Silicon Valley Startup Rewards Personal Climate Action By Linking Spending Decisions and Greenhouse Gases
Team from Stanford, MIT and UC Berkeley tackles climate change and extreme weather by tracking the impacts from each dollar you spend
Hurricane Sandy has thrust climate change back into the spotlight, and 72 percent of Americans now believe that extreme weather events like storms, floods, droughts and wildfires are made worse by global warming. Obama’s response to the disaster and commitment to tackling climate granted a last-minute endorsement from the Mayor of New York’s Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, potentially an influential factor for 64 percent of U.S. voters.
Although 65 percent of Americans now consider climate change a “serious” problem, and a recent government study projected 100 million dead from climate change by 2030, the U.S. Congress remains mired in political inaction. Many frustrated Americans would like to take climate action into their own hands, but it’s hard to know where to start. Enter Oroeco.com.
“The basic idea is that every dollar we spend on products or services impacts the environment and society for better or for worse,” says Oroeco’s CEO, Ian Monroe, who also teaches courses on climate change and renewable energy at Stanford University. “The problem is that these impacts aren’t apparent when we’re deciding what to buy, particularly now that global supply chains have shifted problems half a world away. We are building a tool that automatically connects purchase data from debit and credit cards (via Mint.com) to scientific climate impact data – so you can track the climate footprint of your groceries, gas, airfare, home energy, clothing, etc. You can also see how you compare to your friends and earn points and prizes.”
“The overall goal is to re-incentivize the global economy by automatically tracking how our personal values connect to our everyday spending and investment decisions,” says Monroe. “It’s all about aligning information with incentives, and social games are a powerful tool. We’re starting with climate, then we’ll be adding a wide range of other environmental, societal, and personal health impact indicators, as well as enhancing our gaming and rewards interface.”
“What’s great is that many actions that improve climate also save a lot of money, and these actions often also have other health and societal benefits. For example, eating red meat one day less per week improves your personal climate footprint more than eating all local or driving a Prius; less red meat also saves cash, reduces your likelihood of getting heart disease and many cancers, and reduces impacts on land, water, and biodiversity.”
“Stabilizing global climate is a daunting task, but we collectively have the power to do it – particularly since the problem is largely caused by companies that make goods and services we all pay for. So once we start shifting our spending and investing habits towards more sustainable options, and encouraging our social networks to do the same, companies will be quick to follow.”
Oroeco is currently running an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to raise capital and attract users to their first mobile app: indiegogo.com/oroeco
Oroeco.com is the first online platform that automatically tracks environmental impacts of purchases and investments. Oroeco counts leaders in academia, technology and industry amongst its advisors, and the core Oroeco team consists of a crew of scientists, engineers, sustainability junkies, and startup vets from Stanford, MIT, Harvard and UC Berkeley.