Sustainability is a lifestyle that is increasingly gaining the collective interest, which widely talked about and experimented with. Thus what is the way to match a new lifestyle with the current social trends that capture it? A start-up has thought about it. We refer to Green Ape that combines social networking with the experience enhancing the concept of storytelling, which is so dear to the web, by coupling a scoring with the sustainable behavior. The idea comes from four co-founders with the expertise in the area of sustainability. We talk about it with Gregory Eve, GreenApes co-founder Chief Product & Creativity Officer.
Where does the idea of Green Ape come from and how is it being developed?
The project started in 2012, whereas in 2013 the App was released in experimental phase in which we were trying to understand if the users need to rather learn than socialize. On September 30 we have launched the service in Florence, and now we are working with Hessen in Germany which will be the European green capital in 2017. We are also talking about a great deal of European cities, but we do not want to grow too rapidly, as we think it is important to follow the emerging community for a few months in order to understand and improve the tool’s functionalities. Indeed, we operate at tangible level: activities, offers, gifts and also from the social point of view that could inspire others.
When you refer to “following the community,” do you mean performing actions in the course of the user integration?
We have an approach by means of which we combine the digital part with a concept I would define as “tangible world.” Thus we organize activities allowing for meeting people in the cities where we operate. For instance, we organize courses of vegan cuisine and creative recycling. These are the means of coming into contact with people and learning a more responsible lifestyle.
What specific feature of this App enhances sustainable behaviors?
We have adopted a reward-based approach: a citizen that performs sustainable actions collects points that can be used within the network of the App’s partners offering dedicated services such as discounts, gifts or exclusive rewards. We do not thing that a gift could influence a behavior. However, if we consider a great deal of persons declaring their interest in the environmental practices and a low number of those who manage to perform them, we believe the gift is an individually stimulating and incentivizing benefit so as not to “get discouraged.”
How has the community grown in one and a half months?
For the time being, we have about a thousand of the community members. The login takes place using the Facebook account where we have also our page. Therefore this keeps the spammers out. Moreover, we favor the sharing of sustainable activities by encouraging the approach of spreading of good practices.
The sharing is spontaneous and self-checked, whereas in order to get the reward points, the actions must be certified. We aim to develop the “sustainability ambassadors,” a factor measured on the basis of likes or comments that they are able to develop with my action online.
We are working on the App’s growth through the integration of technological actions which for instance, allow us to understand if we go by bike, by car or by means of car sharing … The release is scheduled forFebruary and it is part of the European project from which we have financed the development of this App.
However, there are numerous interactions and they can be put into the perspective of specific areas. For example, next months, along with a waste disposal company based in Florence, we will activate a service for which those who will deliver special waste to the waste separation and disposal units, will receive reward points.
What is the project’s economic model?
We offer a tools platform to the businesses that want to involve their employees in environmental behavior and social responsibility by means of gamification and eco-innovation. This platform is customizable so that it could be used precisely for the purpose of the companies and the users are charged for the access. We have already activated the service for a company of 5,000 employees and we are in touch with others.