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The internet is a tool for many things. You can use it to organize your life, educate yourself, socialize, promote your business or just waste time. All of these topics have been covered extensively on MakeUseOf. Today I want to show you how you can use the World Wide Web to help save energy and resources which in turn will save you money and preserve the environment.

For a start I have to partly destroy a myth. You have probably heard about the search engine Blackle which claims to save energy due to dark screens requiring less energy than light screens. In fact, this is only true for CRT monitors. On LCD monitors a mainly black screen may actually consume more energy than a predominantly white screen [Source]. Although the difference is marginal and also depends on your individual monitor, what remains is the spirit: every little bit, no matter how tiny, will help to make a difference – and this is where you come in.

Understand the ecological footprint

A global footprint of 1 means that it takes the Earth one year to regenerate what we use in one year. So this is the maximum footprint our planet can handle in the long run. Currently, humanity as a whole has a footprint of 1.3 and that global footprint will reach 2 by the 2030’s. That means our ecosystem will soon begin to collapse entirely. That’s unless we do something about it.

You can learn more about the ecological footprint on Global Footprint Network. There is also a personal footprint quiz available for people from the USA and Australia.

Calculate your footprint

The calculation will give you an idea of how much you and people with a similar footprint will have to improve in order to take up less space and let the rest of the world fit in.

There are many different types of footprint calculators. Most will calculate your carbon footprint. The more details they ask of you, the better you’ll be able to realize where you can possibly save. On the other hand, you may not be able to give all the details. However, more important than to calculate the exact footprint is to understand where you can decrease your footprint.

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The best and most comprehensive calculator I found was the Ecological Footprint Quiz from MyFootprint. Most calculators are only available for single countries. This one however is available for all countries on this planet. Below you see an exemplary result.

Take action

Now that you have an idea of how lavish your lifestyle really is, it’s time to do something about it. You can achieve a lot with small changes that don’t even hurt (much). It does take some thought and possibly some extra time, but the quality of your life will increase rather than decrease. The really good news is, it may save you money quickly and it may save your life or the lives of our children in the not so distant future.

Cut Your Footprint has a list of the Top 10 Ways to Cut Your Carbon Footprint , which is a great way to get started if you have no idea at all.

Here’s the short version:

1. Use energy saving compact fluorescent light bulbs
2. Measure your Footprint – hopefully you already did. :)
3. Avoid plastic grocery bags.
4. Use a programmable thermostat to heat your home.
5. Recycle!
6. Properly Inflate your tires.
7. Run only full loads of washing for clothes and dishes.
8. Air seal and insulate your home.
9. Air dry your washing.
10. Use a water saving shower head.

A much more detailed list can be found in the wikiHow article How to Save the Environment at Home. Follow the links at the bottom for many more great articles.

Finally the longest list of realistic items and the one I most highly recommend everyone to go through is from Sustainable Environment for Quality of Life: 100 Ways to Save The Environment.

Spread the word

If you’re so inclined and really want to make a difference, get your friends involved and help them get started. This is not just a fashion, it really matters.

What do you do to preserve the environment and what are you never going to do?

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