Save the planet? There’s an app for that

Enterprise: Greener

Green Credentials: Greener’s vision has attracted the interest of thought leaders such as Professor Michael Hiscox, head of sustainability behavioural science at Harvard, and leading climate scientists.

At an event in 2018, Tom Ferrier had a lightbulb moment when a fellow attendee told him everyone needed to reduce their carbon footprint down to two tonnes a year to avert the climate-change crisis. “They told me the average Aussie has a footprint of 20 tonnes,” Tom says. “And, while that 18 tonnes is a big gap to bridge, I was so excited to know that there was a target, and that we could actually do something to stop this crisis.”

Within 12 months of this conversation, Tom came together with Neil McVeigh to found Greener, an enterprise whose purpose is to help people repair the planet with every dollar they spend.

“To do this, you simply download the Greener App, and you’ll be asked some simple questions around the food you eat, how you travel, and how you power your home,” Tom explains. “You’ll then get your very own Greener rating out of 10, helping you understand your carbon footprint in simple terms.” The app guides people to brands that benefit the planet, then the stores pay to neutralise the carbon footprint of your purchase at no cost to the user. Not only does a user’s rating improve every time they shop green, but when they don’t, the app will make smart suggestions to help their green rating next time they shop.

“Our recent pilot demonstrated we could bring Greener brands up to 21 per cent of customers from the competition, while helping our users reduce their carbon footprint by 23 per cent,” Tom says. As a result of the pilot, Greener has secured partnerships with more than 50 brands across all sectors of the economy, including Microsoft, Koala, Who Gives a Crap, LEGO, M.J. Bale, Powershop and T2.

Tom and Neil worked with UNSW Business School and the Centre for Social Impact to define their environmental impact strategy prior to launch, ensuring sustainability was woven into Greener’s DNA.

One of the first members to join the team, Parrys Raines, came in to lead the Beyond Sustainability stream. “We call it that because we don’t feel being sustainable goes far enough – we need to push ourselves beyond that. Parrys has been speaking about climate change at the UN since the age of 13, and brings a positive and solutions-focused message of hope, not fear.”

Greener is working hard to become a B Corp and is close to achieving that certification. It has also joined the ‘1% for the Planet’ movement, an initiative whose members pledge to give one per cent all their equity, revenue, product, and talent to the planet. “This ensures the duty of any current or future company director goes beyond maximising profits, with all decisions also focusing on maximising returns for the planet, employees, suppliers, and communities,” Tom explains.

Alongside the many brands signing up to be part of the ‘Greener economy’, consumers are also backing the vision. A recent pilot with Bupa demonstrated that using the Greener app could help their customers reduce their carbon emissions by 23 per cent. “This means that if we could get Greener into the hands of all their customers, we could take the equivalent of six million cars off the road in emissions each year,” Tom enthuses.

Planning to launch publicly in 2022, Greener has a roadmap with features aimed at unlocking the scale of the 45–65 per cent of ‘middle green’ mainstream consumers. “And, while we’re starting here in Australia, we have global ambition,” Tom says. “Entire economies and trillions of dollars are shifting carbon neutral in a short period of time, and Greener is helping bring brands and consumers together to fast-track this movement.”

This article first appeared in issue 35 of the Inside Small Business quarterly magazine