In preparation for the Helyx Hackathon, we noticed a gap in the market: something nobody around us was talking about, something which almost never comes up as an issue in our country - the carbon footprint of the goods we consume on a day-to-day business. We asked our families, our friends, what they knew about the carbon footprint of the goods they regularly consumed, what they knew of the impact the products had on the environment and what they knew about the companies producing the goods and how they affected the environment, and we came back with no results. There is a lack of information on how the goods we consume affects the world around us as it goes from producer to plate, and so we believe that our project, Sustainable, can make a difference in raising awareness of how the carbon footprint of goods affects us ourselves, and get the population to buy more organic, more eco-friendly products for use in their everyday lives.

What it does

Our project, Sustainable, acts as a search engine built for consumers who want to make a difference in the environment, allowing them to find the carbon footprint of the products they consume through searching for the products on our website, or selecting the products through categories which we have chosen to reliably represent all goods and products our consumers would want to search on our website. Our website will also show different brands which we believe are environmentally friendly and produced in a sustainable manner, serving as recommendations of what brands our more environmentally conscious users would benefit from selecting. This would, in the future, further be built into partnerships with environmentally sustainable brands to provide deliveries and service of fresh and organic goods, and to deliver further information on how these products and these businesses help the environment. With further investment, we also would look to offer choices for consumers of different dietary needs, whether that be veganism, gluten-free products, or allergies to particular substances, to give these people more information on what would fit in with their dietary requirements, for those who are looking to become vegan, or gluten-free, and keep those with allergies from buying products which may have particular substances in them or from buying from brands which may also work with those substances, perhaps in the same facilities.

What we found difficult

In the process of coding the website, one difficulty which came up was the search bar tool. It was an integral part of our project, as a search engine for food products and their carbon footprints, but myself and Tselmeg, the two lead programmers, had difficulties trying to create it, at first, and then had some difficulties with implementing it into the page. We seemed to have no luck at first, creating more of a drop-down box list than a search bar, but finally, after many tries and many fails, we managed to create a working search system. We also had difficulties creating the database for the products, having little experience with SQL and PHP, and so data entry at first was more than a little difficult. We persevered, and managed to get our data entered with SQL, and we bridged that to our HTML with PHP. The reason why we used SQL, rather than simpler alternatives is the fact that SQL is more future proof and easier to expand on since only the database would need to be expanded on rather than changing the entire site.

What we were proud of

Our whole team believes that the design of our website is an amazing design: very user-friendly, bright and colourful, and something which almost entices users into our website. The colour palette meshes well together, and Tselmeg and I, the lead programmers, had more of an easier time with the HTML, JS and CSS aspects of the coding, as we had much more experience in these fields. We all worked together every step of the way, so our team is proud of our teamwork and communication, which enabled us to bring Sustainable to life.

What we learnt

We learned about the carbon footprint of many of our favourite goods, particularly in our research stage, and we learned about the gap in the market for our product as we searched for information online about the goods and brands we included on our website, as we could not find the information very easily at all, trawling the depths of the web to find some of our eco-friendly brands and their certifications. In terms of the programming, we learned more about PHP, JS, and SQL, although we still have a lot to learn, and we managed to create a search bar, which was a very big stepping stone of progress. In the end, we found that our end product after these three days of working tirelessly and vigorously was what we wanted. We wanted a product that doesn't exist on the market. Right now, there are only websites and apps simply made to monitor your carbon footprint - nothing of the likes of our product. Our product, seamlessly, provides awareness of the carbon footprint, the calories, the toxic ingredients, and recommended brands with certification all in a single search engine.

What's next for Sustainable

With further time and investment, we would look to implement the aforementioned partnerships and brand deals with environmentally friendly producers, providing a delivery service for fresh and organically sourced goods, and establishing brand deals to allow eco-friendly producers to give more information to our users about the production process, and what steps are taken to ensure the least harm is done to the environment. Further features we wish to implement would include support for dietary plans and requirements, showing our user base which foods will fit in with dietary restrictions such as veganism, vegetarianism and allergies to certain foods or food substances, giving more information which is especially necessary for those who wish to start dietary choices such as vegetarianism, veganism, low-carb diets and gluten-free diets. We would also hope to expand this dietary information idea into a diet tracking system where users could log their weight changes day-to-day, the number of calories they eat every day, and certain diet plans and foods which would work well for them and are environmentally friendly. We would pair it with a user-friendly interface and simple data entry from the user, to make it a desirable diet planner for all. Another way we plan to branch out in the future is shifting our sole focus from food products to expand to other industries, such as make-up, fashion and cleaning products, to provide more information to a wider user base and push our message of using low carbon footprint, ecologically sustainable products to more and more people, to further the effect our website will have.

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posted an update

April 12th notes:

Key stages of design, programming and data analysis:

Today, we got into full motion with our programming, with Tselmeg and I working closely with Michelle, our designer, to get our website up and running. We encountered some difficulties with the search bar, at first, but we managed to work through these difficulties. Design went relatively smoothly, as communication was good online as we all worked together on front-end programming. Back-end programming was not as simple, however, as we are both new to php and sql, which means data entry of the data collected by Nomin-Erdene may prove difficult. We try a lot of things, seeing what sticks and what doesn’t, and we manage to come out of the process with a pretty well-functioning website. It’s not the finished product, but it shows great glimpses of what it could become given the time and resources: a website that could benefit so many, and help us to restore our environment. We have great hopes for our website, our brain-child, and we really believe that it could go far in the future.

We managed to get everything up and running, smoothing out a few errors and a few wrinkles along the way, and we now have Sustainable right before us: what a beauty.

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posted an update

April 11th notes:

Choosing the platform and the topic:

We eventually chose our platform to be a website for the following reasons:

All of us are more proficient in website development and, unfortunately, the only person who is capable of making an app is Amour. It was much easier to create a search engine within a website. We believed the design of the end product would be better if done within a website.

We finalised the design of the website as well as a logo:

Amour has begun coding on the website.

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posted an update

April 10th notes:


An app that teaches sustainability An app search engine that shows the environmental sustainability of different products A compost monitoring app + teaches how to compost Environmentally sustainable restaurant guide

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