BIKE_KATIESUNSET

Life is like a bicycle.

To keep your balance, you must keep moving.

-Albert Einstein 

An evening bike ride while the sun sets behind the palms.

Ah…bliss.

Not only are scenes like this idyllic and romantic they are far better for your body, mind, and the planet than an afternoon drive.

My love for sustainable transport is strong (perhaps to the point of being pigheaded) and where I can I usually walk, bike, skate, or catch public transport. My car is saved solely for drives to the markets so I can get packaging free produce, and for taking my pooch on journeys because unfortunately not many places are dog-off-leash friendly in this area so you usually have to drive between them.

When the makers of Changers App got in touch with me I was delighted to discover a fun way to make sustainable transport options measurable. By installing the app on your portable device you can measure the distances you travel on your daily commute and the app compares your mode of travels CO2 impact to that of a car and calculates the approximate CO2 savings.

Choosing to commute by bike, public transport or long distance train allows you earn renewable energy coins called ‘Recoins’ for your journey (I have contacted Changers and a walking option is coming soon). If you drive or fly you cannot earn any Recoins as these are CO2 intensive modes of transport. Recoins can be redeemed for CO2 compensation at the CO2 app store. The Recoins are a patented solar energy currency that is produced in Ethiopia, Kenya and Botswana. Where solar powered shops replace traditional diesel and kerosene lamp run stores. These stores offer much needed provisions of tools, food and medicine to rural populations Changers measure the amount of solar energy generated by each kiosk, and for every kilowatt hour, they compensate the operators to help fund the shops.

In addition to gaining Recoins for sustainable modes of transport, Changers also offers the opportunity to gain credit for producing your own solar energy. Their online store sells portable solar power devices that are connected to a social network on the internet. Every watt hour that you use your solar power recharger will mean one Recoin in the Changers bank for you. Collecting Recoins for good eco behaviour will allow you to offset your carbon emissions in other parts of your life, like buying a new pair of jeans.

Your personal results are tallied and fed through the Changers social network and you can see how your efforts compare with the rest of the world. The best part about this whole project is that you can feel good about your personal efforts, live a CO2 friendly lifestyle, and it doesn’t cost a cent to be involved (unless you are buying a solar panel).

The only downside to the app so far is remembering to switch it on before you leave. After one week of playing with it there have been multiple occasions I think I have switched it on, only to arrive at my destination ready to check my Recoin score, and realise I forgot to press play. Another issue it the amount of battery power the app uses on your phone, something that could easily be fixed by purchasing a solar panel and battery at the Changers store.

My week’s commute has been surprisingly carbon friendly and as of this morning I am sitting at number 112 on the leaderboard. My weekly drive to pick up produce at the farmers market saw me plummet down the board to the 1000’s rankings, but cycling to work, yoga, and the bulk foods store gave me plenty of CO2 saving street cred and I have already had the opportunity of offset 50 kg of carbon emissions which, from memory, was equal to around 38 hours of vacuuming.

Look forward to some friendly competition with you as we all creep our way up the Changers leaderboard.

Have you used the app before? Would love to hear about your experiences.