For the last 6 months, we have been running big and small pilots in Auroville, a community of 2900 residents in Tamil Nadu, India with support from the local partners. We are learning from the successes and failures of our pilots and have done multiple iterations in a short period of time. We have started by focusing on the environmental impact of our consumption. Here is a snapshot of our journey:
Analysing consumption pattern of the community (Dec, 2018 onwards)
We collaborated with the local co-operative retail store and analysed the consumption data of last 5 years. This helped us to understand where Auroville stands as a community and what are the easiest ways to lower the environmental impact. We built an online dashboard to share insights with the community.
Creating a personal consumption tracker (Feb, 2019 onwards)
We created an analytics dashboard using which people can track how much of their monthly / annual consumption is locally sourced, organic and plastic-free. The hypothesis was that people will see which products out of their total consumption are harming the environment most and this will push them to make shifts in their lifestyle. We did multiple iterations and personally showed the dashboard to around 75 users and almost everyone of them was shocked to see the impact of their consumption. This resulted in some small changes but we realised that this alone is not enough.
Building a community forum
We wanted to see how people engage with each other to bring changes in their lives. We created a forum where users can post sustainability goals and share with others, ask questions and share their ideas and feedback. On a pilot basis, the forum was open for ~75 users and we closely interacted with them to understand what’s important for them and what are the barriers they face in making lifestyle shifts. We also interacted with multiple farmers and producers to understand the difficulties they face in reaching out to consumers. We came to a conclusion that apart from meaningful information, accessibility of sustainable products is the second major roadblock that needs to be worked upon.
And now we are building a marketplace that will empower users to make an informed choice and will connect them with eco-conscious producers around them.