Today on Maggie’s Mightygoods blog, I noticed a product called Terrapass. It’s essentially a little green licence you buy for your car — the money you give is proportional to the environmental damage your car causes and is spent on projects that neutralise that damage.

My first thought on this was it was a bit too first-world-get-out-of-jail-free. Rich people can’t live without the convenience of a car, so they’ll just pay their way out of their social responsibility. Then I realised that it is one of the cleverest concepts I’ve seen in a long while.

I’ve written before about how being green needs to be easy. People need a reason to do things and the warm cuddly feeling you get inside from saving forests in a distant land isn’t enough for some people. That’s why more people will campaign to stop a local green belt (really just a strip of grass) from being developed than will try to do something to save the Amazon.

That said, if the effort to do things is pretty similar, but one action carries that “feel good”, or a moral imperative, or whatever factor that makes it more desirable, then it is more likely to be taken. So, for your average person who drives their own car to work, they might consider public transport as an alternative. They might even try it for a week. But then after it takes twice as long, seems more expensive and doesn’t allow them to sing along loudly to Queen on their way to work, they’ll probably go back to the car.

Projects like Terrapass give people an easy way to be greener. Which is bound to be more successful than preaching or getting between your kids and their happy meals.