April 4, 2008

Saving the planet, without leaving your keyboard

Who knew saving the planet could be so painless - or so cute? FriendsGreen, the makers of Facebook's (Lil) Green Patch game, have designed a game in which you take care of your lawn while sponsor (read: advertiser) money goes to fight deforestation. Instead of racking up points as you play, online gardeners rack up square feet of rainforest saved.

Of course, instead of whiling away your time on line, it would be more effective to donate directly to the Nature Conservancy's Adopt an Acre program, which is where FriendsGreen's money goes. For $50, you can adopt your very own acre of rainforest, protecting it from development. But the game is a cute gimmick to grab young people's attention, and it's slightly better for the environment than another round of Scrabulous.

For those ready to get more involved, there's a bulletin board where you can read and post all kinds of ideas about being more environmentally aware. And for non-Facebookers, there's FriendsGreen's search engine, which uses Yahoo! Search to troll the web, and donates its ad money to the same cause.

Meanwhile, Al Gore's long-rumored blitz of environment-related ads has materialized, and it turns out they're for a new website: We Can Solve It. Not quite as catchy as Barack Obama's "Yes We Can," Gore's site offers perky video clips of people explaining why they've joined, as well as petitions to sign, advice on living green, and a blogger-friendly press room. To be frank, it looks like green websites are still trying to find a reason for being; there's a limit to how much you can really do for the environment just hanging out on a website. Here's hoping these will be first steps to creating a greener culture and inciting more people to action.

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