New Google Tool Evaluates Your Lifestyle's Impact On The Planet

Did you know that the average American family uses 300 gallons of water every day?

Taking a few extra minutes in the shower or throwing away food may seem like no big deal, but it has a bigger impact than you think. Google is reminding people of that with its new interactive tool, Your Plan, Your Planet, which helps users assess how their small daily habits can affect the environment in larger ways. 

The new Google tool, rolled out in partnership with the California Academy of Sciences, evaluates your sustainability practices across three main areas: food, water, and energy. Simply click on one of the areas and then answer questions about your usage, from the typical length of your showers to how many loads of laundry you wash per week. Based on the information inputted, the tool provides tips on how to change or tweak your practices to more effectively preserve energy and reduce waste.   

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One such tip? Even if you're only doing two loads of laundry a week, it's important to remember that the wash cycle temperature you use can still have a significant impact. As the Google tool reminds you, washing your clothes with hot water uses up to 10 times the energy as using cold water. According to Your Plan, Your Planet, it would take 472 kilowatt hours of energy — or as much carbon dioxide as driving a car for over 12 hours — to wash your clothes in hot water over a year-long period. Conversely, using cold water would use only 42 kilowatt hours of energy annually, or the carbon dioxide equivalent of driving a car for two hours. 

The tool offers similar efficient tips in food and water usage as well. With the average American family using 300 gallons of water every day (equal to three full swimming pools), the tool suggests you make every drop count by shortening your showers and using a water smart shower head. It also shows how you to save up to two-thirds of food thrown away from spoilage by using proper storage places in the fridge or freezer. 

Shifting your habits to become more environmentally friendly can seem daunting if you don't know where to start. But the Your Plan, Your Planet tool serves as a great reminder of how small, simple changes can make a world of difference. 

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