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Zürich, SwitzerlandSwitzerland
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
Project Stage:
$250,000 - $500,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

All of us can change our lives for the better. But how?
We inspire people to embrace more sustainable behavior by organizing team competitions on our online platform, combining elements of game design with social group dynamics. We empower youth and engage employees of companies to take action.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

everyone were to change their behavior in order to decrease their ecological footprint, while increasing both personal and common well-being?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The lifestyle in developed countries exceeds the planet's ecological capacity by a factor of two. Options to reduce an individual’s impact are available, but few change their behavior; people tend to be too unaware or unmotivated to take action. Meanwhile, programs that allow people to experience sustainability in a rewarding way are missing, and companies lack practical tools to engage their employees in sustainability.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

weACT organizes team competitions that inspire people to embrace more sustainable lifestyles. Our programs teach sustainability through learning-by-doing and help companies to engage their employees on the topic. After forming a small team on our online platform, you experiment over the course of 3 weeks with new ways to shape your everyday life. You gain points not only for doing things like cycling to work, saving electricity or showering faster, but also for group activities like having a vegetarian lunch or exercising with teammates. You receive positive feedback online and can compare yourself with other teams. At the end we celebrate the achievements of all participants as well as their newfound realization that each action matter.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Some of the best stories of the participants of our team competitions: A group of 6 physics students eat vegetarian for three weeks in order to beat their friends from the math department. At a company a team walked up 12 floors of stairs for two weeks to get the "no elevator challenge" points In interviews and questionnaires, people said the following about the weACT Challenge: I realized that I changed my behavior in different ways, and I started to pay more attention. A great group dynamic developed during the competition. We saw that small actions can already contribute to sustainability. It is important and fun. It makes you give the best of your self. We really lived it! Check: http://bit.ly/HsFmDR

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

So far 1,500 people have participated in weACT’s 3 week team competitions. The participants performed a total of 160,000 sustainable actions. At an average savings of 15 kg CO2 per person, we estimate that the competitions so far have led to the avoidance of 22,500 kg CO2 emissions, the amount absorbed by a forest of 1,800 trees in one year. 97% of participants would encourage a friend to participate, and 72% said that they became more environmentally aware and learned new, healthier ways of doing things. Our impact evaluation is based on questionnaires filled out before and after the competitions, data gathered on our platform and our CO2 calculator. We cooperate with research institutes (TU Delft) for third-party evaluation. In the next 3 years we aim to reach 100,000 people, empowering them to take action to improve their well-being and decrease their environmental footprint.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

weACT has two different income streams depending on the target group. weACT Inc. sells digital employee engagement programs based on our team competitions to companies as CSR and HR solutions for developing and integrating a culture of sustainability. The weACT Foundation’s business model consists of developing project-specific partnerships in which a sponsor or a foundation supports the organization of educational programs for youth.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

weACT offers a digital employee engagement program on sustainability. There are other providers of employee engagement programs, some also using online platforms to reach employees (go21go). Among those using team competitions to engage employees, the focus is mainly on health (Fitbit) or only on one topic of sustainability (Bike to work). Other providers offer programs on sustainability at home (CO2-monitor) or are active in other continents (Practically Green). Swiss education programs on sustainability do not use the learning-by-doing approach nor are they based on team competitions.

Founding Story

The core idea of weACT developed at a student workshop at ETH Zürich University in November 2010. While many technical solutions aimed at reducing CO2 emissions on the campus were presented, two students asked: "Why do we need to have more technology? We already know what we could do to reduce CO2 emissions on the campus. We just need to motivate people to do things they know about!" At that workshop Majka Baur and Prisca Müller met each other and initiated weACT. They realized that in order to engage people they needed to do something fun and something people could do together in order to support and motivate each other. On this basis they started organizing team competitions about sustainable lifestyles.