(Credit: Google)

Over the years, Google has needed to get very good about power consumption to keep the electrical bills of its data centers under control. Some of its data centers have crunched numbers so intensely that it's apparently resorted in the past to installing them on barges cooled by bay water.

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In short, the company knows a thing or two at this point about efficient use of the juice, and today it's launched a conservation-minded web app to help the general public figure out smarter ways to not only use electricity but also conserve water and reduce food waste. And believe it or not, you may learn a thing or two about toilets and avocados along the way.

Through one set of interactive demos, Google feeds you some trivia about your fridge, freezer, and pantry. In one scenario, you are shown a pile of different foods, and you must decide the correct place in your kitchen to store them.

For example, flour lasts twice as long in the fridge as it does in a kitchen cabinet, and eggs are still good for up to three weeks after their sell-by date. (Pro tip: You can confirm your egg status by dunking it in a bowl of water. If it sinks, it's edible, but if it floats, you should toss it.) Also, once a package of nuts is opened, it should be stored in the fridge to keep the oils from oxidizing and losing their flavor.

Once you've finished one of the three scenarios, you'll be given some bonus trivia, plus free downloadable PDFs with printer-friendly infographics.

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At the end of the scenario, you can also make a pledge to improve on the choices that you've made in the past, such as "Eat or freeze my leftovers" or "Use up what's in my fridge." If you want to fully commit, you can log into your Google account at this website to keep track of your pledges.

A note on donating to food banks during the holiday season

Of course, you may have food at home that you don't think you'll be able to eat before it expires. And with every holiday season comes the tide of donations to food banks in your area. We can use Google's search engine to find local food banks, or even websites dedicated to mapping them all and pointing you to ones that are near you, such as Feeding America.

However, be aware that canned goods are actually low on the priority list for most food banks, as they are heavy and relatively expensive, and most shelters can take the money you spent on one can and buy several times as many, thanks to bulk pricing. Instead, the food bank is better off if you give them a cash donation and distribute your unwanted items to friends and family.

The takeaways

  • Google has launched a web app called "Your Plan, Your Planet" featuring interactive scenes educating you about the effects of wasted food, water, and electricity.
  • The app includes a lot of trivia related to food preservation that you may not know.
  • If you have food that you don't intend to use, you should donate it to friends and family instead of a food bank. A cash donation will go much further, thanks to the bulk pricing that the banks can take advantage of.

Also see

Tom McNamara is a Senior Editor for CNET's Download.com. He mainly covers Windows, mobile and desktop security, games, Google, streaming services, and social media. Tom was also an editor at Maximum PC and IGN, and his work has appeared on CNET, PC Gamer, MSN.com, and Salon.com. He's also unreasonably proud that he's kept the same phone for more than two years.