By Brianna Dinan
Hoping to live in the greenest city in America? There’s an app for that: MilkCrate.
The app’s creator, Philadelphia native Morgan Berman, aspires to revolutionize the way people live and shop in the city by helping consumers make more sustainable purchasing decisions by connecting them with local sustainable businesses and services.
“Our goal is to make it easy for everyone everywhere to live more sustainably, so that any kind of consumer decision you make, whether it’s food or fashion or transportation, you can have a reliable database of businesses to choose from,” Berman told The Declaration.
Businesses are considered sustainable when they maintain a profit while practicing eco-friendly activities to ensure that all products and processes have a minimal environmental footprint. In order to be listed on MilkCrate, businesses must meet certain criteria that make them sustainable, such as composting or buying food from local, organic farms.
MilkCrate makes it easy for consumers to find businesses and services they’re looking for via a map view of sustainable businesses in Philadelphia, a favorites list, coupons, and filters such as “vegan” and “fair trade certified.”
In order to support their mission, MilkCrate has been raising funds through an Indie GoGo campaign, which offers various perks and deals from local sustainable businesses in Philadelphia in exchange for donations. Between August 24th and October 23rd, MilkCrate aimed to raise $20,000. By the final hours of the campaign, the team raised $20,195 in donations, reaching 101 percent of their goal. With the help of these funds, MilkCrate hopes to grow the app and add more features by January 2015.
The app’s programmer, Jason Cox, says the goal of these forthcoming features is to make it as easy as possible for users to find what they are looking for, and to showcase local, sustainable businesses in the best way possible.
“The next feature I’m working on is really awesome,” he said. “It’s badges for what places do that’s sustainable, such as composting, getting vegetables from a local farm, or both. So if you’re scanning through restaurants with a ton of badges, you’re way more likely to pick it.”
The funds from their Indie Gogo campaign will also support features such as a Bucket List, according to Cox, so consumers can store places they want to go in the future. Another feature would be green living tips, which would teach users to make more sustainable decisions in their everyday life.
MilkCrate, which started as Berman’s graduate thesis in Sustainable Design at Philadelphia University, aims to grow and launch in cities across the country so it can support local economies and encourage sustainable businesses outside of Philadelphia too.
“We want to grow the platform so it provides easy ways to be civically engaged and to connect local communities, so that it wont just be a directory, but it’ll also be a community hub,” she said.
Berman said Philadelphia was the best place to launch the app and campaign because of the growing community of sustainable businesses and the organizations supporting them, such as the Sustainable Business Network, Fair Food, and the Clean Air Council.
“There’s so much energy and activity around making Philly the greenest city in the country. I mean, that’s what Mayor Nutter’s new Office of Sustainability and Greenworks program is all about,” she said. “MilkCrate is just about making that vision become a reality.”