The high demand for electric vehicles has led to an increased personal awareness of one’s impact on our environment. For me personally, writing for CleanTechnica has increased my own awareness of how my actions affect the world around me. Awareness is critical because it helps us observe the mistakes we are making and the things we are doing to correct those mistakes.
That aside, many vehicles owners may be curious as to how their personal vehicle is affecting the environment. Many may have read statistics about the impacts of automobiles, which we’ve written about many times.
One way to find out how your car — whether it’s an EV or not — is impacting the environment is by looking into the caremiles app. This is a new app with a focus on helping drivers calculate their personal vehicles’ impact on the climate. And with every mile tracked, caremiles plants a tree.
I had a chance to interview caremiles founder Kashif Sohail and asked him a few questions.
CleanTechnica: What inspired you to create caremiles?
Kashif Sohail: “There were a lot of factors that built up to that moment. COVID-19, the ‘great resignation’ phenomenon, my personal battle with mental health, etc., but I think the final push was an article that has literally changed my life. It pictured a child standing in a barren field, dearly holding a potted plant. The caption was something like, ‘how did we get here and what now?’
“I wanted to help. But how could I tell anyone differently when I didn’t even know my own environmental impact? Fast forward … after quitting my job, selling my house, and moving to California, I find myself chasing the answer to that question ‘what now?’ with absolute clarity, that this is what I want to do for the rest of my time. And it was a stroke of brilliant luck to have met my co-founder, who can help turn this vision into reality. With his extensive experience of building large-scale, high-tech businesses globally, including two successful startup exits, we were able to move at lightning speed. All that creative imagination and technology come together to create a patent-pending solution, forming the core of caremiles.
“caremiles is an action-oriented concept focused on three fundamental aspects: Educate, Mitigate, and Migrate.
- Educate people without shaming them. We are collaborating with acclaimed academia and subject matter experts who are leading the groundbreaking work in behavioral sciences, proving that guilt is not as effective as pride when it comes to people making behavioral decisions towards environmental issues. So you will see all our product designs and communications always showing you the beauty of your actions and not the ugly side of inaction. We still need to have hard conversations though, which we hope to make enjoyable through carefully crafted user engagement tactics and humor (e.g., a cat giving out cat-ass-trophies if he sees human behavior leading to catastrophes. See what we did there?). Look up our team section on Laloo, our Chief Animal Representative, or CAR.
- So, how do you inform someone of their environmental impact? No point telling the user that their impact last month was, for example, 6.3 tons of carbon emissions. What do they do with that knowledge? To simplify, we read the user’s vehicle data directly from the vehicle without adding any device or tracking the user’s phone. We then use methods and standards used by the UN, EPA, and other authorities to determine the user’s impact and translate everything into trees. They are tangible and well-associated with the environment. The user is given the choice to take action and mitigate their impact by planting trees, if they feel like it. It is our job to make them want to mitigate voluntarily and happily, not guilt-driven.
- Migrate to electric vehicles. As you know, we are a ClimateTech company in the mobility space. Our single-minded goal is to help mass adoption of electric vehicles and to solve problems that prevent it. To enable such mass adoption, we are getting ready to introduce features that will offer attractive financial incentives to adopt electric vehicles. Much more to come on this, soon.
CleanTechnica: What’s the process for tree planting? Are you partnered with another organization for this?
Kashif Sohail: We have proudly partnered with Trees for the Future. You can look them up here.
Our biggest reason for going with them was how and where they plant their trees. They focus on Sub-Saharan African countries, some of which are considered by COP26 as least likely to fight climate change on their own, countries where food migration is forcing entire communities to uproot in search of sustainable food sources. The how part is even more amazing. It’s an approach called Garden Forests, where lots and lots of trees are planted very close together (with deep science behind it). Farmers are recruited into a 4-year program and are provided with training, equipment, and support to look after the trees. In 4 years, the trees attain a significantly higher life expectancy, providing food and income to farmer families within the first year, saving and restoring the environment while changing lives. Please give them a shout if you can. They are really, really amazing.
The process is built into the app, which comes out next week. (Signups are already underway!) Some important things to note here:
- For electric vehicle users, the impact is shown as having “saved” trees. So, for example, someone having driven 1,000 miles would have saved 60 trees. As a token of love, caremiles will plant the same number of trees on the user’s behalf, free of cost.
- For gas vehicle users, we will show them their impact as trees “needed” to mitigate their impact. And if they like, they can pay to plant all of the 60 trees or any number they like. It’s a very transparent process. Users pay $0.5 per tree, which goes towards Trees.org (after adjusting for our program costs). The cost of planting a tree is published by Trees for the Future and is available for all to see.
- In all cases, EV users and non-EV users get to see their dashboard over time and also receive an official certificate for trees planted on their behalf. That certificate is then shareable with friends on social media. We want this to become a social conversation. It shouldn’t be a taboo or some distant concept. I hope and work towards a day that we all know our personal environment impact as well as we understand our weight or height.
CleanTechnica: I noticed you were looking for sponsors, what type of sponsor or partner is ideal?
Kashif Sohail: It’s an opportunity for our sponsors to find their audience and position their brands favorably with our community of eco-conscious members. Our impact partners can leverage the caremiles platform to reinforce employee loyalty while helping with the corporate responsibility goals.
So, during this Giving season, our ideal sponsor or partner would be an employer who is well respected by its employees — e.g., the Forbes 500 list of America’s best-midsized employers of 2021. Our offer to them is very simple:
“Empower your employees to change lives and save the planet. caremiles is an app that educates the users about their impact on the environment and helps them mitigate such impact right from their phones. We encourage their behavior by planting trees on their behalf, in a socially engaging manner.”
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