Today, Yahoo launched two new sites to get people motivated to be environmentally responsible. The sites complement Yahoo's previous green offering 18seconds.org, which tracks fluorescent light bulb usage in the continental United States. The sites are information tools, and part of a contest to help the greenest city in the U.S. get greener.
The first of the new sites is Yahoo Green, which helps people create their own plans to go green, using a drag-and-drop building tool. Yahoo provides lifestyle actions in four categories, which range from air drying your clothes all the way up to buying and installing solar panels on your house. Users can sort through the various actions using filters, and the builder will automatically let them know how much they're cutting back on their carbon emissions. When done, users can pledge to make those changes, and send off their plans to friends and family.
Yahoo Green gives everyone a baseline of 9.44 tons of CO2 a year, although to find something a little closer to your situation you can use Carbon Counter, which is a free tool that lets you customize your carbon offsets based on your living space and how you travel. It also lets you know how much it would cost to offset the carbon by donating to various environmental organizations.
The other new site is Be a Better Planet, which acts as a landing page for 18seconds, Yahoo Green, and links to green tools on Yahoo Answers and Yahoo's mobile search platform oneSearch. The site is the launch pad for Yahoo's new promotion that tracks and awards the greenest city in the U.S. The winning city gets a fleet of hybrid taxis. Alternately, cities can choose to take the cash equivalent and put it into their own environmental programs.
To keep score, Yahoo is doling out points for interaction with the services listed on the Be a Better Planet page. Results are shown on a map, which will start displaying each city's scores starting tomorrow. Users can improve their city's score by continuing to use Yahoo's green-oriented services, although it's clear that larger cities get an advantage over the smaller ones, assuming their residents are Yahoo users.