Sometimes it’s hard to imagine how we ever survived without our smartphones.
Remember a time when we kept only paper diaries, used pay phones to get in touch with one another, and had never heard of something called Facebook? For the older generation, we certainly can recall when this was the case. But for our children and for millennials, the world has never lacked the ubiquity of Internet technology.
In so many ways, smartphones have made our lives immeasurably easier. With mobile applications, we’ve become more productive, more efficient, and more organised. Some of us have become more physically fit by tracking our exercise or weight loss progress. And still more of us have found incredible deals through online shopping.
Could apps do the same for our environment? In a time when there is increasing awareness of and movements toward sustainability, it makes sense that apps would develop to support this. And there are quite a few. Are you looking to live a more sustainable, eco-friendly lifestyle? These mobile apps could help you do it.
Have you ever thought about your carbon footprint? This term refers to the amount of greenhouse gases released as a direct and indirect result of human activity.
Oreoco can help to measure your personal footprint based on factors such as the transportation you use, how much electricity your home consumes, and more. Then, it can offer customised guidance on how you can reduce that carbon footprint and help the planet.
Mashable called this “the #1 app to make you more environmentally friendly.” Oreoco is available for both iOS and Android. Get it here.
A big element in sustainability, as well as in a personal quest for natural living, is knowing what ingredients are in the items we purchase and consume.
Beauty products are somewhat notorious for having hidden “nasties.” With the Think Dirty app, you can find out instantly what’s inside your favourite products. All you have to do is scan the barcode on the packaging.
You can see right away if something contains harmful toxins that could have potential negative health outcomes. Or, you might have a product that is safe and green. The app lists the ingredients in the scanned product, and notifies you if there are any existing warnings from regulatory bodies. Think Dirty rates items on a scale of 1-10 so you'll immediately know the level of risk with regards to allergens or carcinogens.
This is especially helpful since there is little regulation and transparency for these products or their labels. Something which is labelled “natural” may not necessarily meet the criteria for an eco-friendly, sustainable item.
Think Dirty can be downloaded on both iOS and Android. Go get it!
Good Fish Guide
The Good Fish Guide app exists as your guide to sustainable seafood. There are thousands of species of fish. Do you know which ones are good for the environment? Before you consume your next seafood meal, download a copy of the Good Fish Guide (available for Android and iOS). At your fingertips you’ll have comprehensive information about which fish are good to consume and which should be avoided. These details are based on factors such as which species are sustainably sourced/farmed, and the level of endangerment or threat to each species.
The app rates fish species on a scale 1-5 that indicates which fish are the optimal choice (scoring a 1 or 2 on the sustainability scale) and which fish to give a miss (rated 5). Fish with a 5 rating are those which are highly endangered or who are most likely to be sourced via harmful fishing and farming practises.
Do your kids love apps, too? There are kid-friendly apps that can help them learn about sustainable living, too. Sustainability Aware is a set of apps that does exactly that. These fun, interactive mobile apps are designed for kids around the ages of 8-12 and there are different versions depending on grade level. While using the apps, kids will learn about how our everyday choices affect the environment. Topics include wildlife, sustainable food/farming, and green products.
Currently, the app is only compatible with devices using iOS. Find out more about Sustainability Aware here.
Joulebug is an Earth-focused app that turns sustainability into an exciting game. This app invites you to challenge yourself and compete with friends. You can earn points, pins, and badges by making sustainable choices. Each action is worth a certain number of points (like 5 points for bringing a reusable mug to the coffee shop or 15 points for choosing public transport). It’s fun to share your activity with friends, motivating each other to do more good things for the environment.
You can even connect your utility accounts to Joulebug, and the app will show you how your eco-friendly actions are good for your wallet, too. Check out your savings in the app. Shorter showers? That’s money in the bank, and a helping hand to the global water supply.
You can get Joulebug here.
Good On You
This app is an excellent option for the Australian consumer. An ethical shopping guide for more than 1200 brands in Australia, New Zealand, and the US, Good On You allows you to see how your favourite brands stack up. Just search by brand name or product category, and you can view the ratings for specific brands. The app rates each brand on practises regarding animal rights, labour, and the environment. Now you can feel confident about choosing brands that support the planet.
Good On You can be downloaded by both Android and iOS users.
Check out the mobile app known as Shape.
If you regularly invest or have ever considered making financial investments, stop before you spend. As a person committed to sustainability, you’ll probably want to make sure your money is going to support a company or brand that reflects your values. Shape can help you figure out exactly that.
Dive in and investigate the organisations you’re curious about. Shape is regularly updated with the latest information on each included company. You can search with various filters or themes to find brands that align with your personal value system. For instance, discover if a company promotes LGBT rights and gender equality. See which brands score well in environmental protection. And be sure companies aren’t linked to industries you don’t wish to support, such as weapons and tobacco.
Shape is perfect for new investors as the app provides plenty of additional information to help you as you build your portfolio.
The ShapeApp is currently available only in the Apple Store.
Going vegan or vegetarian is one way you might choose to help the planet. Eating more vegetables and reducing your meat consumption can help save water and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, among other potential benefits.
If you’re a vegetarian or vegan eater, you can use the app HappyCow to help you find find plant-based locations in 100+ countries across the globe. This includes local restaurants, grocery stores, and more.
Users can also upload photos, post ratings, and connect with other members pursuing a similar dietary lifestyle.
Wondering if that item is recyclable? This mobile app can help you out.
Recycle Smart is a must-have for Australians, as it is known as the country’s “most comprehensive recycling app.” Not only can you use the search function to find out how to properly dispose of an item, you can even set up the app to remind you when to put out your bins! Recycle Smart is like an eco-friendly personal assistant in your hand.
Download the app for free on Android or iOS.
Apps for Transport
Want to save money and reduce pollution? Ditch your car and use public transport, ridesharing, or other environmentally-friendly methods. If you’re in a city, you might download Uber and catch a ride with a driver going your way. Cycling to work? Bikemap can help you find bicycle routes for your journey (don’t forget your helmet).--
Apps can make a big difference in our lives, helping us to build or change habits, or to learn something new. Why not download one or more of these and watch as little changes make a major difference for the planet.
Do you have a favourite app that supports sustainable living?