May 11, 2022
In this guest blog post, Natalia Goncharova, founder and web developer for EcoHub — an online platform where people can search for and connect with more than 13,000 companies, NGOs, and governmental agencies across 200-plus countries — describes how the company uses MongoDB to generate momentum around global environmental change.
There is no denying that sustainability has become a global concern. In fact, the topic has gone mainstream. A 2021 report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) shows a 71% rise in the popularity of searches for sustainable goods over the past five years. The report “measures engagement, awareness and action for nature in 27 languages, across 54 countries, covering 80% of the world’s population.” The EIU report states that the sustainability trend is accelerating in developing and emerging countries including Ecuador and Indonesia.
For me, it’s not a lack of positive sentiment that is holding back change; it is our ability to turn ideas and goodwill into action. We need a way of harnessing this collective sentiment.
In 2020, the decision to found EcoHub and devote so much time to it was a difficult one to make. I had just been promoted to team leader at work, and things were going well. Leaving my job with the goal of helping to protect our environment sounded ridiculous at times. Many questions raced through my mind, the most insistent one being: Will I be able to actually make a difference? However, as you’ll see in this post, my decision was ultimately quite clear.
What is EcoHub?
When I created EcoHub, my principal aim was to connect ecological NGOs and businesses. Now, EcoHub enables users to search a database of more than 10,000 organizations in more than 200 countries. You can search via a map or keyword. By making it easier to connect, EcoHub lets users quickly build networks of sustainably minded organizations. We believe networks are key to spreading good ideas, stripping out duplication, and building expertise.
Building the platform has been a monumental task. I have developed it myself over the past few months, acting as product manager, project manager, and full-stack developer. (It wouldn’t be possible without my research, design, and media teams as well.) During the development of the EcoHub platform on MongoDB, the flexible schema helped us edit and add new fields in a document because the process doesn’t require defining data types.
We had a situation in which it was necessary to change the schema and implement changes for all documents in the database. In this case, modifying the entire collection with MongoDB didn’t take long for an experienced developer. Additionally, MongoDB’s document-oriented data model works well with the way developers think. The model reflects how we see the objects in the codebase and makes the process easier. In my experience, the best resource to find answers when I ran into a question or issue was MongoDB documentation. It provides a good explanation of almost anything you want to do in your database.
Search is everything
In technical terms, my choices were ReactJS, NodeJS, and MongoDB. It is the latter that is so important to the effectiveness of the EcoHub platform. Search is everything. The easier we can make it for individuals or organizations to find like minds, the better. I knew from the start that I’d need a cloud-based database with strong querying abilities. As an experienced developer, I had previous experience with MongoDB and knew the company to be reliable, with excellent documentation and a really strong community of developers. It was a clear choice from the start.
Choosing our partners carefully is also important. If EcoHub is to build awareness of environmental issues and foster collaboration, then we must ensure we make intelligent choices in terms of the companies we work with. I have been impressed with MongoDB’s sustainability commitments, particularly around diversity and inclusion, carbon reduction, and its appetite for exploring the way the business has an impact globally and locally.
EcoHub search is built on the community version of MongoDB, which enables us to work quickly, implement easily and deliver the right performance. Importantly, as EcoHub grows and develops, MongoDB also allows us to make changes on the fly.
As environmental concerns continue to grow, our database will expand. MongoDB enables our users to search, discover, and connect with environmental organizations all over the world. I believe these connections are key to sharing knowledge and expertise and helping local citizens coordinate their sustainability efforts.
Commitment to sustainability
When it came down to it, the decision to build EcoHub wasn’t as difficult as I initially thought. My commitment to sustainability actually started when I was young: I can remember myself at 8 years old, glued to the window, waiting for the monthly Greenpeace magazine to arrive. Later, that commitment grew as I went to university and graduated with a degree in Environmental Protection and Engineering. Soon after, I founded my first ecology organization and rallied our cityagainst businesses wanting to cut down our beautiful city parks. Starting EcoHub was a natural and exciting next step, despite the risks and unknown factors. I hope we can all join hands to create a sustainable future for ourselves, our children, and our animals and plants, and keep our planet beautiful and healthy.
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