The persistently growing threat of global warming looms on our horizon, and as young people, we feel that it is in our hands to put our foot down and stop it. It's no secret that a vast portion of Earth-warming pollution comes from industry. However, we felt that if the individuals responsible for making purchasing decisions on behalf of each company had access to both a personalized impact assessment and a way to browse sustainable long-term alternative purchases, this convenience would catalyze the ever-growing social pressure and lead them to more environmentally responsible decisions. The idea that we could potentially have this level of positive impact over just 24 hours was more than inspiring!
What it does
It all begins with a landing page allows you to select between the assessment and search capabilities. If the assessment is selected, the user is asked a number of questions regarding their business practices. This data is used to generate a projection of their waste impacts as time goes on, and draw comparisons between a number of statistical averages. They are also presented with a number of tips to create more sustainable habits and decrease their footprint!
Ideally, this projection would be enough to scare them into seeking more sustainable options as they continue to make recurring purchases. Lucky for them, we've implemented a place for them to seek such options without leaving our site! Upon navigation to our search page, all they've got to do is type in the product they wish to replace with a more economically friendly option, and they are presented with a list of alternative products spanning various online marketplaces.
How we built it
First, we wrote our vision statement, as we wanted to make sure the application accurately captured and represented our inspirations! Then we began setting up our components and component relations, creating diagrams to help the white-boarding process. We tried to use pre-built components wherever we could in order to keep a consistent style across the app and not reinvent the wheel in the face of time scarcity. We then collected our data, most of which is sourced from a variety of government, academic, and non-profit environmental studies. This data was then used to populate our assessment with quantifiable data that could be used to create an effective long-term projection of how the user's impact accumulates over time. Finally, we created a custom endpoint using a Google search API to allow us to powerfully search a number of popular online marketplaces for specifically eco-conscious options.
Challenges we ran into
One of our largest challenges was creating a solution which could allow almost any type of business to make more eco-conscious decisions. Upon further discussion, we decided that purchasing was a cornerstone of conducting almost all business, so we ran down that alley. Another problem was that an API that our app development depended on turned out to be extremely limited for unpaid users, so we had to spend a lot of time searching for another solution. Distractions were also a large challenge, as frequent (but awesome) breaks for announcements, tech talks, friends visiting, snacks, naps, and the Smash tournament (GO NOAH AND DTD!) really added up. Another challenge that we ran into was sourcing relevant data on both Lincoln and other communities, as much of the available was behind paid APIs.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We ended up with a pretty good looking conceptual demo that demonstrates most of our intended functionality successfully! Our team worked alllllll night! Noah won the Smash tournament with his team DTD! Some of us learned to nap on a cold concrete floor!
What we learned
If you choose to pivot, make sure you reassess how all existing functionality fits your new vision. Proof of concept for exactly what you need out of an API is essential before deciding to depend on it. Data should be verified first, not last. We also learned a lot about a number of styling libraries, developing efficiently but viably, using themes in angular web apps, and getting creative with solutions when you have to suddenly pivot!
What's next for What's the Cost?
First, we would love to finish our search functionality to include price comparisons over the long term to allow us to provide context on how little X cost is to decrease their Y pounds of waste. We would also like to provide scores for each product from A+ to F on how well they conform with standards of composition and eco-friendly manufacturing, to allow greater value and more informed decisions. These are features we could do easily by paying for the previously mentioned API. We would like to invest further time in our assessment to ensure the most relevant questions to business' Purchasers are presented as we learn more about their purchasing habits. This would include expanding the results page to include more data on their emissions, how they relate to Lincoln as a whole, and how this relates to other cities as a whole. This was hard for us to source because much of the available was behind paid APIs.
What's next? Whatever you like!