“Would you like a copy of your receipt?”

We all have encounter this question far more often than we realize but sadly most of us never understood the impact of this. According to The Huffington Post, Over 250 million gallons of oil, 10 million trees and 1 billion gallons of water are consumed each year in the creation of receipts for the United States alone, generating 1.5 billion pounds of waste. Woahhh, that is something. These paper receipts float in our wallets, escape into seat cushions, crumple in pockets, fly into waste baskets or decay in boxes that are shelved and forgotten. As a team, we wanted to tackle this situation because the benefits of cutting down on receipts extend beyond the environment and our wallets.

What it does

Imagine a single application maintaining all your receipts digitally for you no matter which store, gas station or restaurant you go. Imagine the good you will be doing for the Mother Nature and for our upcoming generations.

What if we tell you, the same application allows you to donate money to the charity of your choice every time you go out for shopping, wouldn't that be an icing on the cake? We bet, it is!!!!!

Earthsy provides a platform where user can start contributing towards a greener earth by accepting and storing their digital receipts no matter where they shop. The same platform provides a way for users to donate towards a charity of their choice by rounding off their purchase to nearest dollar. The application assigns a Go Green Score to its users and the scores increases every time an individual makes eco-friendly choices like avoiding paper receipts. The better the score, the better discounts user will get from the participating stores which makes this whole process a win-win situation. Stores in return gets rebates from government for their participation in an eco-friendly approach. Users can also request an annual summary of their donations from the app in case they want to save some money on taxes.

Using Earthsy, all of us will be simply contributing towards the goal of sustainable earth as well as helping the people in need by making generous donations.

How we built it

Earthsy was designed to be a full fledged web application. We started with its design first, drew some wireframes, and then divided the task among us. The application was divided into two components: Front end and the back end. We developed Front End using HTML, CSS, Javascript, Jquery and we made our backend Server using nodeJs, Express and mongoDB. The backend server was deployed on Google Cloud Platform, utilizing their amazing PaaS service with built in node failover handling (thanks to MLH for the credits).

Challenges we ran into

We all were pretty novice in Javascript, specially Jquery and Ajax. It took us some time to learn these technologies along with bootstrap4 which we used to design our application to minimal aesthetics. The biggest challenge for us was to start with Google Cloud Platform and its App Engine. It took us around 2 hours to figure out how we can deploy our node app on their platform and then there were cases where the app was not responding. But thanks to the amazing mentors from Google, who helped us and guided us towards the path of success. Once we had a hang of it, we really enjoyed working with GCP as it offered rich services which were perfect for our use case.

Second biggest challenge for us was the CORS issue we faced. Our backend server was running on GCP and front end was running somewhere else and both systems were unable to talk to each other. It took us quite a lot of time to figure out how both systems can interact with each other without any issues.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We all learned something new and are really proud of making something which can actually help both environment as well as the charities needing generous donations.

What we learned

We learned a lot about web application development, and how much trouble it can be to invoke REST endpoints from your front end to back end as it involves lot of security concerns as data flows over the wire. We learned how easy it can be to deploy an app on a live cloud platform, and this will be really useful for us in our day to day college projects.

What's next for earthsy

We thought of extending the Earthsy to a next level by developing a mobile app with features like commute suggestion (guiding user with the best route to make it as low-emission as possible), adding feature to help user what they are trying to recycle, adding support to start fundraising campaigns etc which all sums to one and only one thing:

** Helping Humanity one step at a time **

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