Great Apps that Help Save the Planet

What apps do you use to make your life more green? Carma Carpooling has you covered on transportation, by reducing greenhouse gases and traffic, but what else can you do?

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Recently the New York Times wrote up a list of the most useful apps for living green; from recycling (iRecycle) to finding sustainably-sourced cleaning products (GoodGuide) and much more. 

Will smartphone apps be the future of spreading awareness of environmental issues? At least they can make it little easier for each of us to reduce our carbon footprint.

If you enjoy using apps to make your life a little easier and a little greener, check out the full article: http://nyti.ms/1l39WEF

Can a City Get Beyond Car Ownership?

Cities such as Helsinki are redefining public transit and looking for solutions beyond owning a car or relying on spotty transit. Their plan: allow people to purchase “mobility” via a real-time smartphone app that’s part trip planner and part payment platform. If you’ve tried Carma Carpooling, this might start making sense.

As the LOLNews explains: “Imagine the popular transit planner Citymapper fused to a cycle hire service and a taxi app such as Hailo or Uber, with only one payment required, and the whole thing runs as a public utility, and you begin to understand the scale of ambition here.” Would you consider giving up your private car if there was a system like this?

photo: decade_null on Flickr

Featuring: Nicholas Ryu, Carma Champion!

This summer we are featuring one of our wonderful Carma users and Ambassador, Nicholas Ryu! He is a recent graduate from the College of William and Mary with degrees in Sociology and Environmental Policy. Nicholas has been using Carma since he moved to Sebastopol in October 2013, thanks to two of his friends and fellow Carma users, Adam Zwick and Anais Hall. He thinks the app is great because of the incentives and convenience of driving, all while reducing his carbon footprint! Thanks for being a part of the Carma team, Nicholas, and making a great impact on the community and the planet! Be sure to ask Nicholas for a ride if you are heading the same way!

We’ll all be passengers: what our driverless future might look like

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Maybe you’ve seen all those articles about driverless cars under development by Google, Carnegie Mellon and a slew of other smarty-pants organizations. When I talk to people at the office about what driverless cars mean, I hear about not wanting to give up control or worries about making the car into a complicated piece of consumer technology.

I imagine the technology will adjust to these concerns (or it won’t take off in the first place), but what bigger changes might be on the way? I’ve spoken with a number of experts about what’s in store for driverless cars and would like to share three core concepts about driverless cars, driving habits and climate protection:

1. Cars may spend more time driving

One of my favorite facts is that cars spend 95% of the time parked. What a waste! But with driverless cars people could send their cars back on the road instead of parking. Imagine someone working downtown and sending their car back home instead of paying to park in a garage. What an even bigger waste! Clearly driverless cars, and the behavior they encourage, could mean cars spend more of the time on the road than ever before.

2. Driving may be safer (and cleaner)

The news isn’t all bad. Driverless cars may also be much safer. Human error is responsible for 90% of road accidents, so it seems like there’s room for smart technology to do a better job. If driving becomes much safer, over time car designs could also become much ligher — resulting in better efficiency.

Interestingly, we could also see a reduction in traffic jams. There are cars on the road today with Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) that use sensing technology to prime your brakes or even engage them before a collision. Even a small number of cars with this technology can speed up bumper to bumper traffic. 

3. Transportation becomes a service

Think about having a contract with a car leasing company, who gives you access to a new car ever few years for a monthly fee (just like mobile phones). It’s not so different from what we do now, but it’s a clear break from the idea that we primarily own cars.

Now imagine paying a monthly fee for access to a fleet of driverless cars (like Zipcar or City Carshare), but the vehicles actually come to you rather than you having to find them in a nearby lot. Another example would be the Lyft model, but without needing a driver to take you where you want to go. The company might even have an app like Carma running automatically in the car to help drive down the cost of each trip and increase efficiency. How cool!

- Brant Arthur, Carma SF Bay

Welcome to the Team: Anaïs Hall

The Carma Team is pleased to announce we’ve added a stellar new staff member to our Sonoma Team. Anaïs (that’s ah-nah-iss, ok?) joins us fresh Marin County and her bright, inquisitive spirit is already making a positive impact our on Carma Community. 

