New social networking site helps users make more sustainable decisions
The number of opportunities to make “clean, green and well” decisions continues to grow rapidly. In the last decade alone, more than 460 “eco-labeling” schemes have emerged, providing a vast amount of information on consumer products and services. But paying attention to detail reveals a web of complex, sometimes conflicting information that can be hard to decipher and even harder to put to everyday use.
Enter Andrew Krause, a recent graduate of ASU’s School of Sustainability (SoS) master’s program who has been working on simplifying, as well as customizing the concept of sustainability to suit everyone’s needs. Krause, along with his mentor and senior scientist at ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability George Basile and two former classmates, has launched the action-oriented online social platform eEcosphere.
Krause, a native of Sonoma, Calif., joined SoS because its unique approach integrates the new field of sustainability science with behavior change – two vital elements when it comes to budging the needle on sustainability and key principles that ultimately inspired the creation of eEcosphere.
He says the social web platform is underpinned by years of scientific research, conducted by Basile and other scientists, which focuses on sustainability planning and tools that help individuals and businesses take action across the globe. He hopes the website will help people adopt a more eco-conscious lifestyle by making it fun, easy and effective.
“Everyday, a person makes a variety of decisions, driven by default, often outdated habits,” Krause says. “Take, for example, the way we choose to do laundry. There are a number of emerging opportunities to be smarter – like using less water and a non-toxic detergent during the process – but changing habits may be hard.”
According to Krause, who has led various sustainability-related ventures in the past, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to making the world a better place.
“A person may already be saving energy but might need help with water conservation; someone else might need help with both,” Krause elaborates. “eEcosphere helps people identify and adopt ideas that match their personal sustainability goals. It embeds a scientific approach in the decision-making process and encourages people to take action as a group using the social web.”
In 2011, ASU’s Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative awarded Krause and his team $18,000 to develop the eEcosphere venture. The award enabled the start-up to incorporate as a legal business and reach key fundraising milestones. Krause assumed the leadership role and spent early days hiring software developers and copywriters, and networking with sustainability experts.
“The Edson grant helped our vision come to life faster,” Krause says. “We’ve built eEcosphere multiple times to make it more compelling to individuals and clients who’ll ultimately use our product.”
Krause and Basile are now putting the online platform through the ultimate user test: the ASU community. eEcosphere is playing a key role in ASU’s various sustainability campaigns, including the Zero-Waste Initiative. A preview of the website has been unveiled this week in hopes of collaborating with nearly 82,000 members of the Sun Devil family to help the university meet its goal of becoming a zero-waste campus by 2015.
“Modifying waste management habits at such a huge scale requires collective action on the part of students, faculty and staff,” says Krause. “eEcosphere will engage with the university community, collect and analyze detailed insight regarding user preferences, and provide new updates and incentives to help people stay motivated and informed."
Krause says ASU is the perfect live laboratory for eEcosphere.
“This institution is leading sustainability efforts internationally,” Krause explains. “If we can facilitate good ideas at ASU, we can help other large-scale enterprises do the same with their customers as well.”
Basile adds to that thought.
“The ASU platform has been vital to the evolution of eEcosphere,” Basile says. “The institution has helped us incubate forward-thinking ideas, and permitted us to take risks and embark on adventures.”
Krause credits Basile, an internationally recognized sustainability veteran himself, for much of his drive and success as a student entrepreneur. Basile, in return, has nothing but high praise for his pupil.
“At 26, Andrew has already proven his ability to help innovative new ventures get off the ground,” Basile says with pride in his voice. “He has also passed along business finance, internship and job opportunities to fellow students. I’ve waited for a generation of students who’d align themselves with the concept of sustainability and find ways to take action. Andrew represents that generation. He is an informed, driven millenial.”
Krause says the time has come for a concept such as eEcosphere to be successful in the marketplace of ideas.
When asked what the future looks like to him, he asks:
“Is it cliché to say, ‘bright?’”
Join the live preview of eEcosphere by becoming an early user at www.eEcosphere.com