“Through the Climars app, we want to use so-called challenges to encourage people to make more sustainable choices,” says Bojana Zoranovic, co-founder of Climars. When downloading the app, the user gets a number of multiple-choice questions about e.g. eating habits, transportation choices, and shopping behavior. Based on these, the app calculates how many planets that person would need to maintain their personal lifestyle. “That’s the starting point for the challenges that help change habits step by step,” Zoranovic explains. Each user starts off with a general challenge that covers a variety of topics. After that, a person can choose what they want to try out.
The themes range from cutting down on waste to not eating meat to not buying environmentally unfriendly clothing. “The app aims to help people on their way who do want to live more sustainably,” says Zoranovic. “People often don’t know where to start. Or they find it difficult to maintain a new lifestyle. Besides that, people are also sometimes skeptical about the impact they can make on the environmental issues that we are now facing, either as individuals or as part of a family.”
Zoranovic took this all into account during the development of the app. “By calculating your own ecological footprint, you immediately see what you as an individual actually contribute. At the end of a challenge, people will see the impact they have made in those three weeks. Not only do we show the reductions in CO2 emissions, but we also make that tangible. For one thing, after doing the waste challenge, you’ll see how many turtles you have managed to save because you didn’t dump plastic in the ocean.”
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In addition, the participants also receive a reward for a certain number of points. “For instance, after completing the challenge to eat vegan, players can pick up a tasty vegan pastry from a local baker,” she adds. “This is how we motivate users and involve local, sustainable entrepreneurs in this concept.”
We hope that the challenges will help people to change their habits step by step. What’s more, we make it fun and playful this way,” she continues. The choice for 21-day challenges is scientifically based. “Research has shown that that’s long enough to effectively get used to certain behaviors. But on the other hand, it’s also short enough to keep these up as well. A reward helps people get more enjoyment and satisfaction out of their results. This way, they also get to know new people and local businesses.”
Back to nature
In the meantime, the team behind Climars nowadays makes up four people. “It all started with a long trip that Michael and I made through New Zealand,” says Zoranovic. “We spent a lot of time in nature reserves far away from any cities. As a result, we became more and more connected to nature. We saw how great an impact people have on nature there, even when there are no other big cities close by.” That made them think. “We began to make small adjustments in our lifestyle because of that insight. For instance, we’ve started eating vegetarian and we’re trying to scale down our waste stream.”
Through the app, they hope to pass on these insights to other people as well. Climars is to be launched on the grounds of the Erasmus University in Rotterdam this autumn. “This is a kind of pilot project where we also want to collect reactions from users, for one thing,” declares Zoranovic. Then they plan to launch the app on the campus of the Technical University of Eindhoven. “Of course, ultimately the aim is that everyone in the Netherlands can use it.”
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