September 23, 2008

Plant trees for free

Offsetting your carbon emissions is a serious business, with lots of competitors in the space. While using the Internet to offset your emissions is relatively easy, doing it for free is much harder.

In a typical scenario, you log in to a website, estimate your carbon footprint (based on things like how much you drive, where you fly, and your typical home usage) and then pay a set amount annually to offset it. In my household of two adults and two young children for example, I calculated the average cost to offset our carbon footprint per year as $719 per year (49 tonnes).
But a new approach, which seems like a win-win for consumers, trades the typical 'pay-for-service' approach to something much more 'Web 2.0'. Instead of paying to offset your carbon footprint, you click your way through to Green heaven.

ClickGreen, an Australian owned business will offset your carbon emissions by planting trees on your behalf. And all you've got to do is either click on relevant ads that are emailed to you, or invite friends to join the site.

The concept is simple and easy to follow. ClickGreen send you emails from their advertisers. If you click on them, ClickGreen give you 'offset credits'. During the sign-up process, ClickGreen ask you a number of questions that helps them target particular ads to your tastes.

Once you accumulate 21 offset credits (21 clicks) ClickGreen plant a tree on your behalf (through a third party called GreenFleet). ClickGreen estimate that to offset 1 years worth of carbon emissions from your car you'll need to click once a day (the equivalent of 17 trees).

So far, the ClickGreen concept seems to be successful, with the website reporting that the equivalent of 4282 trees being planted already.

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