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Green Is The New Black

10 Minutes With…susGain: The App Making Sustainable Habits Easy

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susGain Founder: Carolin Barr

There’s a new app in town and it’s incentivising people in Singapore to adopt more sustainable habits. If you’ve got the best of intentions but are struggling to take the first steps towards creating a more sustainable lifestyle, download susGain and let it guide you through your journey.

Living in line with the planet’s needs means different things to different people. For some, it’s simply taking their own shopping bag to the supermarket. For others, it might be refusing to purchase anything that isn’t made sustainably. Regardless, the reward is huge: a healthy, thriving planet that all living creatures, including us, can enjoy. But for those living in Singapore, that isn’t the only reward. Sustainability app susGain is giving shoppers a further incentive to do their part for the planet. We spoke with founder Carolin Barr to find out more.

Firstly, what is susGain and how does it work?

susGain is a free mobile app that incentivises people in Singapore to adopt more sustainable lifestyle habits. With the app, users can collect points for their eco-friendly habits. Like shopping at eco and socially conscious businesses or utilising water refill stations or recycling bins. If they shop at one of our partnering businesses, they earn cashback on their net spend and susGain donates the same percentage to the cause/charity of their choosing. Users can spend their cashback rewards at a partnering business or transfer the cash to their bank accounts.

How did susGain come about?

The idea for susGain was born out of the challenges my partner, Jeebar, and I faced when trying to adopt a greener lifestyle. Over the course of a decade, we lived on three different continents, meaning we experienced really diverse lifestyles. This made us reflect on our daily choices and eventually, we decided as a family to consume more consciously. Starting this journey opened our eyes to the sustainability situation here in Singapore. We found that awareness kept growing, yet there was a gap between intention and action. We believed that the local sustainable options needed to be more accessible, convenient, and inexpensive to be adopted by a critical mass. That, combined with our belief that stakeholders need to work together to drive change, led to susGain.

Why did you think this kind of app would gain traction?

With climate change being mentioned in the news almost daily, there’s a heightened awareness for sustainability. People want to do something about it but don’t know how to integrate sustainability into their lives. susGain fills this gap. We help our users turn sustainability into a convenient, fun, and rewarding experience and help them get started one little green step at a time.

susGain interface

How have businesses reacted to working with susGain?

So far, we have received an overwhelmingly positive response from businesses that have come onboard. The app features their eco and socially conscious products and business practices, which helps them attract and engage more Millennial and Gen Z customers who want to spend their dollars at brands with purpose. Much like consumers, many businesses want to do more but don’t know where to start. Our sustainability review, which we conduct during the app onboarding, has already sparked some ideas among business owners for additional sustainable best practices they can implement in the near future. We also act as a connector to help them find solutions for any sustainability challenge they may face, as well as demonstrate that sustainability can also make economic sense. 

Tell us about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and how they have influenced susGain.

Based on the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, susGain has developed its own Sustainability Framework, consisting of 8 badges to identify and evaluate our partnering businesses activities. The badges (such as ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’, ‘locally made/sourced’, ‘vegan’, etc) help consumers easily understand which of our partners’ products and practices have a positive impact. To qualify for listing on the app, businesses must have made at least one verifiable contribution to one of the sustainability badges. Additionally, all of our partnering businesses make a 2-year commitment to further improve their sustainability practices.

What message do you hope susGain communicates to the public?

Sustainability means being more mindful about how we use our resources. But we must also acknowledge that it’s impossible not to consume at all. Each of us has a powerful voice which can be heard in the everyday choices we make with our money. By combining our collective efforts and our wallets, we have the power to change the status quo. At susGain, we try to channel people’s everyday buying needs to the more sustainable options by informing them about our merchants’ products and practices at the purchasing level.

It’s also important to remember that the size of your action doesn’t matter, it’s just important that you start. susGain is designed to make it simple and convenient to kickstart a green journey. As Anne Marie Bonneau said: “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people to do it imperfectly.”

What’s your long-term vision for susGain?

Our vision is to create a world where social and environmental sustainability is the measure of personal and business success. We’re working towards making sustainable lifestyle businesses the best, cheapest, and most convenient choices, which in turn will increase the options available in Singapore. We have a lot of ambitious plans for how we can further increase our impact with susGain. Stay tuned!

This article is brought to you in collaboration with susGain. Download susGain here.

*Lead image courtesy of Paola Barcacel.

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Sarah is a British-Chinese journalist. She has been writing for magazines, newspapers, and websites for the last nine years, first in London and as of 2016, in Hong Kong. As well as working in journalism, Sarah also runs her own editing business, proofreading for academics, small businesses, and NGOs. An avid fan of the planet, she’s eager to champion brands doing their bit and be a part of the bigger conservation conversation. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, consuming very British quantities of tea and (vegan) biscuits, and befriending the local dogs on the small island she calls home.