EcoVillage is a lifestyle tracking app for carbon emissions that tracks all aspects of your day. EcoVillages enables individuals to manage their impact on the environment in a fun, intuitive, and impactful way.
We used the name Ecovillage, a model of living that looks at sustainability in four dimensions: social, economic, environmental and cultural.
Our app applies these principles to life in urban communities using gamification to incentivize positive change and environmental education. We want to make offsetting your carbon footprint seamless and unobstructive, while giving you a visual representation of your ecological impact. Too often people are bombarded with environmental facts and figures that simply cannot be processed by the human brain. EcoVillage turns that strategy on its head by showing you a virtual village, and the impact your carbon emissions have on it.
What it does
Not only does our application create awareness, but it makes offsetting carbon emissions, through different channels (like donating resources to plant trees, etc. - Payments supported securely using Square), seamless. It also encourages a positive community by competing with your friends to see who has the lowest carbon footprint.
How we built it
We built a two-part product that is composed of an application built on Flutter (a cross-platform framework to create mobile, web, and desktop applications with a single source code) to track an individual's carbon emission created by our daily commute and travels. We use the Google Maps API along with a Flutter GeoLocation library to track coordinate displacement and calculate the distance in meters, which is then mapped to an estimate of carbon emission produced per kilometer, on average, by vehicles per year. The second component is a chrome extension that scrapes your online cart while shopping online to estimate a carbon emission based on how the products in your cart are produced and the packaging they come in. This chrome extension is interactive and clear to see and it integrates with our application to make an aggregated carbon emission count.
Challenges we ran into
Building the application in a language we had never used before (Dart) proved to have its own challenges. From object reference to promise handling, we ran into a lot of programmatic issues while also facing the challenge of understanding a new language. In addition, for our Chrome Extension, having a dynamic DOM from websites proved that the web-scraping had to be robust enough to handle these dynamic changes.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We all programmed and worked with technologies that we had never been exposed to before: Flutter/Dart (referencing objects and promise handling), Chrome Extensions, GCP, and even our own designer created wireframes for an application for the first time! Having this whole UI/UX translation process into code was a challenge in itself, so beyond the technical skills, our collaboration and teamwork was something we are extremely proud of.
What we learned
We learned how having a clear long term goal is good, but unattainable without clear, measurable, and independently do-able tasks. We also learned how important and valuable it is as a team-player to be flexible in the tasks that you have to work in, and having that ability to adapt and jump from task to task, across different technologies, based on the team needs, is essential.
What's next for EcoVillage
What's next for us? A greener world! We want to encourage people to be aware of their carbon footprint, but awareness, today, is not enough. We allow people to take action, and having this product in the market will help people do that, without getting out of their way or in an inconvenient way. We allow them to make a difference in a seamless, simple, and interactive way.