Green living easier thanks to online tool

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When members of the Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria (CSPC) were looking to expand their roster of community sustainability initiatives, they decided to gather the scattered information about sustainable living all in one place. The result is My Green Plan, an interactive, online tool that helps individuals and households learn about sustainable actions they can take in all areas of their lives. The tool organizes tips into personal checklists for each user, helping them identify what they have done, and plan what they can commit to do in the near future.

"We noticed that while there were a lot of sustainability tools online, it was hard to find one that combined all the information into a single resource," says Sarah Amyot, program manager for CSPC. "You'd have to go to one resource for recycling and another for how to green your house. We wanted to bring everything into one place."

Partnerships bring project to life

A timely partnership arose when Community Social Planning Council was approached by one of its members, a web application developer who wanted to contribute to the community. They discussed how they could work together and came up with the idea for this easy-to-use tool. As principal of Next! Solutions, the member had the expertise to develop the tool and CSPC had the outreach capability and initiative to give the project traction.

In addition, CSPC approached BC Hydro to be a partner, since it has been a strong partner for a number of community sustainability projects.

My Green Plan — a fully customizable green living tool

While it could have been overwhelming to have 600 sustainable living tips all in one place, My Green Plan allows users to choose how they want to approach the information. The tips offer actions that can be taken on a broad range of lifestyle choices, such as: greening your household, green shopping and eating habits, and transportation. Users can work through all actions, focus on the Favourite 50 (a selection of key tips from all areas), or they can work in one concept area, such as home lighting.

In addition to choosing their own action areas, the tool allows users to learn more about them, and create a prioritized plan with notes about resources they find or barriers they encounter.

If you live in the Capital Regional District, get started with My Green Plan now.

Survey says: make it more local

This past November, the tool had a soft launch to about 50 people who provided feedback and ideas. "We gave them an incentive," says Amyot. "We put together a green basket from locally-sourced products as a draw prize for people who helped us improve the tool." CSPC has now incorporated that feedback.

The most significant change that arose from the feedback was to make the tool more specific to the Capital Region, with more local resources. "One thing we've learned is that people don't just want to know what they should do, but how to do it and who can help," says Amyot. "For example, now My Green Plan won't just say 'join a car share co-op,' but will direct users to the Victoria car share co-op."

Sharing the concept regionally and province-wide

CSPC has big plans for My Green Plan; they'd like to see this tool in use province-wide. Amyot says, "We'd be happy to work with people in other areas to take the basic architecture and information from the site and make it relevant to their community."