Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO ) is proving that you do not need to be a bricks-and-mortar business to make a physical difference in the world. The "Yahoo! for Good" website is a tangible way it has harnessed the intangibility of the e-world to promote social and environmental responsibility.
It may be a little easier to see how a company like General Electric (NYSE: GE ) can use its business operations to foster a healthier planet. Let's talk light bulbs.
Through its ecomagination initiative, for instance, GE aims to develop more energy-efficient products like its compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs, which use up to 75% less energy and last 10 times longer than traditional bulbs. Likewise, a company like Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT ) can show tangible evidence that it cares about the environment by switching to energy-efficient lighting systems in its massive stores. But how can a company like Yahoo! participate in the green movement? It can do so by engaging the public through the use of information -- by talking about energy-efficient light bulbs, for example.
This past May, Yahoo! launched a website called Yahoo! Green with the primary aim of "raising awareness" of environmental issues -- like the benefits of replacing old bulbs with new CFL ones. Its 18seconds.org website actually tracks the number of CFL bulbs sold nationally and locally. Try it out yourself -- it is pretty cool. I entered in the city where I live -- Columbus, Ohio -- and found out that as of Jan. 1, 2007, it was ranked 61st in the U.S in terms of CFL bulb purchases per capita. We Buckeyes have some work to do, obviously.
This is just one of many examples of Yahoo!'s efforts to promote green through its online networks. Additionally, Yahoo! Autos offers the "Green Center" that is available to prospective car buyers looking for fuel-efficient vehicles. Similarly, Yahoo! News has a subsection devoted solely to environmental news.
Yahoo! isn't alone in its effort to use the e-world to promote a green one. News Corp.'s (NYSE: NWS ) MySpace frequently partners with various nonprofits on issues relating to poverty and the environment. And Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) , through Google.org, is helping on multiple fronts. But perhaps more so than any other power in the e-universe, Yahoo! is showing how a vast online network can be simultaneously used for competitive and charitable purposes.
By spreading the "good" news through a network that generates ads, Yahoo! offers a perfect example of how a business does what it is designed to do (make money) while simultaneously doing what it ought to do (make a positive difference in the world).
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