GET TO KNOW ANAÏS HALL:

What do you love most about Sonoma County?

I love cooking, wine and the outdoors so what better place to be in the North Bay than Sonoma county; home to amazing vineyards and beautiful parks, mountain skies and ocean views.

Can a change in our transportation routine really change the world?

It’s currently the social norm to get in your car every time you want to go somewhere. Already, population growth and increased income has put more cars on the road, increasing commute times and GHG emissions. But this is only one option. We can choose to bike to work, take public transportation, or carpool. Once we begin to think outside the norm, the norm changes, the world changes.  

What is your life philosophy in 5 words or less?

Love one another

Bonus Question: Power Rangers or Captain Planet?

Gummy Bears?

Thanks, Anaïs! And thanks for putting up with a few silly questions too :)

New [School] Year Resolutions

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Here at the Carma office we’re not current “students”; just workaday folks. But we see all the return of school trips and morning traffic as a good opportunity to take a little time out and think about what we want to do differently with some New School Year Resolutions.

Why wait ‘til January when we’re stuffed with food and holidayed-out? Let’s catch the wave of new school year excitement and set some positive intentions NOW to help us cruise through these upcoming months together.

Here’s a little inspiration:

  • Start earning or saving cash for the holidays now with Carma. Drivers earn $1 per ride + $0.20/mile. As a rider, we’re footing the bill for your first $20 of shared rides! Commit to ridesharing just two days per week and see what you earn/save by November.
  • Invite your neighbors, colleagues, friends and family to get started with Carma. Maybe you’ll discover that you can easily share rides with a co-worker or two. Commit to telling just 10 people in your network about Carma—and be on your way to earning $5 Amazon referral bonuses. Stocking stuffers, anyone?
  • Get to know the Carma system well, use it regularly, and then commit to talking to us about becoming a Carma Ambassador. It’s not hard. In fact, it’s fun and has perks.

So what’s your new school year resolution?

WeGo Rideshare and the Scale of Our Competence

When thinking about climate change, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the prospect of solving such a massive problem.  Solace can be hard to find when looking for solutions at the national and international levels, where progress is painfully slow and the status quo seems too entrenched to allow for change.  When this feeling persists, it’s important to utilize the tools in place for immediate change on a local scale, to feel empowered, and to make an immediate difference.

This year in college, I was introduced to one of the ideas of Wendell Berry, an environmental writer, thinker, and farmer, in a class called Environmental Problems and Solutions.  The idea my textbook focused on is known as “The Scale of our Competence,” the ability of individuals to address global problems at the local level.  While the idea originally addressed habitat conservation, it can easily be applied more broadly.

In an interview with Mark Bittman, a New York Times journalist, Berry’s idea is summarized in a few sentences:

Change is going to come from “people at the bottom” doing things differently. [N]o great feat is going to happen to change all this; you’re going to have to humble yourself to be willing to do it one little bit at a time. You can’t make people do this. What you have to do is notice that they’re already doing it.

WeGo Rideshare is a great example of Berry’s idea. Instead of requiring new infrastructure and a lengthy planning process, WeGo unlocks the possibilities of what we already have today. Nobody needs permission to rideshare, and the WeGo system is equally available to everyone with or without a car.

This isn’t to say larger solutions aren’t worth fighting for, but instead that both large and small answers are required.  It’s important to keep doing our part while the larger solutions are being developed.

Let’s use WeGo to make the Bay Area a great example of a place where people are making simple daily choices to fight climate change at a local level.

—Will Carruthers

WeGo Intern

Recent BART strike: blessing in disguise?

After the BART strike threats became a reality last week, the WeGo Sonoma team suited up and headed south July 1-3, joining forces with Avego to provide shared rides to stranded East Bay BART commuters. Avego turned lemons into lemonade, giving a lucky few new Avego app users helicopter rides home.


During the 3-day strike, the WeGo team put in 15-hour days in the East Bay and San Francisco to make sure morning and evening commuters who wanted to share a ride were covered. The results? We personally  shared rides with hundreds of stranded commuters, and gained more than 2,000 new Avego app users! That’s 2,000+ new members of your Bay Area rideshare community!