Can Virtual Recycling On Facebook Help Clean Up Trash In The Real World?

Waste Management, the largest recycler in North America, is releasing Oceanopolis, a new social game to encourage conservation of resources.

Waste Management, the largest recycler in North America, is releasing Oceanopolis, a new Facebook game to encourage real world clean-up and conservation of resources.

According to Waste Management’s social network site Greenopolis, Oceanopolis is a virtual world that encourages players to earn points by clearing waste and recycling virtual trash as they build their own sustainable community.

More than teaching the lessons of recycling, however, Oceanopolis transfers the good done in the virtual world to our real one.  Points earned by keeping your island clean translate into printable coupons that can be used at a range of movie theaters, restaurants and retail stores.  On the flip side, virtual points can also be earned through real life recycling or by blogging on the Greenopolis site.

The sponsor-site Greenopolis is going even further to encourage recycling and reduction of waste by supporting real-world clean-up projects.  As part of its promotion for Oceanopolis, Greenopolis promises to donate $1 for each Oceanopolis tweet that occurs during Seattle’s Casual Connect Conference, ending this afternoon.  All proceeds will go to the non-profit Ocean Aid in its fight against ocean pollution.

Even after this fundraiser finishes, however, Greenopolis vows to support other recycling programs. As another option to the promo coupons earned on Oceanopolis, players can also opt to turn their points into real cash donations funded by Waste Management.

Oceanopolis represents a new approach to environmental sustainability that aims to capitalize on popular social gaming and a location-based coupon system.  It will be interesting to watch how effective this new social game will be inspiring real-life environmental conservation.