Climate change may take place in the offline world, but that doesn’t mean the online world is relegated to mere words and worry about it. A clear example is the dedicated crew of young eco-activists at Hot Dish, a climate news-’n’-action application on Facebook. Hot Dish aims to move people from online engagement with climate news to offline action in the world where climate change is taking place. In a rush of impressive real-world environmental achievements, Hot Dish’s Action Team contest concluded last week. Battling for the crown of most climate conscious, Hot Dishers earned points for green efforts of all kinds: from sharing and discussing online environmental news to joining a CSA and writing to their representatives to even starting their own environmental groups.

Over the course of two months, average people posted and shared 3,600 news stories and completed more than 1,800 eco-challenges. By the end, the two most popular actions were recycling old electronics and taking online action (via internet petitions), which reflect the interesting online-offline dichotomy in activism Hot Dish encourages and which is a reality in the climate movement today.

recycle binsPump up recycling while pumping iron.Still not convinced anything worthwhile can come out of Facebook? Get a glimpse of the creative grassroots results spurred by the Hot Dish Action Team members:

  • Arizona State University senior Allion C. raked in over 47,000 points of green karma, clinching her spot as the grand prize winner of the Hot Dish Action Team. A few of her most notably karmic actions included persuading her gym to start recycling plastic bottles (pictured at right), having three letters to the editor published (see her letter to the Arizona Republic on hydropower here), and recycling her old washing machine. As the grand prize winner, she’ll be traveling to Greenland with Quark Expeditions this summer and reporting back here on the green-to-glacier ratio. (All travel-related emissions offset, natch.)
  • Other top Hot Dish leaders walking the talk were Inna L., who ditched her car for an electric bike and started an environmental committee in her condo complex, and Dave S., who convinced his parents to purchase renewable energy credits and implemented a recycling program at his father’s workplace.
  • Another Hot Disher aspiring to green greatness was JamieNicole B., who walked into a gently used clothing store seeking some easy-on-the-planet fashion and walked out having signed up to volunteer in the store, which donates proceeds to Save the Children. She’s also giving Umbra and GristTV some competition with her various video tips on greener driving, sustainable traveling, and energy-efficient computing.
  • A few of our other favorite sustainable actions inspired by Hot Dish were people writing to politicians in support of healthy oceans legislation, attending a Focus the Nation gathering on clean energy, making jam from local strawberries, creating a college composting proposal in the form of a Captain Planet episode (pictured below), and creating a community service-based environmental club on a college campus.

Captain PlanetGo planet! Beat climate change!

Sure, some of this eco-activism was encouraged by the lure of prizes from your favorite source of punny green news (that would be Grist — we accept donations!), Quark Expeditions, Center for Biological Diversity, Equal Exchange, Born Free USA, and artist Maria Coryell-Martin.

But another benefit stretching beyond Facebook and sure to outlast the Action Team prizes was the effect of moving Allison and others out of their comfort zones and into active participation in their communities, as they spoke up to and set the example for friends and strangers about environmental issues important to them. Which is a lot more than the average Facebook app can claim. That is, unless you have a progressive organization or cause that wants to build an application like Hot Dish too.