Offsetting Your Website’s ‘Immaterial’ Carbon Footprint – A Material Game

February 14, 2008 at 1:41 pm Leave a comment

There are several sexy eco plugins/widgets/apps/gadgets on the market but if you are a Facebook fanatic you’ll no doubt have come across Greenbook. The tool allows you to ‘green up’ your Facebook presence.

Its creators claim their sponsors offset the carbon footprints of all the people that sign up. I.e., you will have ‘cleansed’ your very presence there. Submit some green living tips and you’ll be endearing the sponsors even more; the more eco tips you publish, the more sponsor contributions increase! To assure you that what you’re doing is not just ‘hot air’, you can also vote on other Greenbook users’ tips.

There are a few other carbon footprint applications that also claim to calculate and offset the Co2 emissions of immaterial (online) living. The logic of such tools is compelling but makes you wonder if they are substantially more than just marketing ploys. Yes it’s true that surfing the net burns real electricity. That a PC or laptop monitor creates harmful emissions every second that it’s running. And how wonderful that we’re made to feel being informed that clever sponsoring can offset.

But who guarantees any of this? The Forest Stewardship Council, which is considered the world’s most stringent Forest certification agency, is looking into producing labels for this type of business.

So for the time being it’s up to your own savvy instincts. Check out search engine Click4Carbon.com or Co2stats.com. Click4Carbon is a comprehensive online shopping platform/search engine and donates at least 50% of all profits to the planting of trees worldwide.

Click4Carbon is a case in point illustrating the crossroads we are coming to. It’s clearly a commercial venture but it makes excessive use of people’s tendency to act out of the goodness of their hearts when the environment is concerned. “We hope that you will help us by promoting the site to your friends and work colleagues as all ‘free’ advertising of Click4Carbon helps increase the minimum % of profits donated,” the message on its website reads. And next a brilliant tool is provided which allows you to check how much you need to spend on its products to achieve on environmental goals such as saving an x amount of trees. If you think that we should look into the company some more, shoot us an email.

Co2Stats does not have any products on offer for direct purchase and offers you a website widget (which despite its HTML script still doesn’t seem to work on this WordPress.com blog) that will certify your website as ‘environmentally friendly’, based on the number of co2stats1.jpgvisits. “CO2Stats monitors how much electricity is being used to power your site”, the company claims. The emission offsets are invested in renewable energy projects.

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Entry filed under: Green Critics. Tags: , , , .

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