Mojeek; Green Logo, Green Search Engine
23 January 2024
As we’ve mentioned before in our ‘doing what’s right’ piece, the green credentials of our data centre were a big motivating factor when it came to selecting it. Having it reasonably close to our team members was also a key factor and also helps to reduce our travel carbon footprint. Building a financially sustainable search engine is important, as is making sure it is sustainable in other ways. This means that we are always looking for ways in which we can minimise our environmental impact.
Proxies of Google or Bing can easily make a claim to being carbon neutral, or having a minimal environmental impact. In most cases this is something which may be true for the proxy itself; their lack of a search index means that they don’t have to engage in the process of crawling and indexing the web as we do. That is left to whichever engine provides their results, and they might not be so green.
This being said, emissions are not just going to be reduced through picking a data centre which uses 100% renewable energy; consequently we’ve applied this ethos to other areas of Mojeek.
Mojeek has always operated as a fully-remote company; something which many businesses, both in tech and other industries, adopted as a reaction to the global pandemic (although in many cases this is now reverting to how it was). As well as granting workers a greater degree of freedom to work from where they please, this also has a positive effect upon our ability to reduce the environmental impact of the business as a whole.
There are plenty of green benefits of remote working such as reducing our power consumption. A study conducted by Evreka explains that each employee who works from home, reduces their energy consumption by at least 5,400 kWh every year. This also benefits Mojeek as a company, as companies can save an average of £6,810 ($11,000) per year for every employee who spends at least half of their time working remotely. Also, on average employees save around £500 ($665) a month from working from home due to reductions in travel expenses.
You might think that our minimalistic site design comes from a place of preferring simplicity, and this is definitely a factor. The web has become more and more designed as time has gone by, and although some of these web experiences can delight users, they have a startling effect upon the emissions of websites. A heavy page needs more compute to load, this means more electricity is consumed in that process, and so more emissions. Mojeek is built with this in mind; in fact, of the search and metasearch engines that we investigated loading the homepage via WebsiteCarbon, we’re actually leaders of the pack:
The links from the 'Search' column in this table allow you to go and check for yourself, so please by all means do (they will change from time to time). These numbers reflect only what the service can estimate, which is the carbon footprint of the client side code; it is not looking at all at the backend. It’s important to note here that, as our DC is powered by 100% renewable energy, we actually deserve a (likely marginally) better result in this. We’ve been in contact to get them added to the database, so it just might happen too!
On top of infrastructure and frontend factors, Mojeek’s backend is built using C, a language which is known for its energy-efficiency. This will depend upon how you write code, but it offers much more opportunity for further green credentials due to its compiled nature, minimal runtime footprint, and fine-grained control.
We have used a UK company for merchandise, EthicalTees, who focus on their environmental and ethical impact, and this was a large factor when choosing a supplier. Similarly, when choosing a company for our business cards, we went for Moo as they use 100% recycled paper. Many times we’ve been asked if we could open a merchandise store, but that would mean vastly upping production of these materials, leading to its own impact for the sake of a branded tee shirt or hat.
We've researched store options, but none have adequately met our green and ethical checklist. Instead we’ve taken to having a backstock of these items and then sending them out to people who have spread the word or helped us out in some other way. To us this makes possession of the items that little bit more special.
We are looking to improve upon our green credentials as we continue to grow our index, so if you have any suggestions for ways in which Mojeek can be even more of a climate-friendly option in search please get in touch.
Building a true alternative in search is an important mission, but it is also paramount that we do so in a sustainable way that pays due respect to the natural world.
23 January 2024