Environ-Siri & Sadie

Environ is a social media and goal setting platform that makes environmentalism trendy and cultivates the next generation of changemakers.

Photo of Sirihaasa N
7 13

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Please confirm you meet the following criteria

  • We have submitted the supplemental form linked in the description above
  • We are aged between 14 - 20 as of February 11, 2021
  • We live in the United States or its territories (Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa)
  • We are not employed by, or directly related (parents or siblings) to a current General Motors (GM) or Ashoka employee
  • We have been working on this project for at least three months
  • We consent to Ashoka and/or GM featuring our work on their website, social media, and in other materials regarding this Challenge using the information in our application
  • We confirm we have the rights to use and share any content uploaded on this entry form

Website or social media url(s) (optional):

Environ website: https://environleaf.glitch.me/ | Environ Code: https://github.com/SirihaasaNallamothu28/Environ_Code | Environ In-depth video: https://youtu.be/HCRw7fJ3FnA | Why choose Environ? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kbnv1Ntd_F0&feature=youtu.be

Date You Started Your Project

July 13, 2020

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Start-Up (first few activities have happened)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

As humanity technologically advances and the human lifestyle surges forward, it is coming at an extremely steep cost-the environment. Issues such as global warming, limited natural resources, and reduced biodiversity have become increasingly politically polarized and divided with as many as 20% of Americans in climate change denial. Gen Z has inherited a broken, pillaged Earth and it is our job to fix it before it's too late.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Although there seems to be an infinite void of issues and challenges facing the environment, we can turn the current climate crisis around by all pitching in through a unified front. Through the right knowledge and resources, Gen Z can play a vital role in stopping Climate Change. This is where Environ comes into play. Environ harnesses the power of technology and the popularity of social media to enable users to make a difference in the environment and empowers them to influence and inspire others. Essentially, Environ makes it easy for anybody to be environmentally friendly. It allows users to set goals and make small climate-conscious lifestyle decisions that they can complete periodically. For example, users could set goals to replace plastic water bottles, bags, or straws with reusable ones, start composting, and even cut down on meat consumption. Environ also utilizes ‘influencing for good’, as users can create new ‘leafs’ or posts, to let others know what they have done! By providing achievable goals and simple solutions, along with harnessing the power of social media, Environ empowers anyone and everyone to make a change for the environment. environleaf.glitch.me

3. Please tell us how you are using science, technology, engineering or math to address your environmental challenge.

We are utilizing the power of technology and behavioral psychology in Environ to help address environmental issues, close the climate change information disparity gap and empower users to take a united stand in helping to alleviate the climate crisis through goal setting and social media. Environ is built off of the web development languages of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. In the future, when Environ expands its reach and audience, we hope to integrate SQL and database languages in order to ensure that the website is secure and encrypted when it is deployed under a specific domain name. We will also devise natural language processing and sentiment machine learning algorithms to help optimize user engagement and the environmental content they interact with. We have read a plethora of Social Media user engagement studies on how social media can provide independent activists with wider audiences, inform users on pertinent issues, and help users take action. We are using this knowledge to inform and further optimize Environ’s functionality, including how the algorithm will work towards influencing users to set goals and make habitual lifestyle changes.

4. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

Last summer, we were selected as scholars in Kode with Klossy. For our final project, we paired up to build a website on an issue we both cared about: the environment. Sadie's environmental journey began with a trip to Africa and the realization that she may not be able to share the beautiful animals she saw with her grandchildren due to reduced biodiversity, and Siri's began with the realization that the environmental advocates were often ridiculed by legislators. We both witnessed the power of influencing through social media. We also realized that there were platforms for posting aesthetic pictures, such as vsco, but none for instigating environmental change. We decided to make the first platform dedicated for Gen Z to raise their voices and create a collective impact. Environ was the result: A platform that influences users into making change, set goals and receive climate education.

5. Video (Keep it simple, your phone on selfie-mode is great): Please upload a 1-minute video to YouTube that answers the following “I am stepping up to be a Changemaker because...”

Sadie and Siri step up to be Changemakers

6. Please highlight the key activities you have carried out to bring your project to life.

We worked together to code the Environ website, which we originally shared with our fellow scholars as a simple slideshow. After receiving feedback from our peers, we built the site using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, working through many bugs along the way, and tweaking our logic for data validation. Once we launched the website, it included a log-in page, goal-tracking, and posting capabilities. We began spreading the word about Environ through presentations, and informational videos.

7. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

Environ is the first solution of its kind- it is both a social media platform and a way for people to set goals and take actions, making change one small step at a time. Most solutions for the environment have more long-term, systemic goals, Environ focuses on getting everyday people involved in smaller actions to help the environment so that they will stay motivated. The impact is multiplied via a larger community, as more people are able to commit to their goals and post about their journeys.This influencer-goal setting system is unique to Environ and immerses users in environmental justice.

8. Impact: In the last three months, please detail the impact your project has made.

Environ is currently in the idea stage, however we are working diligently to make a difference with this unique application. Once we get Environ’s database and user interface fine-tuned, and deploy it with a solid audience we plan to quantitatively measure the impact through user engagement research studies. We will analyze the amount of posts being created, comments on each post, and the amount of goals being set and reached. We will use this information, along with user survey results, to maximize community engagement by fine-tuning Envron’s functionality. Once we see that Environ is reaching the optimal level of user interaction on the desktop level we will start to slowly deploy additive features such as Environ’s machine learning algorithm for advanced recommendations of ‘leafs’ or posts. We will also deploy a mobile application in the future for easy access.

9. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

Moving forward, we would love to add more functionality to our website, including a login database so that users can create accounts and an improved posting mechanism. We would like to improve our marketing to get more people involved with Environ. For Environ to have a larger impact and influence, we need a larger community on the platform, so we plan to create accounts on existing social media platforms to get the word out about our project. We will also partner with other environmental organizations in our communities who may want to try out Environ so that people who are already involved with that group will take interest in Environ as well. This will help us gather a group that is already passionate about environmental action.

10. Please share how you have influenced other young people to get involved in your project and/or care about environmental sustainability.

Social media has become a major part of our daily lives and is particularly a favorite pastime of teens. Through the rise in internet influencers, we have also seen that social media is a persuasive tool. Teens are more likely to try something if they see others doing it on social media, and the same goes for environmentalism. With Environ’s social media style, teens are more likely to become involved, spreading environmental impact while also allowing teens to enjoy social benefits.

11. How would you partner with other changemakers to make a difference?

If another changemaker’s idea aligns with our vision of sustainability, we can partner with them by allowing them to share their solutions on our platform. This way, like-minded users can find out about their solution and get involved. We can also add another changemaker’s project as one of the tasks that our users can complete. We can use Environ’s social media capability to generate interest in both our platform and theirs and get greater numbers of people working towards sustainability.

12. How would you engage others who have never heard about your project to get their buy-in?

We would engage others through partnership with more well-known environmental organizations and brands that, allowing us to connect with a group of people who have already shown interest in the environment. We would also engage others by advertising the social media part of our website. This makes the site appealing to teens and sets us apart from projects that do not allow users to connect and share. We plan to use existing social media platforms to get a socially-focused crowd interested.

13. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support

14. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you? You’ll be able to select only one option.

  • Web/Mobile Development

Are you employed, or directly related (grand-parents, parents, sibling) to a GM or Ashoka employee?

  • No

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Search engine

Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka or General Motors, who was it?

N/A

Evaluation results

13 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

Yes, absolutely! - 69.2%

Probably - 7.7%

Maybe - 15.4%

Probably not - 7.7%

No - 0%

2. CONNECTION to Environmental Sustainability

5 - Absolutely! It is totally clear that the solution is contributing directly to environmental sustainability and/or addressing climate change - 66.7%

4 — Yes, it establishes a connection to environment/ climate change but could be stronger - 25%

3 — Somewhat, the entry speaks to this environmental sustainability, but the direct impact is not well established - 8.3%

2 — Not really, the connection to environment/ climate is very weak - 0%

1 — No. The entry does not have a reference the solution’s impact on environment and/or climate change - 0%

No Answer or No Connection - 0%

3. Is this entry CREATIVE?

5 - Yes, absolutely! - 58.3%

4 - Yes, I think so - 16.7%

3 - Maybe - 8.3%

2 - Probably not. - 0%

1 - No - 16.7%

No Answer - 0%

4. Does this entry demonstrate a COMMITMENT to changemaking?

5 - Yes, absolutely! - 100%

4 - Yes, I think so - 50%

3 - Maybe - 0%

2 - Probably not - 0%

1 - No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

5. Does this entry value CHANGEMAKING through collaboration with other stakeholders in its approach?

5 - Yes, absolutely! - 50%

4 - Yes, I think so - 25%

3 - Maybe - 16.7%

2 - Probably not - 8.3%

1 - No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

6. Is this entry VIABLE financially and operationally?

5 -Yes, absolutely! - 50%

4- Yes, I think so - 50%

3- Maybe - 0%

2- Probably not - 0%

1- No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

7. FEEDBACK: What are the strengths of this project?

CONNECTION: You have a great understanding and personal connection to the problem - 88.9%

