There are hundreds of carbon footprint calculators available on the Internet, but most of them just ask you to input information about your lifestyle in exchange for a footprint rating. If you’re lucky, the calculator might offer tips on CO2 reduction and provide links to carbon offset Web sites. Brighter Planet‘s new site brings social media into the mix, making carbon footprint measurement an activity to share with friends.
The site, launched this week, assigns easy emissions-reducing tasks to users in much the same way that a diet Web site asks participants to complete small weight-shedding tasks. Live activity feeds blast information to the community when a user completes one. For example, the homepage proclaims Melissa McLaughlin has succeeded in hang-drying three loads of laundry this week, while EarthHarmonics has pledged to buy in-season fruits and vegetables for the whole week. And like many dieting Web sites, Brighter Planet offers historical data and visualizations to measure progress. Brighter Planet eventually plans to integrate both Twitter and Facebook Connect so that users can share what they’re doing to lower their emissions with the larger social media community.
The Twitter and Facebook integration is an innovative idea, but how many people want to receive constant updates about friends’ laundry-drying habits? Like Tweet-a-Watt, Brighter Planet’s third-party integration could end up as a much-hyped but fleeting novelty act. The actual Web site, however, makes it easy and–dare I say it–fun for users to shed carbon pounds while keeping track of others’ progress at the same time.