As today’s world increasingly lives online, one challenge is to capture the spirit of grassroots environmental activism for the next generation. One of those developments is ethical consumerism and the belief that companies cannot continue to prosper at the expense of planet and society.
Today’s innovation post comes from a conversation with Francesco Cara, Founder of the If You Want To web app.
Francesco and his team at ‘If You Want To’ have developed a web app featuring the very best in environmental products and services. They truly believe that they can give environmental concerned, but time-poor consumers the ability to make a difference every time they spend. Activism truly can become everyday life.
Francesco is excited by the huge potential of ‘clean digital’ and for changing consumerism patterns to be leveraged for good. The growth of the internet in the early 90s was a major inspiration and he says that “ by the mid-2000, behaviours that were unthinkable in the early ‘90s, became the norm, and this social and cultural transformation, driven by digital innovation, hasn’t stopped since….As humankind, we have the intelligence and the abilities to change and adapt quickly.”
However, Francesco is also frustrated by the slow pace of change towards tackling climate change. He notes that across the planet, we experience more extreme and frequent climate events, such as droughts and floods, rising seas and massive wildfires. Yet last year alone, we added 86 millions additional combustion engine cars to our already congested roads and cut nearly 30 million hectares of forest. Something needs to change.
Francesco’s answer is the ‘If You Want To’ web app. The web app that puts power back into consumers’ hands by allowing them to make ethical purchases easily and simply. They are trying to kick start a transformation promoting digital innovation for sustainability. They are responding to the changing public perception around climate change; the conversation has (largely) moved on: from “is global warming really happening?” to “how can we respond to the climate crisis?”
“The conversation has (largely) moved on: from “is global warming really happening?” to “how can we respond to the climate crisis?” “
The web app is one response to this question by demonstrating the very effective actions we can take that have an immediate impact on reducing carbon emissions such as car-free living, using green/ renewable energy or consuming an all-plant diet. The app gathers under one roof the many smart innovations to cut carbon emissions in energy generation and transport; cut waste by giving a second life to products and materials via repair, reuse and recycle; protect biodiversity and regenerate soil and forests, and many other forms of collective action. With over 6,000 solutions, the app is possibly the largest directory of products and services that help to live more sustainably. And growing: every week tens of new projects are added to the directory.
Now that they have a better grasp of what is available on the market, they are pushing their role one step further. They see themselves as curators and facilitators connecting the very best green products to consumers. They see themselves as both stewards of the earth and the digital world. To do this they will select the most innovative and effective propositions to create an ‘If You Want To’ collection of selected and recommended products and services. This is to accelerate the change they have already begun; every day tens of people from across the world discover new ways to live green through ‘If You Want To’. Francesco and his team say “We love when our web analytics show a stream of visitors stretching from New Zealand to Hawaii, across China, Europe, North and South America!”
“Now that they have a better grasp of what is available on the market, they are pushing their role one step further….They see themselves as both stewards of the earth and the digital world.”
Mistakenly, Francesco and the team thought the project would take a year to build, yet within weeks they were faced with a flood of over thousand products, and there’s more new innovations and products being created every day! What was initially a problem has now turned into a daily delight. Francesco attributes his motivation to the fact that “every day at least one brilliant project pops up, and this motivates us to write about it and let as many people as possible know about this new possibility to reduce their footprint and contribute to regeneration.”
An interesting paradox emerged through customer feedback and product testing – whilst consumers wanted maximum access to world’s best green products they also wanted to ‘give back’ to their local communities and find the innovative products and services that existed on their doorstep. Therefore, the team ensured all the app’s content was geolocalised and so the app was transformed into a local guide as well. Perfect for the globally conscious citizen who recognises the value and power of local community.
“Perfect for the globally conscious citizen who recognises the value and power of local community.”
Moreover, Franceso sees his app as being a bridge between the digital and ‘real’ world. To be a truly powerful force for good, consumers need to be informed. For example, have a good grasp of the climate crisis and of the solutions at the macro level. Maybe start with Al Gore’s movies An Inconvenient Truth (2006) and An Inconvenient Sequel, or his Ted Talk The case for optimism on climate change (2016)? Or maybe the brilliant movie Demain/Tomorrow- such wonderful storytelling too! There’s no substitute for getting out there and doing something too. Whether your passion is food, cycling, growing vegetables, repairing and reusing, taking part in environmental action- just do it! Francesco’s so passionate about integrating consumerism with an everyday lifestyle change that ‘If You Want To ‘ features web resources and blogs to best support that change.
The importance of knowledge and making discerning choices can’t be overemphasized in face of so-called ‘greenwashing’. In short, the best climate-conscious consumer is always an informed one. Whilst making ethical purchases is getting easier day by day, there is still real choice and responsibility in the hands of the consumer.
And finally, a word from Francesco on how you can join this growing movement:
“If You Want To is an open platform, open to many forms of collaboration. The database is fully searchable through different search and browsing systems. Anyone can contribute a new project, a new project page, a rating or a comment about a specific project. We love when people add a service to the directory that they have read about or are using, add a page about the project they are working on, or leave a comment and a rating about services they have been using. Please do check us out, find the right product for you and leave us a comment!
Find your next green service! : https://iywto.com/