What's more environmentally friendly, a tomato grown here in the Netherlands or one exported from Spain? Here's a hint it's a trick question. That's because the amount of energy used to grow tomatoes in a climate where they don't naturally grow results in much higher emissions than if they to simply export it in bulk. The problem is consumers have no way of knowing that. There simply isn't any carbon transparency. Consumers, as shown by the millions of protesters protesting for a better future with the likes of a Swedish girl by the name of Greta Thunberg, are extremely passionate about conscious consumerism and being more cautious in our capitalist world. Therefore, I wanted to put the power back in consumers hands to instead of asking for governments and firms to change their habits, they could be the drivers of it by substitute their online purchases for ones of lower carbon footprint.

What it does

Carbonly is a chrome extension that tracks all your online transactions to build a complete online carbon footprint. Using this accurate footprint (unlike carbon calculators) you can either one-time or subscription-based offset all your transactions. But this simply wasn't enough. We wanted to create a social experience and with that we allowed anyone to connect over the platform by adding friends and tracking each other total offsets in order to motivate each other to create a better world. We drive change in a number of different ways, from substituting products now that we know the footprint of every single of of them to then offsetting transactions cheaply and seamlessly that we wouldn't have done otherwise.

How we built it

Using a number of technologies mentioned in the platform. First, we created the web-app by using CSS templates from Colorlib. We then connected it to a Mongo atlas database and used MERN to create authentication. Then using the json web token from the web app we were able to connect the extension. The extension is the key here as it is what creates the most value. The extension web scrapes any of our four integrations and gets all the data needed to be able to make a judgment about what product you're searching up. It will get the name such as 'Granny's Jam' and then look up in the JSON file what that is most similar to and get the CO2/kg and multiply that by the amount of kg your are buying. We then inserted the total CO2 into the page for the user to be able to make more rational choices with regard to the environment. We then ranked the products by total emissions to the user can find the most eco-friendly one.

Challenges we ran into

Countless. The database was always an issue and times when I thought it was just running slow it happened that I create an awlful system for loading. Heroku also causes a lot of issues especially with NPM.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

All of it. We put the entire hackathon of hours into it and we think it turned out quite well. We're most proud of the functionality as that was definitely the hardest part, but the UI also turned out to be very user-friendly and I think we accomplished our goal of creating a valuable alternative to carbon calculators..

What we learned

That we should never be too optimistic or think we could accomplish so many things in a given time. Also we should plan ahead better as we did a lot of things very close to the deadline that could have caused the entire hackathon to be for nothing, so that was a close call.

What's next for Carbonly

There's so much more for Carbonly. We want to add integrations into as many online marketplaces as possible, especially those where consumers have a strong influence such as in fashion, online retail, travel and more. We also want to boost the social features to allow challenges, chatting, goals and more motivating and gamified features to keep users offsetting. Most important of all, to achieve our mission we want to add subscription-based offsetting so consumers can set it and forget it and always know in the back of their mind that they're leaving a prosperous Earth for all future generations. Lastly, we want to improve our data to make as accurate as we can. We also want the extension to be able to analyse different factors apart from CO2 equivalent such as water use, land use, recylability, use of scarce resources, etc.

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