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EcoNudge is a comprehensive eco-habit development platform that combines the core facets of habit development – motivation, ability and cues – to help users develop environmental-conscious habits (“green habits" or "eco habits").

CUES

It's one thing to be determined to have an eco-friendly lifestyle. But action is taken when we remember to take it, at the right place and at the right time.

EcoNudge facilitates this by allowing users to set eco-habit alerts that are activated by a combination of geographical, temporal and transaction-based triggers, depending on the type of eco-habit.

 

For instance, a reminder to opt for non-disposable cups when having a coffee at a café would only be triggered if the user is at the cafe (geolocation) and a transaction is made to purchase a coffee at the café (transaction-based). Likewise, a user can set reminders to reduce his or her use of printed materials and turn the lights off when not in use, the user is in his or her office (geolocational) between working hours (temporal).

MOTIVATION

Environmental preservation and protection is a global concern. It is from this fundamental understanding that we saw the need to align incentives at a community level, and we saw an opportunity to leverage social media towards this purpose.

Our research highlighted, among other things, the following issues with developing eco habits at the individual level:

  • Individuals are not always able to identify the positive impact of their eco habits on the environment.

  • Individuals do not see any tangible benefit to themselves of engaging in eco habits. In many ways, undertaking an environmentally-conscious lifestyle is a thankless endeavour for the benefit of the world more generally.

  • Even if there is a degree of individual motivation, the effort in adopting eco habits far exceeds the perceived benefit or impact to the individual.

With these points in mind, we sought to leverage visual records (mobile-captured photos) to materialise each eco-habit-related action. For instance, a user who has opted to use a tote bag instead of plastic bags for grocery shopping can take a photo of the tote bag during her grocery run. Likewise a user can proudly take a photo of her coffee in an in-house mug rather than a disposable one to create a photo record of that small, but nonetheless successful, green choice. Once a number of these photo records have been accumulated over time, EcoNudge can be used to create increasingly impressive photo collages that can be shared on social media, making their efforts known to the world (and thus extracting social recognition in validation of such efforts (similar to receiving "likes" for a photo of an event a user is proud of)) as well as making it known to the world at large that someone is taking positive steps towards contributing to the preservation of our environment. 

 

In recognition of the concern that individuals have little power to save the global environment, EcoNudge has a feature that will allow users to form teams to adopt and complete certain eco habits together. Not only does it create social engagement (saving the world is more fun as a team), but the compiled graphs of the team's collective impact gives users visual proof of the exponential positive impact that collective groups can have towards an eco mission.

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Another characteristic aspect of EcoNudge's eco habit-tracking function is that it is not primarily focused on users being consistent with eco habits. Of course, consistency is key to one's positive impact on the environment over a period of time and the ultimate goal is to help its users develop consistent eco habits. However, EcoNudge's paramount focus is to remind its users that each action counts - recycling today, and forgetting to recycle the day after, does not change the fact that you recycled something. Typical habit trackers focus on a user's consistency streak, and records whether you have completed the relevant task on the relevant day. EcoNudge looks towards the long term and tracks the accumulated eco-friendly tasks that you have completed over time. This also serves to subconsciously reinforce the stance that it is OK if you forget to live in an environmentally-friendly way now and then due to your busy schedule - you can always pick up any time, and resume your contributions to protecting the environment.

ABILITY

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Regardless of the level of commitment to living in an environmentally-conscious way, users will need to rely on alternative products to carry on with their daily lives. For instance, a durable and easy-to-wash tote bag (for shopping), a flask (for your beverages) or equipment for composting. The EcoNudge Marketplace is where users can find what they need to equip themselves to complete their green habits. The EcoNudge Marketplace is also where users can keep up to date with environment-related current affairs as well as find guides and tips on how best to achieve their environmentally-conscious lifestyle goals.

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... and a little bit of fun

This is the part of the project that looks forward towards the development of the mobile tech scene, when mobile alerts and reminders become fully customisable. The main problem with alerts and reminders on our mobile phones is that they are all standardised and we have grown accustomed to tapping them "off" by reflex or ignoring them altogether. If we want an app to cue people into action, we need cues that will engage users. This is why we believe one of the best ways to achieve this is to gamify reminders and alerts to a minimal but material degree - notification micro-gamification. ​

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A note...

One of the underlying thoughts behind the conception of EcoNudge is the acknowledgement that for effective and sustainable concerted action, the interests of all stakeholders must be aligned. Typically, engaging in an environmentally-conscious lifestyle involves a degree of personal sacrifice which, at the most basic level, usually involves making an effort to choose or adopt a course of action that is less convenient. A simple example is recycling - it is so much easier to dump all your garbage into one can (except in places where you are compelled by law to do so). Similarly, carrying a bag around is less convenient than just relying on freely available plastic bags.

 

Because financial incentives aren't a sustainable way of developing a eco-conscious society (because who is going to pay for it?) and the individual personal benefits of adopting an eco-friendly lifestyle are not apparent (because it is hard to see how the eco habits of one person could change the course of global environmental decline), EcoNudge aims to, at the least, make the adoption of eco habits a little more fun, convenient, and tangible. The sense of personal sacrifice that comes with living an eco-friendly lifestyle is also divided and shared when users use EcoNudge as a tool to encourage their social circles to partake in environmentally-conscious living.  

Looking ahead to the future and the potential to develop EcoNudge into a more sophisticated lifestyle app, I would definitely consider how AI can be implemented to learn a user's habits and daily routine so as to be able to intelligently make eco-lifestyle suggestions without user input. Of course, this AI learning feature would be activated at the discretion of the user.

I hope you enjoyed reading about EcoNudge, and thank you for your time.

Concept, Design, Research, Photo Editing, Prototype Production, Video Recording and Editing, Voice and Audio, Website Design and Production by Charles G. Low

Made with Figma, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe After Effects, Adobe Rush, OBS Studio and VLC Player

Timeline for project: 4 weeks

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