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Be the Forest kickoff

lilgemvincent profile image Gemma Vincent Originally published at pixelhop.io ・5 min read

🌳 An API that plants trees

Today we are excited to kick off the first of our 7 side projects in 28 weeks. We talk about that here:

Be the Forest, an API that plants trees! Inspired by sites like Ecosia (the search engine that plants trees) we thought it would be great to give developers a simple way to build similar experiences and add carbon offsetting to their digital products or services.

  • Got an online store? You could add the option to offset carbon emissions as part of your checkout.
  • Making a game? Plant a real tree for every tree digital someone plants in the game.
  • Teaching your children to save? Hack together a digital money bank that automatically plants a tree for every £1 they save.

Those are just some of the possibilities being able to plant trees using and API would enable and we know there will be many more we haven't thought about!

Sooooo, we have already set up a holding page here, where you can subscribe for more updates. We've even got a little logo already, if you fancy checking it out!

💡 How did the idea come about?

One Friday evening we were sat in the living room after having a couple of wines and watching a documentary about the world and what a mess it's in. With wildfires, global warming, deforestation, and so on and so forth. I just had an overwhelming sense of sadness and anger about what is going on.

We do our fair share for the environment, we've stopped eating meat and dairy, we try not to buy foods in plastic where possible, we shop locally and support our local refill shops like the lovely Harriets of Hove, all important things to us but it just didn't feel like enough.

Feeling helpless but wanting to help we got our flip chart out and started brainstorming ideas. Our imaginations went wild, or more my imagination went wild. Within about 5 minutes I had decided I was going to pack my bags and head over to Australia to help the Fireman to put out the wildfires and save all the animals. Zef bought me back to reality and said that wasn't realistic. He was right, as he so often is!

Back to the drawing board, I suppose. Zef said we should use the skills we have (eg. tech) to come up with something to help, and that's where this idea blossomed from.
We both use the search engine Ecosia where ad revenue from your searches plants trees and we thought wouldn't it be cool if it was easy for people to build similar experiences?!

👩‍🏫 How will it work?

Our initial idea is quite simple and may expand in the future, but for the moment this is roughly how we see it working.

  1. Users. for example online shop keepers, signup up to our API and add billing details.
  2. When they want to plant a tree they use our API and will be billed based on the number of trees they want to plant. For example when a customer purchase they can also have the option to add on planting a tree to offset the impact of delivery.
  3. We pool everyone's contributions into a pot, and at the end of each month, we donate to one of the leading tree-planting charities on behalf of everyone.
  4. We create monthly reports providing full transparency on how the money donated has been spent and distributed.
  5. Users will be able to use the API to see how their contributions have helped and get stats for the estimated number of trees they have planted etc.

🤝 Trust is earned

We know the key to a service like this is transparency and trust. People need to be sure that the money they provide is actually used for planting trees, and not for funding flotilla holidays in the Mediterranean!

The monthly reports that show how we have spent the money will be crucial to this and will hopefully give everyone some peace of mind.

On top of that, we do not intend to make a profit from this service. Our aim is to give as big of a proportion of the money donated as possible directly to the tree planters. We will need to use a small proportion of the money to cover expenses, and while we can't say for certain how much that will be yet, we will be completely transparent about this in the monthly reports.

💻 How are we going to build it?

Technically this project is relatively simple, but there will be four things we need to build for it to be a success.

🔌 1) API

Of course, the API is core to the whole idea. Our goal is to make it as simple and easy to use as possible. We will be using NodeJS because we are most productive when writing JavaScript.

📚 2) API Documentation Site

An API is useless if it doesn't have good documentation. We will need comprehensive documentation that explains how to use the API with clear examples. We will use Vuepress for this as it makes creating docs with markdown super simple.

📈 3) Customer Portal

This is where users will sign up, log in, manage billing, get their API credentials, and see their stats. To build this we will be using Vue.js and Tailwind UI to give us a bit of a head start.

💚4) Marketing Site

This will explain who we are, what we are doing and trying to achieve and how we plan to go about it. It's important that there's a lot of information here and that we are totally transparent so people trust us. We will have stats for all the donations and expenses leaving no stone unturned.

We will use Gridsome and Tailwind UI to build the marketing site.

🧱 Time to get building!

So there you have it! We have planned everything out, written our kick-off blog post, created the project in Clubhouse, now it's time to get building! We will be back in a week to update you all on how it's going, the hurdles we have hit, the ones we've leapt over and just give a general update on where we are at.

If anyone has any comments or feedback, we would love to hear from you, so don't be shy!

Posted on May 10 by:

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