The social isolation brought about by the global Covid-19 Lockdown has made it hard for people to make new friends and reconnect with old ones. We sought to help bring people together by creating a simple social media app with simple tasks that would engage the users and give them a platform to connect on, including having the user grow their own little plant companion. We focused these tasks around the health and wellness of the environment in order to spread awareness and help generate an environmentally conscious user experience.
Environmental consciousness and social media go hand in hand in a few ways. Having small daily tasks helps users connect with other users who have similar tasks, a phenomenon we modeled after online games we played together with daily missions (Genshin Impact). One specific example of these tasks is a daily update photo, which displays yourself and your plant companion, the physical nature of which allows you to keep up with your friends more closely. Other of these have environmentally driven agendas, such as making searches on Ecosia, a search engine that plants trees, recycling items, and using reusables. With tasks being an important aspect in creating a sense of community on Leaflet, we chose to direct this productivity towards bettering the environment and shaping the perceptions and information of social media users. This is itself likely as impactful if not more impactful than the direct environmental benefits of the tasks, as there have been many studies in recent years that show the increasing social impact that social media has on the opinions and perceptions of the public.
What it does
Leaflet engages friends in a way that stimulates sustainability. With the added features of friends, shop, and levels, friends can compete to complete daily and weekly sustainability tasks for points and redeem for items that they can put in their virtual room. This allows for users to become positively motivated for the environment while having this sort of “virtual plant pet” and customization.
How we built it
In our social media/sustainability app, we first used Figma to design our website where we started with low fidelity grayscale designs and moved into more high-fidelity colored designs throughout the hackathon. To Prototype our designs, we used Anima to visualize what our website would look like. We used various frameworks and tools to assist in the coding of our website. For our front end, we used Node.js, React, various React libraries, and CSS/SASS to code our Figma designs and Python Flask as our back end server with Google Firebase as our database. To assist us with Firebase, we used the Pyrebase wrapper and within Firebase, we utilized their authentication system for user tracking and their database to store user data, friends, and tasks. We also explored Trefle.io API for global plants to generate plants for user facts.
Challenges we ran into
Getting started with Firebase since the Pyrebase wrapper would only work on one person’s computer.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We ended up liking our UI design and the concept of our website, as we found that it brought back memories of Webkinz and Tamagotchi from our childhood (interactive pets) while also serving the cause of sustainability.
What we learned
While researching more on sustainability, we found more information on the topic of global warming, climate change, and what we can do to improve life on earth. Furthermore, this was some of our team’s first time using React as the front end, and it became an insightful experience.
What's next for leaflet
We intend to expand upon the library of tasks to help better the environment, and as a social media platform, we would like to integrate with environmental organizations to get users involved in other programs, and provide a platform to give exposure to new innovations and discoveries in environmental science as well as updates on environmental movements.