CREATIVITY: You have researched existing solutions, and have developed unique, thoughtful new solutions to aid environmental sustainability/combat climate change - 88.9%

COMMITMENT: You have a thoughtful plan for growing your business, and your founding team has a strong combination of leadership and knowledge-based skills - 100%

CHANGEMAKER QUALITY: You value thinking around how to activate other changemakers and empower them to care about your cause. You also have a clearly defined plan on how to collaborate across multiple stakeholders - 100%

IMPACT MEASUREMENT: You use specific numbers and evidence to describe what your project has achieved so far (or plan to achieve in the future) and you have a plan for measuring impact - 33.3%

VIABLITY: You have given a great deal of thought to not just the idea itself but how to make it work from a financial perspective in the present and future - 55.6%

Other option - 0%

8. FEEDBACK: What are some areas for improvement for this project?

CONNECTION: Why you care about the environment/ climate was unclear – It would be great to elaborate on what this solution means to you, personally and how it affects you and/or your community. - 40%

CREATIVITY: Be more specific in your description of the research you have done into the past solutions to this problem and focus on how your solution is unique and innovative - 60%

COMMITMENT: Your plan for growing the organization can benefit from more specifics. How can you round out the various skills of your current leadership team to make the project a long-term success? - 0%

CHANGEMAKER QUALITY: Try to provide more insights into how you are activating changemakers and empowering them to innovate through your product or programming. How will they care about environment/climate if they currently do not? Think about how to create value for all stakeholders, not just immediate beneficiaries - 40%

IMPACT MEASUREMENT: Provide specific instances of your social impact and how you plan to measure impact – it may be helpful to describe the beneficiaries, products and programming, and provide evidence of (or plan for) how to measure impact - 80%

VIABILITY: Make sure you have provided descriptive information about your financial sustainability plan. Where do the funds come from now and do you have a concrete plan for future sustainability? - 80%

Nothing – I thought everything was great! - 100%

Other option - 0%

7 comments

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Spam
Photo of Carson McBain
Team

I'm very impressed by how you've applied your programming knowledge to make your website from scratch! I would not have a clue how to build a website so this is a huge accomplishment. I can tell that you did a lot of research to check what was already out there, and this seems like a creative reimagining of social media for good. I also appreciate the "guest" view so I could test out the site. One question for your team to explore as you develop this further is, how will you sustain users' engagement in the platform after they had committed to changing a habit? I am a huge environmentalist myself so I loved your platform and the habit-setting approach - since making big changes in your life can be difficult if you don't approach it step by step, gradually building on habits. For the goal of "buy metal straws," as a metal straw owner myself I find that the biggest challenge for me (pre-COVID days lol) is remembering to carry them with me when I go out, and to tell waitstaff "no straw please." I even bought a special one for Boba tea, but I often forget to take it with me. Is there a way you could develop a more nuanced, measurable goal-setting for that one, like 'snap a photo every time you declined a plastic straw' and keep track of how many one-use products had been avoided? I think something like that could be really powerful. It could be cool to have videos or livestream educational events too. I'm so inspired by your work, and hope you can network with lots of other environmental changemakers in the challenge! Keep up the great work.

Spam
Photo of Sirihaasa N
Team

Thank you so much for your comment!
I LOVE your idea of implementing educational videos and live stream events on the app. It would definitely be a useful tool in educating users about environmentalism.
In pertains to sustaining user's engagement on the platform-I love the idea of snapping a picture every time you accomplish an aspect of your goal, or even notifications to nudge/remind the user about their goal.
I was thinking it could be something similar to Snapchat-You start a streak with your goal, and you keep snapping pictures of you actually achieving your goal. And the longer amount of days you implement or achieve your goal the longer your 'streak' is.
It would also be cool to detect the location of the user-only if they allowed- and send them a notification reminder every time they are in a specific location to complete their goal.
Ex: If their goal is to use metal straws, every time they are in a restaurant we would send them a notification to use their metal straw. If their goal was to bike to school and avoid car emissions, we would send them a notification every time they were on the move or at specific times during the day.
Sadie and I are thinking of creating a companion app to the website once we get all the features finalized and functioning. This way the overall solution can be more effective and accessible.

Thank you again, and Sadie and I appreciate the feedback. We can't wait to start improving our website!

Spam
Photo of Carson McBain
Team

I love the companion app idea! I'm currently doing a virtual exercise 'challenge' where I have to snap a photo or post every mini-milestone to my goal, and it's very motivating! The notifications idea is great too - I would use that! Good luck to you both :)

Spam
Photo of Sirihaasa N
Team

Thank you so much!

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