The green web

5 May, 2008 at 2:30 pm 13 comments

While I’m typing and while you’re reading this, we’re indirectly contributing to global warming. Just by using a computer, which runs on electricity that is in turn is produced by fossil fuels, we emit 60 grams of CO2 per hour.

I’m loathe to preach about how we should conserve energy to save the world from exploding (and South Africa from intermittent darkness), especially when I’ve got my heater on, cell phone on charge, and a casserole in the oven. My “wrongdoings” probably warrant an entry on True Green Confessions, a website that’s the equivalent of a church’s confessional booth for “sins” against the earth. It’s strange, but addictive.

It may be too little too late, but the new web is making significant attempts to become environmentally friendly, just as food, fashion and business has. Here are some web 2.0 attempts at going green.

Save-the-earth Search Engines

Eco-friendly search engines were the brainchild of Mark Ontkush, who wrote this post on the amount of energy Google could save if it changed its home page from white to black. This is his basic argument:

“Take at look at Google, who gets about 200 million queries a day. Let’s assume each query is displayed for about 10 seconds; that means Google is running for about 550,000 hours every day on some desktop. Assuming that users run Google in full screen mode, the shift to a black background will save a total of 15 (74-59) watts. That turns into a global savings of 8.3 Megawatt-hours per day, or about 3000 Megawatt-hours a year. Now take into account that about 25 percent of the computers are CRTs, and at 10 cents a kilowatt-hour, that’s $75,000, a goodly amount of energy and dollars for changing a few color codes.”

Heap Media launched Blackle last year, a “black” search engine that uses Google search. Unfortunately, the site lacks many of its features like iGoogle, advanced search, and images. A better alternative is Earthle – known as the Black Google -, which is powered by Google, uses less energy and has the exact same features that you’d find on the original search engine. (It looks much sexier too!).

Then there’s the Yahoo! owned GreenBackSearch, which returns the same results as an original Yahoo! search, but the site gives back to the environment by using 50% of its revenue to purchase carbon offsets/credits. Yahoo! also powers a search engine called Ecocho, which grows 2 trees for every 1000 searches conducted on the site.

Eco-friendly social media

Care2Make a Difference is the biggest green social network on the web, with more than eight million users. The network provides a great connection and a wealth of information and services for eco-enthusiasts ranging from healthy living to saving a rainforest with a donation or a signature. Similar green social networks like RiverWired are also on the increase.

The green equivalent of YouTube is Empivot, which aggregates all green- related video content and allows users to upload their own. The site hosts a large amount of audio-visual content from both individuals and companies.

Hugg is the eco-friendly alternative to social bookmarking communities like Digg or del.icio.us. The site is popular and active, and is a useful source of information for anything green related.

Internet users in the US are using Gigoit to donate or get rid of unwanted items instead of dumping them in landfills. The site is like Craigslist, where other users can call dibs on – or as South Africans would say, shotgun – items that they want. The giver then chooses who he wants to donate his stuff to, and the two make arrangements for the exchange. It’s a philanthropic and eco-friendly way to get rid of old cellphones, kids’ toys and dad’s tools that have been collecting dust in our storage room since the 1960s.

Green online shopping has also taken off, with sites like Iallergy and Green Deals Daily offering a variety of environmentally-friendly products to consumers.

For environmental offenders (like me, you and let’s face it, everybody else), EcoGeek and Green Marketing 2.0 provide the latest news on technology and inventions that will help reduce our impact on the environment.

Making a difference

Eco-friendly web 2.0 strategies have taken a lot of flack for their perceived lack of effectiveness. Critics dismiss green social media as mere fluff, and snort in derision at the “black web”, seeing it as regressing towards the ancient MS DOS interface.

But these initiatives, however small their impact may be, are noble and a step in the right direction. Web users should realise that the Internet, for all its wonder and uses, does have a tangible and negative impact on the earth. Given the millions of users and hours spent online, and consequently the amount of CO2 emitted, attempts to create a greener web should be supported.

With that said, I’ve changed my home page to Earthle. Now that I’ve gone black – or should I say green? – there’s no going back.

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Learning the Web 2.0 way (2/2) One flocking cool web browser

13 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Let’s not be e-wasteful « Mobbed by Mobile Media  |  6 May, 2008 at 10:06 am

    [...] read more about how the web is trying to go green check out this post on the Social Media blog! Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Are we all a little illiterate?It’s the way [...]

  • 2. Kat  |  6 May, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    Awesome article! And thank you for all the links. I have already posted several to my Facebook page and tagged a few of my friends walls with them. We might as well do some good along the way with our online social media travels.

  • 3. Inspector Gadget  |  7 May, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    This is a very well researched post yet I’m a little skeptical about massive corporate search engines such as yahoo planting trees after so many searches. It would be very hard to prove that they actually do this, and also easy for them to fake if anyone asked for proof.

    If it’s all so good and is where the web of the future is going then why aren’t these eco-friendly versions of the most popular websites and search engines being promoted?

    Regards
    Inspector Gadget

  • 4. Camilla Burg  |  7 May, 2008 at 9:29 pm

    Great article. I definitely see a growing trend toward ‘green social networking’ sites springing up all over the place. While Care2 has been around for a long time, new sites such as WiserEarth.org (http://www.wiserearth.org) and Ammado.com (http://www.ammado.com) are springing up. These sites are also hoping to further the connections between concerned citizens and the nonprofit world. I agree that these sorts of initiatives are noble, especially as I think it will require all of us to become more connnected in order to reimagine a new world.

  • 5. bloggingsocialmedia  |  8 May, 2008 at 8:55 am

    @ Kat: I agree :) I’ve also been Facebooking and e-mailing friends to let them know about these (greener) alternatives.

    @ Inspector Gadget: Thanks. I understand your cynicism but don’t necessarily share it. You can visit this link (http://www.ecocho.co.uk/lang_en/verified.php) to see how Ecocho’s planting of trees is verified. It seems quite legitimate.

    @ Camilla: Thanks for your comment and links to those sites. I’ll definitely check them out.

  • 6. kelescheppers  |  8 May, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    Great post!! It’s great that these companies are finally paying attention to the effects of their products on the environment.I tried to switch to Earthle, but when I sign in my page automatically goes back to the classic white page. How do you change that?

  • [...] bloggingsocialmedia placed an observative post today on Is green the colour of the new web?Here’s a quick excerptGreen online shopping has also taken off, with sites like Iallergy and Green Deals Daily offering a variety of environmentally-friendly products to consumers. For environmental offenders (like me, you and let’s face it, everybody else), … [...]

  • 8. WeEarth  |  9 June, 2008 at 9:51 pm

    Thanks for pulling this together but you forgot our social media site also! WeEarth is an online community for the socially and environmentally conscious as well.

  • 9. Ann  |  12 June, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    I’m already using Blaxel.com http://www.blaxel.com another black google to save energy. The text is much easier to see

    Don’t like the blackle text color… too dark…

  • 10. bloggingsocialmedia  |  13 June, 2008 at 8:33 am

    @WeEarth, @Ann: Thanks for the heads up to these sites; I’ve had a look at them and they’re also quite impressive.

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