Personal finance and accounting software can be used to keep track of expenses such as food and clothing, but it can also be handy for tracking spending on environmental choices such as using mass transit instead of a car, or buying organic food instead of processed food.

A thought-provoking article on the site Sustainablog by Caitlin Owyang, who does online outreach for the small business accounting firm Profitwise Accounting, outlines how to use personal accounting software to do an “eco-audit.” She advises keeping track of how much money is spent on local, organic or fair trade food by labeling the expenses as “ECO” in the software. Software can also keep track of the amount spent on gasoline, and users can then compare it to the publicized national average. Bike riding and public transit can then help personal finance software users cut down on gas expenses.

The software can also be used to track clothing purchases from environmentally friendly or socially responsible apparel makers, and to keep tabs on utility bills while striving to lower them. Accounting software can also be used to keep track of purchases of electronics and plastic items that have a negative environmental impact.

The concept of keeping tabs on such expenses may not appeal to everyone, but for those who are environmentally conscious, personal accounting and finance software could provide a useful tool for making a positive impact.