Alipay is the world’s largest digital platform for gathering data on people’s efforts to reduce their carbon footprints: Through its Ant Forest add-in, users are rewarded ‘green energy’ points for sustainable behaviors such as making online purchases, taking public transport, and bike-sharing through Alipay. Over 500 million users are active on Ant Forest and over 100 million trees have already been planted, reducing carbon emissions by nearly 8 million tons. This is the story of Ving – a resident in Hangzhou, China – an Ant Forest user.
With the Ant Forest add-in available through the Alipay app, users can grow a virtual tree by collecting energy points. The energy earned shows upas a balloon next to the virtual tree on your profile, which appears 24 hours after you’ve completed a sustainable behavior. You have to manually ‘harvest’ or transfer these points, or they will fade away after 72 hours without collection. On the platform, you can also visit your friends’ virtual trees and claim part of the energy they have not collected on time. Once a certain amount of total energy had been reached, you can exchange that energy to plant a real tree in China – choosing not only the type of the tree, but where to plant it based on the menu and your energy capability. After you “plant” a new tree, it will take a while until a foundation “adopts” your tree into their project and plants a real tree with a unique code.