Using Your Smartphone to Reduce the Carbon Footprint of Your Shopping Basket

We put eco labels on kitchen appliances, cars and cosmetics - so why not food? Evocco is an app that wants to make it easier than ever for you to shop sustainably.

Autor*in Ana Galán Herranz, 10.22.18

We put eco labels on kitchen appliances, cars and cosmetics – so why not food? Evocco is an app that wants to make it easier than ever for you to shop sustainably.

Agriculture is responsible for approximately 13 per cent of total global emissions. That makes it the world’s second-largest emitter, after the energy sector (which includes all emissions from power generation and transportation). Over the past few years, consumers have become increasingly interested not just in finding out exactly where their food comes from and how it was produced – but also how they can make genuinely sustainable choices when it comes to food products. Evocco, a digital eco-friendly shopping assistant developed in Ireland, wants to help.

Inspired by a belief in the power of the individual and “the need to engage the public to force meaningful change from governments and corporations,” Evocco was founded in 2017 by Irish mechanical engineer Hugh Weldon and his university friend Ahmada Mu’azzam. They had set about tackling an incredibly ambitious task – how to come up with a convenient, user-friendly and effective way of informing people about everyday sustainable choices, and then… getting them to completely change the way they live their lives? In order to make their task more manageable, they decided to start focusing on food first of all. “Food is also a good place to start as we interact with it multiple times a day, everyday,” Hugh told RESET.

What is Evocco and How Does it Work?

Evocco is an app that functions as a digital shopping assistant, making it easy for consumers to buy more eco-friendly food products – food that is both nutritional and has low carbon impact.

After each food purchase, you can use the app to scan your receipt and calculate the real ecological footprint of your shopping trip. The data behind the app comes from lifecycle assessment data scientists Quantis, and food sustainability experts Eaternity. The sustainability of each food product is calculated based on a whole range of different factors, including deforestation, biodiversity loss, water usage and estimated GHG emissions, as well as how the food ranks against global burden of disease data.

Scanning receipts regularly will help you build a personal carbon footprint profile over time and track your habits, while the app provides tips and tricks which help to educate consumers in order to close the gap between their ecological intentions and what they actually ended up buying. “We’ve gotten some very positive feedback from both consumers and the food industry. We’ve had many frustrated consumers reach out to us and say that they want to reduce their environmental impact but don’t know where to start and are searching for help,” says Hugh.

The app is designed with nudge psychology and progressive learning techniques in mind, and the team has worked together with the institute of Behavioural Economics at the University of Bern to figure out the biggest factors that come into play when it comes to influencing human behaviour. One strategy is gamification, with shoppers able to track their progress against their peers. “The app also gives you personalised tips for better products, lets you track your progress over time and compete against friends and family,” explains Hugh.

The team expects to launch the app next year in Ireland, the UK and the Netherlands. They are currently testing the app, at beta stage, in Ireland while gathering the funding needed to help them launch.  A couple of weeks ago, the founder Hugh became one of the seven young people to be awarded the UN Young Champions of the Earth Prize, receiving 15,000 USD in seed funding as well as mentorship and technical support to develop the project.

You can track their progress on the official Evocco website and sign up here for updates and to become a tester.

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