You can sit here and read or you can just play the game now 😉 Join us at environfriend.com
There’s no question that people working in the tech sector are some of the brightest minds around. Some of us enjoy our rat race so much that we forget to look at the world around us.
When we do get a chance to take our eyes away from our dual monitors, the truth is evident.
Everyday there is more and more research which determines global temperatures are rising. Research which argues that if we don’t change our habits in the next 30 years, the human race will perish. We will perish in fires. We will die of starvation. We will die in floods, tsunamis, hurricanes, and the weather we deem extreme now, will become the new normal.
Technology may seem far removed from the environment. However, when we look at the figures we will find that it is our beloved industry which robs us of our hopes, dreams, aims - our futures. Carbon emissions are one of the leading causes of global warming. Did you know that 3.6% of the world’s carbon emissions derive from the tech sector? That number could rise to 14% by 2030.
Environfriend won’t let that happen.
Environfriend is a fully functional desktop app. At its core, the app is a blog. All the advice in blog posts is sourced from interviews with leaders in their field.
What sets Environfriend apart from other reading platforms, is that when you read, you’re actively fixing a microcosm of planet Earth.
On sign up, you receive a digital microcosm of our earth with a range of environmental issues, including a forest fire, flooding river and exploding volcano. You will be guided through your microcosm by Saam, a friendly tiger. What’s special about Saam, is that you can send him out into your microcosm to fix environmental issues! Your mission is to earn Environcoins by reading and completing goals which will help you cut your carbon emissions in the real world. Next, you can exchange Environcoins for supplies which will help Saam fix the issues in your microcosm.
You can view the research wiki and much more on Environfriend's Notion page
The design and build of Environfriend was no easy task - but it was nothing compared to the research needed to write the blog posts.
The main point of this platform is to educate, which means there was no room for error. I spent months researching how to reduce the footprint of the tech industry, wrote a related dissertation and spoke to anyone who would listen about their ideas. Although right now few companies focus on reducing their carbon emissions, performance has been a hot topic for years. Luckily, the two can go hand in hand when executed with enough dexterity. This served as a nice conversation opener with the extraordinarily talented people I interviewed.
Since Environfriend is extremely visual, I put a lot of effort into illustrations. After experimenting with various styles, I decided to go with 8bit. I thought this would be a nice nod to the types of games many developers would have played and even developed in their childhood.
The app was designed in Figma, with reference to software used within the tech industry i.e. Github. This would make Environfriend feel like an extension of our workflows rather than a separate entity.
Throughout the process, I focused very heavily on behaviour change design, referencing Amy Bocher’s book, “Engaged: Designing for Behavior Change”. Amy talks about “Zombie, Run!”, a fitness app which encourages the runner by imitating a zombie apocalypse, turning a mundane task into a fun game. It is for this reason that I decided to implement a gamification feature.
To begin the build, I used HTML & CSS to develop a static site prototype of the blog. This is where I presented the findings of my dissertation. I noticed some usability issues so I redesigned some features before moving on to [Bubble.io](http://bubble.io/). Bubble is a nocode tool with a drag and drop interface builder, and a step-by-step dropdown selector for building the backend. This is where I built the Environfriend platform.
To summarise, Environfriend has been an eye opening journey for me. Not only did it allow me to broaden my skill set, it also gave me the opportunity to research global warming and the overwhelming impact we, humans, can have on our planet. It is my mission to spread that information to all corners of the world.
We have a long way to go, so I hope that you will join Environfriend on this journey.