellamy doesn’t tempt me to pursue this option.

Eco Web Hosting “provide carbon neutral web hosting and green web hosting throughout the UK”. They offer “individuals and companies a carbon neutral web hosting service. We carefully calculate the carbon emissions of our servers, and offset them by planting trees in Ransom Wood Business Park.”

A swift glance suggests that the majority of ‘green’ web hosting services justify their claims by using carbon offsets. Outfits like Greenwebhosting that invest directly in renewables to power their data centres seem to be pretty thin on the ground. Careful research is needed to make sure you get the right service for your own personal ethical stance. Another complicating factor is price; I pay £9.99 a year for my current site, I would have to pay seven times that amount for a basic solar-powered service with Greenwebhosting, offering a fraction of the web space and bandwidth.

Decisions, decisions. Why does everything have to be so difficult?


Written by Pete Smith

April 2, 2008 at 1:50 pm

7 Responses

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  1. It’s not a green webhosting service, but you can get free carbon offsets here:

    Karbon Kenny

    April 2, 2008 at 5:35 pm

  2. Your web site suggests you have the same sort of ambivalent attitude towards offsets as I do. That being the case, I’ll leave your blatant advertising pitch where it is 🙂

    Pete Smith

    April 3, 2008 at 10:23 am

  3. Was the Fuckit widget you were fingering? 🙂


    April 3, 2008 at 4:27 pm

  4. Just to confirm that your statement about NSDesign offsetting their carbon footprint, and also launching a tree planting initiative, are 2 very different issues.

    Earlier this year we did completely offset our carbon usage (through the purchase of Kyoto-compliant carbon offsets – the only type of credits that meet the UK government’s offsetting code of practice).

    And on Monday, we launched a new “go green” initiative, encouraging customers to contribute a small payment (matched by us) allowing the planting of a tree through the tree appeal organisation, therefore benefiting the environment on a number of levels.

    To confirm – planting trees is NOT how we offset our co2 usage. And don’t be too harsh on poor David Bellamy… There is also a picture of Tony Blair on their website – surely he’s worse 😉


    Gary Ennis

    April 3, 2008 at 8:14 pm

  5. OK Gary, some clarification is in order. Your company offsets its emissions via a government-approved offset scheme; that’s fine if you accept all the claims that are made for such schemes. Your completely separate ‘Go Green’ initiative doubles up your customer’s £5 to pay Tree Appeal to plant a tree. Tree Appeal promote this sort of thing as a marketing ploy to raise a company’s profile and establish their ‘green’ credentials, while giving the customer the feel-good factor.
    Planting trees is all very well, but isn’t the whole story by any means. Sticking saplings in a random field will not create a complex woodland environment overnight.Can I urge you to consider moving your support to the Woodland Trust, the UK’s oldest, largest and most experienced woodland charity, who also offer corporate partnership schemes at the same cost per tree. In addition to planting new trees on a large scale, they conserve and fight for established woods under threat, particularly irreplaceable ancient woodland. Conservation is much more cost-effective than new planting.

    Pete Smith

    April 4, 2008 at 8:39 am

  6. Thanks for coming back to me Pete… Regarding the woodland trust – We did contact them (prior to partnering with Tree Appeal) with regard a corporate partnership, but because of their large costs (between £5,000 to £20,000) this was simply not doable for us. NSDesign are a small company – we are not the next Dell or IBM, and the careful spending of profits is critical to our long term success. Even at their smallest entry point, we felt it not financially viable, especially because this still did NOT allow us to offer any tangible benefit to our customers (from the information I was given it was clear that this was purely buying “support” of the trust – Not actively engaging in any sort of multiple tree planting scheme that we could encourage to our own customers).

    I’m sure for some larger organisations, partnering with the Woodland Trust makes sound financial AND ecological sense, but not in our case, and I assume not for most “small” companies. As I’ve always said – our “Go Green” scheme is not by any means a “solution”, but if nothing else it gets our clients thinking (and certain blogs talking!) about green issues and ways to help resolve them.

    Gary Ennis

    April 4, 2008 at 10:32 pm

  7. Gary,I’m surprised by what you say about your Woodland Trust experience. I’ll be investigating their corporate offerings to see why it’s so expensive. As a longstanding supporter of the Trust, I can only say it sounds rather disappointing that small businesses are being priced out of working with them.

    Pete Smith

    April 4, 2008 at 10:51 pm

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