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Greenscroll hits early milestone on mission to offset web's enviro damage

The internet, it's been widely remarked, turns the world into a giant town hall. Activist messages can spread via social networks to the corners of the globe in minutes. Meetings can take place across continents. Reams of data can be analyzed, mailed and archived without ever using up a single sheet of paper.

But all that transformational power eats up a lot of energy, most of it fossil-fuel devouring electricity. Three entrepreneurs in Toronto realized the toll the internet was taking on the earth early last year, and decided to do something about it.

In July 2009, healthcare technology entrepreneur Nikolai Bratovski, tech developer Sasha Baksht and journalist John Carson founded Greenscroll. The non-profit company takes donations from websites wanting to negate their environmental footprint and invests the money in renewable energy projects. Companies who participate receive a certification button to place on their website.

"We love the net, it's a subject close to our hearts," co-founder and "Communications Scroller" Carson says, noting that all three of the founders earn most of their living through technology. "But we looked at what we were doing and decided it was time to give back. We're trying to create a sustainable internet."

Six months after they launched, the group has signed up 15 partner companies and claims to have "greened 65,000 pageviews," bringing 12 megawatt hours of renewable energy to the internet. This milestone was reached on January 10, when the company received its first renewable energy certificate. "It's early going and these are small steps," Carson says, "right now we're focused on getting the word out."

As of today, the entire enterprise is staffed by volunteer labour, but the workforce has doubled since the company's launch -- the founders have been joined by three other "full-time" volunteers, Carson says. He points out that the non-profit, volunteer structure is exactly what the founders want: "We're trying to fight climate change, not profit from it."

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: John Carson, Co-Founder and Communications Scroller, Greenscroll

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