From app to appreciation 🌱

FireWorks Studios
5 min readJun 17, 2021
Awareness for sustainability went up from 23 to 93% after Eco City was introduced. This is how we did it.

Being sustainable is not always easy.

Here’s how we popularized and raised awareness about sustainability in our community with an app and three simple steps.

Eco-bricks is a global initiative to save, segregate and pack plastics into bottles to make sustainable building blocks. (Source)

Last year, there was a project that encouraged students to make eco-bricks at our school. Everyone liked the idea but few were engaged due to its tedious nature.

As an aspiring game designer, I believe in solving problems through design. We wanted to make making eco-bricks fun and rewarding with an app.

Our journey can be split into three steps. First, we developed an app. Next, we established our presence in the community by collaborating with other student-led events. Finally, we left a mark and gave back to the community to pass on our ideas.

Developing an app

The app rewards players points for submitting eco-bricks. Players can build their own virtual eco-cities from the points, and competition via the leaderboards encourages students to make more eco-bricks. We also worked with students from SusCo (Sustainability Council) to monitor the quality.

The initial version of the task page, main game view, and leaderboards.

We started working on the app in November 2020. After a winter break of *intense development* with Tenzin (Tenzin and I were the programmers), we planned for the app to be launched sometime in February 2021.

Custom houses and pallets were designed by Amanda and Khaira.

In the weeks leading up to the release, Kana and Jordan (marketing) posted concept art made by Amanda and Khaira (artists) on our Instagram page to start building up anticipation.

We launched our first open beta (prototype app) to SusCo members for testing at the end of January. After a week of bug fixing, we officially launched the app to the whole school on February 15th.

The team, right after our official launch presentation.

With the help of SusCo, the initial launch was quite successful. We gained around 80 users, which is around 23% of the whole student body.

Establishing our presence

For the app to reach its full potential it needs to be distributed to the whole community. We decided to work with other student-organized events in the school to further promote the app.

One successful collaboration was working with conferences, two-day student-led events that include workshops, discussions, and presentations centered around some culture or theme.

We ended up making an event function that would display the time, location, and details about events happening during the conference. The app was very helpful for students to navigate the conference, so naturally more people downloaded it and used it.

Promotional image made for an event we worked with.

Finally, after 6 months of hype, competition, and events, a whopping 93% of the students in our school downloaded the app! That’s 325 registered users with around 20~30 users actively competing on the leaderboards!

Leaving a mark

To end the term, we decided to build a sustainable bench on campus because it’s a perfect demonstration of the school’s unique environment allowing young people to come together and create impactful, tangible change for sustainability.

Eco bricks were fixed inside a mold before concrete was poured in.

The bench is made from around 30 eco-bricks and contains about 25 kgs of plastic. We sealed the bricks in concrete to protect them from the elements.

The location was deliberately chosen to be in the middle of three academic buildings, where all students pass by daily. This shows the community where their contributions have been going and will further motivate students to participate in our future initiatives.

The team and the bench. We are all incredibly happy with how it turned out!

So this is the story of how 6 teenagers introduced a 70% increase in awareness for making eco-bricks by building an app, establishing our presence, and finally, leaving a mark!

This is the story of how we made sustainability fun!

Obligatory mockup showcase.

Extra credits

Lighthouse support and funding

The Lighthouse provides grants and support for students that are trying to kickstart projects. In addition to providing funding for the server costs and various expenses, the Lighthouse mentors have been supporting the project throughout its development. We are very lucky to have such an opportunity and we’re truly grateful for all the support Lighthouse has given us!

Promotional image from when we worked with a Lighthouse event.

Meet the team

The team showing off our limited homemade merch.

Tenzin and I are the two programmers responsible for the backend and frontend of the app. Amanda and Khaira are the two artists responsible for all the beautiful art found in the game. Kana and Jordan are responsible for communications and marketing.

I am truly fortunate to have the opportunity of working with these wonderful people and I hope our work can inspire more passionate people to utilize their creativity and bring positive change to the world.