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Ep. 122 Why the Climate Change Fight Needs an App

Lily Dempster is the Founder and CEO of One Small Step, a free app using behavioral science and technology to help people reduce their carbon emissions through personalized carbon reduction plans and lifestyle changes. In this episode of Apptivate’s Women in Mobile segment, Lily takes us on her entrepreneurial journey, pivoting from working as a grassroots environmental campaigner to becoming an app founder in Australia. Listeners will learn why Lily decided an app would be the best way to address the gap she saw in the environmental movement to address climate change. You’ll find out how she brought her app idea to fruition and the biggest lessons she learned along the way.

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Questions Lily Answers In This Episode

  • Can you tell us about your company and what you do there?
  • What made you want to start an app to address climate change?
  • What was it like pivoting your career to start One Small Step? What advice would you give to someone thinking about pivoting their career into a new direction?
  • How do you structure your day? And how has that changed over time?
  • How did you break out of the mindset of feeling like you haven’t done enough?
  • How did you go about choosing an executive coach?
  • What is some of the best advice you’ve received? The worst?
  • How have you grown One Small Step’s user base?
  • How have your habits changed since creating the app?


  • 1:18 About One Small Step
  • 5:58 Why create an app to address climate change
  • 7:32 Empowering users to set their own notification prompts
  • 8:40 Getting started building the app
  • 12:00 Advice on pivoting your career
  • 17:11 Managing energy, not time
  • 22:46 Executive coaching
  • 26:04 The worst advice Lily’s received, and the best
  • 28:42 The impact and growth of One Small Step
  • 35:00 A word to climate change empathizers
  • 38:05 Lily’s habit changes since the app
  • 43:20 A reason for hope


(15:45-15:51) “If you make mistakes, they’re your mistakes. You’ll learn more quickly than if you’re making mistakes because someone else told you what to do and you did what they told you.”

(21:48-22:12) “I think that when you look at human cognition—what you can get done, how intensely you can work on something, problem-solving, and knowledge work, and how do you that in an effective way and sustain peak performance for as long as possible—you need to build in rest. It’s really critical for your brain function. And so once I understood that intellectually and built systems to support that, it started to sync in emotionally as well.”

(36:00-36:23) “It’s not just about the kilograms or pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent emission reductions. It’s actually about ‘I feel more connected to myself and my community and I’m caring for my family and I’m also caring for the environment around me.’ There’s a spiritual or psychological well-being that comes from sustainability. And I think once people tap into that then it’s pretty self-sustaining.”