Student-launched sustainability rewards app in beta phase

What if you were rewarded every time you rode the bus, shared a bike or a car, refilled your water bottle, donated your time or recycled? Well, you can be now.

CU Boulder, a leader in sustainability and tech innovation, has teamed up with PIPs Rewards to beta test an app that tracks and rewards the good you do everyday.

“It all started with a couple of ‘what if’s?’ said Dave Newport, Director of the Environmental Center . What if a more engaged student was also a more successful student? Research in fact bears this out. And what if there were an App that helped to deepen engagement among students in behaviors that drive up success?

These were the questions that Newport was asking, and that a scrappy young startup he knew was puzzling over too. PIPs Rewards, a Certified B Corp (which means, that per their corporate charter, they have to ‘be good’ as well as ‘do good’) has been developing a solution they call a “motivation/engagement engine.” Its aim is to deepen engagement in beneficial choices – boosting personal, community and planetary health – all through a fun, social mobile experience that mashes up smart tech, principles of behavioral psychology and a ‘currency of change.’

The ‘currency of change’  – called PIPs for ‘Positive Impact Points’ – is earned and redeemed exclusively for verifiable daily life behaviors that benefit the planet, community and personal health.

What sorts of beneficial behaviors are we talking about? On and around CU Boulder, students will be able to earn PIPs for:

  • Bike sharing with B-Cycle and BuffBikes
  • Ride sharing and carpooling with Lyft and Lyft Line
  • Car sharing with eGo CarShare
  • Riding the HOP bus
  • Recycling their mobile or laptop, and buying ‘new to you’ with Gazelle
  • Shopping lightly used and vintage clothing with Etsy and ThredUp
  • Volunteering on campus and with local non-profits
  • Attending CU events
  • Offsetting your carbon footprint with Oroeco
  • Saving and debt reduction (coming in 2018)
  • Reducing and simplifying by donating things they don’t need with Give Back Box
  • De-stressing and detaching from their phone with LifeOffline
  • Refilling their water bottle

Once earned, PIPs can be exchanged for incredible deals at local restaurants and shops, for credits on local services like eGo and Lyft, on books at the bookstore and for equipment rentals and fitness classes at the Rec Center. Or students can turn them in for great discount on national online brands or to make a donation to a good cause.

“The rewards are important, and top performers and most active can earn prizes in addition,” notes Wendy Gordon, PIPs co-founder and CEO. “But the App also comes ready with contests and challenges, and there are more in the pipeline. We are eager to test these tools in small groups and large, to see whether some fun competition and a touch of surprise and delight can boost awareness and engagement in healthier, smarter everyday choices, delivering intrinsic habit-changing benefits as well.”

Unlike other engagement tools, the PIPs App requires that every action is verified before PIPs are awarded. To this end, the App connects up to a number of data gathering methods and tools, including: API integration, beacons, sensors, QR codes and transaction reports. In an number of cases, Gordon notes, “the smart tools we use – like beacons on the HOP bus and in eGo carshares and an API integration with BuffBikes and Lyft – mean a user can earn PIPs without having to take their phone out of their pocket. Now that’s what I call ‘reducing friction.’”

The beta rollout began in early September. Interested in being a beta tester – ‘kick the tires’ if you will on this innovative new platform? Download the PIPs here

Source: University of Colorado Boulder

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