A few months ago I contacted Susan Hunt Stevens when I stumbled across her blog, Practically Green, while looking for a better way to dispose of my broken down clock radio rather than add it to landfill for posterity’s sake. We’ve been in contact since then and, as it turns out, Susan and her team of moms, online experts and passionate “greenies” were at the beginning of turning a simple blog into a helpful and informative new website of the same name. I’ve been using Practically Green ever since to help me establish where I stand in the green realm and what steps to take to do better.
Benchmarking. When you first use Practically Green you can take a quiz to find out just how green you really are. It’s a way to see what you’re already doing and what steps you can take to lighten your CO2 load. Unlike other online “green lifestyle” quizzes I’ve taken, this one is quick but accurate. For the most part, when I’ve taken other quizzes, the quick ones are incredibly inaccurate while the detailed ones have you pulling out a year’s worth of utility bills for measurement. Practically Green has done a lot of thorough research behind their quiz, so if it seems simple, it is, but the results are sophisticated. The quiz focuses on your current lifestyle behaviour. Once you’ve completed the quiz you’re given a rating from “Barely Green” all the way up to “Superbly Green.” I hate to brag, but I’m, ahem, “Impressively Green,” second highest level. The quiz gives you points in four categories: Water Use, Energy, Health and Stuff. These are great categories because they basically cover everything from the kind of materials you shop for and put in your home, to what you eat, what kind of transportation to use. Your initial score serves as your benchmark. My worst marks were in water efficiency, something I’ll have to investigate further because I thought I was actually doing well in that area — I see aerators in my future!
Achieving the next level of “greeness.” Once you’ve figured out your starting point, the site offers endless way for you to advance to the next level of “greeness.” It also gives you the opportunity to commit to different actions and you’re awarded a different number of points depending on the action taken (ie. “carpooling” gets way more points than “using cold water for laundry” which also acknowledges the increased effort level and benefits).
Each time you log in and go to your account you see how you’re doing. You can also share your efforts with your friends and invite them to join in. Doing something in a group can further help you achieve your goals. Practically Green also shows you how you’re doing in comparison to other Practically Green participants. If you’re competitive, this is a great way to push you to do better.
The detailed explanations as to why you should take a particular action are also helpful and all of the information on the site is backed up with authoritative data and more resources if you’re interested in learning more about a subject.
Finally, once you’ve committed to taking a particular green action, the site offers suggestions for the materials you can use and, if possible, where they’re available. Practically Green is still in its early stages so give it a try! They’re always looking for feedback to continually improve the site.