West Coast Green 2009: PlanetUp is a Carbon-Offsetting Digg, But Will It Work?

planet up carbon photo

Photo via Jaymi Heimbuch

A giant net filled with balloons greets visitors as they enter the West Coast Green tradeshow floor. It's from PlanetUp, who says that this is the amount of CO2 put out by utilizing one gallon of gas. 19.6 pounds, to be precise. PlanetUp is the latest in news aggregation with an environmental edge. Calling itself "The Most Sustianable Site On The Web," it's a green Digg but with a twist. Every time a link is submitted, PlanetUp gives funding to carbon offset projects. And they offer a whole lot more than just news (and feel-good carbon offsets) to readers. The basics are familiar - you sort through various categories like news, tech, entertainment, health and so on to check out the latest stories submitted by fellow news junkies. You vote the stories up or down based on how much you like them. But there's a twist.

When you start your account, you measure your carbon footprint. And as you participate in the site and add stories, your carbon footprint is lowered since more activity means more funding is sent to carbon offset projects for each story submitted.

It Might Work, It Might Not
Here's another twist that is kinda of cool, kind of bleck - the Click Green And Win feature. Watching advertisements. When you watch an ad, you receive carbon offsets credited to your PlanetUp Carbon Account, donation money for your favorite non profits and points that you can be trade for cash or use in their Carbon Offset Store. The rewards are great, but it smacks of "Earn $100K from home by taking surveys!!"

Yes, it's the primary way they get the funding for the carbon offset projects. But we aren't sure if such a direct path between users and advertisers will be a turn off for those who might otherwise consider using this instead of something like Digg for perusing the news.

Legitimacy Behind Carbon Offset Projects
It's easy to feel very wary of carbon offset services and projects. If you're curious about the legitimacy of the carbon offsetting, PlanetUp states it is ISO 27001 certified, which essentially means they have a reputable carbon offset inventory management system in place, and the flow of money from sponsors to end users is secure. The offset projects they work with are prominently listed on the site as well.

PlanetUp states, "Each of the projects we work with are examined in-depth through exhaustive on-site verifications by recognized accredited organizations. This guarantees that the benefits you earn by spending time on the site translate into transparent, high quality carbon offsets."

So, if you want an alternative to whatever news aggregation site you're currently using, check out PlanetUp and see if it suits your style.

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