Most of us are probably sad about the bad things we are doing to the environment, even here in New Zealand and in Wellington. But when we hear about these big tough issues, we get a bit paralysed and don’t know what we can do about them. We also wonder if it's worth investing our time and money into trying to fix things.

Our team wanted to bridge the gap between "the things I do" (X) and "what happens to Wellington's natural environment" (Y). We took three activities (waste disposal, transport, and heating) and used published government data (usually in the form of spreadsheets and written reports) to calculate (and at times, guesstimate) the rules that govern how a change in X would lead to a change in Y.

It's simple, just think "X causes Y"

We packaged this up into a really nifty web app, which asks Wellingtonians to quickly enter in what they do now, and then what they think they could do. Then,

  • we show them how much more (or less!) money they would spend or save on this change;
  • how much more or less time it would take
  • and how this change would impact Wellington's environment - both as kilograms of waste sent annually to landfill, and as kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions.

We put this in context with a map of Wellington, with informative popup icons that you 'unlock' when you reach certain targets (e.g. save a certain amount of money or time, or significantly reduce your carbon emissions).

We call it... EcoCalc! We believe it is a powerful demonstration of how helping the environment can leave you better off financially, take very little time, and have a big impact on your local environment. It's not pie-in-the-sky do-gooder stuff, it just makes sense.

Future ideas:

  • Conduct user experience testing and improve any unintuitive measurements or interactions.

  • Improve data quality and transparency - more accurately estimate the time statistics and extend the "What does this mean?" popup to clearly state where our numbers come from.

  • Include more interactive data on the map (Environmental groups from the Charities Commission, community groups with a Facebook page, groups from WCC’s environmental/conservation page, suggested events from Eventfinda, etc)

  • Add more "habits" for you to compare

Team name
State, Territory or Country
Event location
Datasets used
Project image
Video URL (YouTube/Vimeo)