CoGo, the Sustainability App Making Ethical Life Easy

At A Glance – Accelerating Your Climate Commitments

You can’t change what you can’t measure and to contribute to carbon neutrality, every penny count. Quit competing with your friends on the Nike running app and start downloading CoGo! Purchasing with purpose and ‘conscious’ consumption is a powerful tool to live more sustainably to protect the planet and its people.

In 2020, there really is an app for everything but CoGo is the first platform that enables its users to calculate their carbon footprint in real time through open banking data integrations.

Founded by Ben Gleisner, who has previously served as Senior Economist to the New Zealand Treasury, the goal for CoGo is to become a life essential. It aims to do this by packaging the entire spectrum of eco-friendly living into one place, by making complex issues tangible and digestible.

The Real-Time Carbon Footprint Tracker aims to empower citizens to put their money where their hearts are, identify where they can reduce their climate impact and join a community dedicated to carbon neutrality.

Increasingly, millennials and younger generations wish to align their spending with their values.

Did you know that:

  • Close to $113 billion was spent in 2018 on ethical products, an increase from 2013, with a market demand growing 5.6 times faster than non-ethical products (New York University).
  • An estimated €966 billion per annum market opportunity exists for brands that make their sustainability credentials clear (Unilever) 

This spotlight feature explores the intricacies of CoGo’s tracker, how it partners with businesses to promote sustainability practices and advises us through data insights on where we can cut the carbon.

In Focus – A Calculator for the Carbon Conscious

How It Works

CoGo is disrupting our decision-making processes for daily spending by calculating your carbon footprint.

Your carbon footprint is measured in kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent and signifies a relative estimate on your personal contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the average monthly carbon footprint of a UK citizen is approximately 1,000 kilograms. However, studies conducted by scientists have recommended to reach a 1.5 degree pathway, we should be creating no more than 180 kilograms a month.

CoGo’s service is free, to get started, connect your bank, set your goals and discover businesses that match your ethics.  

Credit: CoGo

The sign-up process is smooth, I set my values to include carbon conscious, carbon neutral, sustainably sources, organic and reduces waste. You are also able to view what percentage these values matter to other members of the CoGo Community!

Once you have securely connected your preferred account into the app, the tracker is able to instantly display a 12-month carbon footprint history using transactional data as its source. Side note – for most users this will be most in comparison to  a traditional coronavirus free year where we may actually be able to leave the country and fly, splurge on restaurants etc!

The CoGo Tracker

By analysing your banking data, CoGo matches each transaction to a specific industry, be that fashion, insurance or groceries. It multiplies each individual spend to an emissions factor for that industry to gage the approximate carbon footprint. For example, £1 spent at a UK fashion retailer creates one kilogram of carbon dioxide emissions.  However, I would argue this is a very modest figure if you take into account the true life cycle impact and energy intensive processes used to create a single garment.

Needless to say, emissions factors for certain sectors are lower than others, take for example renewable energy providers or second hand clothing shops. Within the category of groceries and food spending, this also incorporates dietary preferences, as we know limited red meat consumption enables you to curtail your footprint. Being able to tangibly distinguish the impact of an alteration in diet on your carbon footprint is a powerful instrument to shift peoples mindsets.

CoGo’s pioneering data science team includes climate expert Professor Mike Berners-Lee, a leader in carbon footprinting at Lancaster University. His work with the Real-Time Carbon Footprint Tracker is the first time he’s helped to devise a consumer-facing product. He noted “The use of Open Banking data is a big step forward, and I have every hope that the CoGo app will work in supporting individuals to measure and reduce their footprint.”

A feature I particularly enjoy are the suggestions it provides on ways to take action and mitigate environmental impacts through simple lifestyle changes that can subsequently reduce your score. It’s almost a gamification of being more sustainably sound!

Rhetoric on the app is encouraging and CoGo awards positive actions taken in your spending too. For example, by choosing to spend £50 at a second-hand clothing store compared to the same spend at a new fashion retailer, a user can save approximately 40 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent.

In my mind, measuring tangible behaviour changes in this manner will revolutionise how many citizens use their disposable income.

Credit: CoGo

The Focus on Better Business

What makes CoGo unique is its collaboration with over 20,000 businesses that are internationally recognised for their sustainability practices.

These accreditations have formed the guiding principles for CoGo’s users, they include:

  • Carbon Conscious
  • Carbon Neutral
  • Co-operative
  • Cruelty-free
  • Fair Trade
  • Living Wage
  • Organic
  • Reduce Waste
  • Social Enterprise
  • Supporting Charities
  • Sustainably Sourced
  • Vegan

It is also worth noting that CoGo is a registered B Corporation. For those of you less familiar with this status, the B Corp movement is a call for legislation change and encourages a focus on social and environmental impacts of businesses.

Taking pride in supporting local producers, artisans and responsible companies is intrinsically linked to supporting sustainable development. The app features an impact framework which provides further metrics such as:

  • Every year CoGo UK businesses are diverting 276,753 kilograms of waste from landfill.
  • Every year CoGo UK businesses are stopping 96,000 kilograms of CO2-e from entering the atmosphere.
  • Every year CoGo UK businesses are donating £226,662 to help social and environmental charities.

Final Thoughts – My App Of The Year

CoGo should be your download of the year and provides a seamless solution to quantifying our true environmental impact. The platform’s power lies in its ability to identify where we can make individual lifestyle changes to help protect eco systems and support responsible businesses.

With such accurate measurements through its banking integration system, CoGo will reduce the seismic intention action gap between those that SAY they want to shop more ethically and those that put their money where their mouth is.

It doesn’t take a genius to recognise how second hand shopping, mindful waste management, sustainably sourced ingredients and public transport can spur your contribution to helping the UK hit carbon neutrality. It is, however, prolifically empowering to measure this in real time to match your spending with planetary consequences and connecting the power of values within the CoGo community to champion change.

I will be using this throughout July and will look forward to seeing how it informs my purchasing decision making! DOWNLOAD COGO here.

For more on technology, take a look at the latest on digitalisation of the fashion industry and blockchain to power sustainability.

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