We are in the middle of a conservation crisis. People want to be part of the solution, but they don’t know how. With the right technology, the growing demand for eco-friendly products and services could explode. We are already witnessing the success of such businesses as solar energy, electric car and organic grocery companies. These green-practicing businesses are critical to shifting the world to a green economy that minimizes carbon emissions, air and water pollution and unsustainable exploitation. The same green-minded customers that are creating market demand for green products, are making daily choices regarding which businesses to patronize for dinner, hotel accommodations, airline travel etc; yet they do not have the tools to discern which are eco-friendly. Yelp, Trip Advisor, Google Maps etc. provide overall ratings and pricing, but not a rating of environmental practices. There is pent up demand for a tool that provides an easy way to find and promote eco-friendly businesses.
Every day we make frequent purchasing choices. Think of the coffee, restaurants, groceries, clothing, travel, and other goods and services we spend money on – often with little thought to the environmental consequences of these decisions. If an increasing segment of these choices can be directed toward businesses that incorporate “green” thinking into their practices, we can begin to bend the curve of current consumption and production practices towards environmental sustainability. Like a "Green Yelp", the Find Green App will enable users to find and promote businesses that demonstrate sustainable practices (e.g. recycling, reusable dishware, etc.) starting with coffee shops, cafes and restaurants where customers can easily observe green practices. The Find Green App is modeled after the numerous user-interface based rating systems for restaurants and other businesses (e.g. Yelp). However, in contrast, the Find Green rating will provide a rating of sustainability based on users’ responses to a series of simple questions tied to sustainability (e.g. Are plastics straws given to customers automatically? Are eat-in food and drinks served using reusable plates?). The responses will be the basis of a combined rating that will be viewed as one to five green leaves. The economic value of the App will be in creating a database of "certified" green businesses and green minded users. The App could eventually be incorporated into a broader rating App such as Google Maps.
The rating system, which is based on crowd sourcing of observable practices, will provide a fair assessment of sustainability.
There are enough eco-minded potential users to warrant this App
Individuals are increasingly inclined to direct their purchasing choices towards businesses that reflect similar environmental values to their own
Individuals will react positively to, and use, a mobile information tool such as a smart phone app to assist them in real time in finding businesses demonstrating green practices
Businesses will generally react positively to a live ratings system that reflect their environmental practices, particularly those businesses that are already making efforts to adopt these practices
Businesses will improve their environmental practices as a result of the Find Green
Businesses who are not presently practicing any form of environmental stewardship will become inclined to adopt sustainability into their mandate as a result of this app
Many of these same individuals will contribute to the development and robustness of the database by making the effort to conduct the Find Green rating survey
Information resources on the environmental practices of businesses are often scattered, not easily retrievable in real time, or simply not available. The primary constraint to addressing this problem is a comprehensive and easily accessible database that accurately reflects the environmentally sustainable practices of businesses across diverse retail sectors. The Find Green app will address this important information gap in easily identifying and finding businesses that incorporate observable environmental sustainable practices into their business models. The solution we are proposing is to generate this database primarily by collecting user ratings of observable “green practices” in retail businesses. The main challenges we see are: 1) ensuring sufficient user-ship to generate robust ratings; 2) businesses that are rated are aware of the ratings which motivates improved practices; and 3) creating a rating system based on simple questions that often have complex answers.
The immediate goal of Find Green is to develop and test a functioning beta version of the app, initially focused on coffee shops and cafes in a single test city (by end of 2018). The testing phase we estimate will involve several hundred users and up to 1000 businesses. User feedback and business engagement is key to refining our model and preparing for the next phase of development. The longer term goal of Find Green is to refine the app based on results from the testing phase, and market the app nation-wide. We will continually expand sectors covered on the app – including food/groceries, accommodation, travel and transportation, etc. Currently, the Find Green Team is pursuing a not-for-profit funding model. Over the course of this next phase of development, until the end of 2020, we expect to migrate the Find Green initiative to a social enterprise or for-profit model, which we believe will be consistent with bringing this effort to scale and ensuring long term sustainability.
The Find Green team currently includes environmental experts, a designer and an app developer. We are seeking a business and marketing expert who has expertise and experience building the business and marketing side of technology companies, preferably apps, and ideally in the field of conservation to develop the business and marketing strategy. They would determine the financial viability of the app, including revenue needs and viable sources of income. They would also identify key partners and social media mechanisms to solicit users. In addition, we are looking for assistance in the identification of potential grants and grantee organizations in the public, foundation, or private sectors which could support the next phase of development, marketing, and outreach.