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Product, Service & Design Innovation
New Mobile App Encourages Fitness, Rewards You for Reducing Your CO2 Emissions

Looking for something to hold you accountable on your New Year’s resolution to be more active? Changers — a German startup whose mission is to motivate behavior change by making sustainable actions measurable — has launched CO2 Fit, a new mobile app that measures the CO2 generated during various types of travel and rewards more active and lower-emitting options with Recoins, the world's first ‘green’ currency based on CO2 savings.

Now available for Apple iPhone and Android smartphones, CO2 Fit calculates the net CO2 effect of cycling, taking a bus or train, or driving a car, and rewards users with a Recoin unit for every kilogram of CO2 they save.

"Our idea is simple: Motivate people to select more sustainable transportation options by helping them understand and quantify their overall carbon footprint," said Changes co-founder Markus Schulz. "Just start the app before each trip by bike, public transport or car, and see the CO2 impact of that trip. By commuting to work by bike, you can earn Recoins that offset the CO2 impact of your trips by car or plane."

When you save CO2 by biking or using public transportation, you are rewarded with Recoins — the Changers digital currency. Recoins are calculated based on the type of transportation you use. You earn a Recoin for every 1 kilometer on a bike, 5 kilometers on a bus, and 20 kilometers on a train.

If you emit CO2 (by driving your car, for example), those emissions are also calculated; you can offset your negative CO2 balance by using the Recoins you earned by biking and using public transit. To make it fun, users can earn awards and badges, and can compete with other users, locally and globally.

Recoins: carbon offsets for consumers

Each of us constantly emits CO2, not just when we travel but even when we drink a coffee or buy a pair of jeans. CO2 Fit encourage people to offset their overall CO2 impact by allowing them to purchase Gold Standard climate certificates through Changers. Whenever you earn at least 50 Recoins by traveling by bike, bus or train, you can purchase a climate certificate from within the Changers app, which represents a savings of 25 kilograms of CO2. Now you can live towards being CO2-free and promote the worldwide use of renewable energies.

"We want everyone to participate in CO2 emissions-trading by using the Recoins they've earned through conscious behavior change to acquire shares in CO2 Certificates," said Changers co-founder Daniela Schiffer. "It's fun, makes you feel good, and enables you to become aware of the impact of your own behavior."

Fostering more conscious consumer behavior is the holy grail for many organizations invested in sustainability, and gamification and competition are common approaches. Coca-Cola, for example, has teamed up with everyone from OpenIDEO to Nestle and Tesco — and even created its own ‘Happiness Arcade’ — in a bid to improve consumer recycling habits. Meanwhile, platforms such as greenApes encourage all-around sustainable behaviors by allowing users to share and be rewarded for more conscious actions that would otherwise pass unnoticed. Individuals and organizations earn points for purchasing an eco-branded product, using more efficient appliances, eating local and organic food, etc and for inspiring peers by sharing these actions via the sustainable networking platform. The common currency (called "nuts") allows users to build an online "sustainable profile" so they can share their conscious lifestyle choices with the world. These aggregated actions are then displayed on the greenApes website and Facebook app.

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