How to reduce your impact on the planet

With Earth Day here, many of us are thinking of ways to help the environment. We have five services that assist you in doing just that.

Earth Day happens one day a year. But it should spur us to do our best to reduce our impact on the environment for the other 364.

I've picked five sites that provide a framework for how to live your life in a way that's better for the environment. Whether it's car-pooling or simply eating the right foods, you'll find ways to be a more responsible Earthling.

The tools of the trade

Carbon Diet

Though there are countless "carbon calculators" on the Web that try to measure your carbon footprint, the Carbon Diet does it better.

When you start using Carbon Diet, you'll be required to input your usage of electricity, natural gas, and vehicle fuel. Simply input your monthly bill amounts and Carbon Diet will do the rest. It then calculates your impact on the environment. You can go back each month to update your usage. As you input more information about your activities, it continuously modifies your impact, displaying graphs and charts to give you a visual outline of what you're doing to the planet.

The best tool on Carbon Diet is its "analysis" feature, which examines your activities and gives you tips toward becoming a more responsible environmentalist. It told me that I need to stop driving so much. I also need to turn the TV off instead of leaving it on for most of the day.

You'll learn a lot from Carbon Diet. It's the best carbon calculator I've seen. Try it out.

The Daily Green

The Daily Green is the best resource for green living on the Web. It delves into healthy recipes, better living, low-impact gardening, and more.

When you first go to The Daily Green, you'll probably have trouble finding what you're looking for simply because there's so much content to consult. If you start with the news, you'll find a host of interesting articles and discussions on topics that relate to the green lifestyle. The section is also filled with articles on political news surrounding environmental concerns.

But the most value you'll get from The Daily Green can be found in the site's "Tips and Advice" tab, which shows you ways to save money with green products. The site also provides advice on how to turn your home green so you become a more responsible environmentalist.

If you want to change the way you eat, The Daily Green also has green recipes. All of the dishes contain organic products, like soy milk and basmati rice. The site claims green food is just as delicious as dishes that don't use organic ingredients. I can't corroborate that claim--the recipes didn't sound all that appetizing to me.

The Daily Green is the perfect destination to immerse yourself in the green lifestyle. It makes you a better inhabitant of Earth.

GoodGuide

GoodGuide is a product recommendation service that helps you find products that are not only better for the environment, but better for you, as well.

With GoodGuide, you can search for over 70,000 products, including food, personal care items, toys, and household goods. The service will tell you which products are harmful to the environment. It will let you know which items are good for your health. And it will inform you about products that are perpetuating some of society's biggest problems.

I searched GoodGuide to find out what kind of impact some of the products I use in my home have. Luckily, most of the products I use were rated highly and have little negative impact on my health or the environment. But I found that some products--even those that are relatively well-known--were produced with sweat shop labor. One toy I found, the Star Wars Mini Basketball Hoop Set, contained harmful chemicals. Without GoodGuide, I would have never known that.

GoodGuide is one of the best services I've ever used. And I've used a lot of services. You need to try it out. You (and society) will be happy you did.

GuideMeGreen

If you really want to reduce your impact on the environment, you need to start supporting green companies. GuideMeGreen's directory helps you do just that.

Whether it's clothing or travel, GuideMeGreen directs you to all the companies in the U.S. that provide a green alternative to some of your favorite brands. That said, the majority of the companies on the site are brands you've probably never heard of. But that doesn't mean they don't provide a service to those who want to go green. Quite the contrary, you'll find that most of the products the companies offer are comparable to the products you use now.

GuideMeGreen is a fine directory that's designed well and delivers on its promise of exposing you to green companies. Though you might not find enough options to replace all the products you currently use, you will probably find a few.

The Nature Conservancy

If you want to do more than change your habits, The Nature Conservancy provides an outlet to do more for your planet. You can donate funds or volunteer through the site to help the organization achieve its goals.

The Nature Conservancy works around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters. It uses scientists to find those areas and partners with local communities to ensure government and private organizations don't use the land for commercial construction.

If you donate funds to The Nature Conservancy, they go toward helping to pay for its operation worldwide. But if you volunteer, you can plant trees native to your area, help clean up preserved lands, and educate the public on the focus of the organization. All the while, you can help achieve the goal of reducing your impact on the planet.

About the author

Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.

 

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