Even for people who believe in the importance of recycling, saving energy and cutting down on carbon emissions, it can be hard to maintain the motivation to do all the little things that add up to a healthier planet, when less green options are more convenient and cheaper (at least in the short run). So to give their fellow citizens an extra push, three Frenchmen created CitéGreen, a web site that tracks how users get around, recycle and conserve electricity, and rewards them with points that are redeemable for gifts.
The concept is simple: CitéGreen has partnered with companies that operate services like car and bike shares, electronics recycling, and renewable energy production, as well as some city governments. Through your CitéGreen account, you get points when you share a rental car, take out a bike, switch to renewables, or recycle. (The site launched in February and is still developing its network of partners.)
It's all about positive reinforcement. Julien Schweickardt, one of the three staff members, writes in his bio: "Enough of the stick, let's use the carrot to encourage recycling."
Once you've accumulated some points, you can cash them in for a variety of goods, all of which, naturally, are made with the environment in mind. Reusable water bottles, clothing, food at organic super markets, online video rentals, cosmetics, cleaning products and travel packages are all up for grabs.
The biggest hurdles for CitéGreen will be widespread adoption and creating an adequately large network of service providers. But if it catches on, it could do a lot of good to provide extra incentive to make sustainable living less of a resolution and more of a practical, everyday lifestyle.
Here's a video explaining how it works, though it's in French: