In February 2019, a few of us were having drinks at Avondale Brewery in Birmingham, Alabama. We were discussing our work with Mountain High Outfitters, a local outdoor retailer, to build a way to enable carbon neutral shipping for online orders.

The conversation meandered from consumers to the tech stack: JavaScript + APIs + e-commerce platforms. Eventually, someone asked, "Why stop there?"

I'm an environmentally conscious developer. I ride a bicycle to work for a couple of reasons: It's good for me and it's good for the environment. I know that one gallon of gasoline creates about 20 pounds of CO2, and I can avoid that impact through a small action on my part. There's a reason why more people don't make these small choices on a daily basis, and we think it's because there's no easy way for them to choose to go green.

In our opinion, the best way to discover easy solutions for carbon intensive problems is to give the right tools to the people who know best how to solve problems; developers. The outline to this solution was easy for us: Build a base API, and let's put this tool in the hands of developers to see what happens.

Our thesis: Earth-conscious developers will build more than we can ever imagine if we make sustainability accessible.

This kicked off our march to Earth Day. We wanted to launch a product on a day that symbolically matters. In an idealistic future, the fact that Cloverly launched the API on Earth Day will be meaningful for our story.

What we don't know makes us hopeful

We can't imagine all the ways people will use the Cloverly API, but that makes us hopeful.

Etsy's push to cover the carbon footprint of their shipping validated the proposition that environmental sustainability has value to consumers. The people who built Cloverly have long considered micro-decisions in their lives as opportunities to improve the environment. For example:

  • Reducing consumption to necessities and valid uses
  • Reducing single-person automobile transportation
  • Running the thermostat at the upper-end of comfort

All of those micro-decisions stem from our values. With an API, we know that developers can start injecting those types of micro-decisions into all of our daily choices that impact the environment.