Buy One, Get One Tree: This Sweet Daily Deal App Helps Grow Forests

The Extraordinary app helps consumers make socially responsible choices with a real environmental impact.
Jul 9, 2014· 2 MIN READ
Patricia Dao is a regular contributor to TakePart. She is a Los Angeles–based serial tech entrepreneur and managing director of the nonprofit Girls in Tech–LA.

Living an eco-friendly, health-conscious, community-driven life is easier said than done. Without the right guidance and tools, finding sustainable places to shop, organic places to eat, and friends who share your attitude can be tough. Now there’s an app for that.

Julien Fruchier, a Canada-based social entrepreneur and founder of the mission-based company Adventurous, has taken the issue to heart. His team is developing an app that makes living a socially responsible life easy and fun. Called Extraordinary, it is dedicated to helping consumers find socially responsible things to eat, do, and see in a city.

“Approximately 55 percent of consumers want to do something about environmental and social issues they care about, but they sit back and do nothing,” Fruchier says. “I became fascinated with the idea of helping people find a start.”

The app works like an environmentally friendly daily deal website. Not just any business can sign up to join its network. To be featured on Extraordinary, a vendor must meet three out of the company’s four sustainability criteria: health-conscious, community-minded, planet-friendly, and/or a local business. The thorough selection process alone makes the service stand out from typical daily deal apps. It also ensures that we’re putting our dollars into growing an economy filled with neighborhood businesses that want to have a positive impact in their communities.

By accessing the deals, members save money, get cool perks, and support socially responsible companies. But Extraordinary goes a step further: The app’s team has set its sights on turbocharging our environment by planting trees in Ethiopia. Purchasing goods or services through the app helps fund the planting of a new tree there. The goal is not only to develop new forests but also to boost employment and the overall economy in Ethiopia. This is particularly true for the locals who make up 80 percent of the people hired to plant the trees.

“Our tree-planting partners hire mostly single, unemployed mothers who would otherwise not have the funds to send their kids to school,” says Fruchier. “Education is not just about helping a handful of people­—it’s the best way to break the cycle of poverty in countries like Ethiopia. It’s a way to help people earn their way out of poverty, and that’s an incredibly empowering idea.”

The app is in its early days, but over the past two years Adventurous has gathered a community of 20,000 people and 300 socially responsible businesses in Vancouver, British Columbia. It’s expanding its efforts to Seattle, San Francisco, and Portland, Ore., this year and plans to add more cities in 2015. To do that, the company has turned to Kickstarter to raise awareness of the application’s launch and to generate funds to support ongoing development. Rewards range from $9 for a one-year membership to $1,500 for a Whistler, British Columbia, weekend getaway hosted by the Adventurous team.

Fruchier believes empowering people to become socially conscious consumers can make a real difference. “The U.S. and Canada make up about 4 percent of the world’s population, and yet we consume nearly 25 percent of the world’s resources and generate just as much of the world’s CO2 emissions and waste,” he says. “Think about it for a moment: If that 55 percent of consumers in the U.S. and Canada shifted what and how they consume, we could dramatically reduce our environmental and social footprint and make a huge positive difference in the world.”