It is no secret that most of us spend too long staring at our screens: scrolling aimlessly through social media feeds, ogling at things we will likely never buy and, finally, ending up once more on a “funniest cats compilation” with little knowledge of how we got there. It is difficult to live in this digital age without our phones, laptops and tablets – but there is hope! Instead of perusing the web for useless content, why not spend your screen time doing something that will actively help you, those around you and the planet, too? There are plenty of “green” apps designed to cut your carbon, source ethical products, sell or swap within your community, or help you reduce your footprint on the earth. Here is a round-up of some of our favorites.
GoodGuide is a fantastic database of over 250,000 reviewed and rated products. Each product is given a score from zero to ten, based on scientific research as opposed to web reviews or hear-say. Their categories for rating are health, social impact and environmental impact, and their team of scientists have detailed metrics for determining a product’s final score.
The health rating is comprised of the ingredients, the heath impact and any certifications; social impact is determined by its effect on the community, consumer impact and worker standards; while environmental footprint, use of resources and the company’s transparency make up the environmental impact. The app allows you to scan product bar-codes in store for instant information, and covers a range of goods from food to household goods and personal care.
Letgo combines the best from eBay and Craigslist to create a very quick and user-friendly online marketplace for buying and selling almost anything. As a seller, it is incredibly easy to sell an item – you simply need to snap a picture on your phone and you can upload it instantly. Buyers can either use the app or the desktop site to browse for items, and its handy postcode search can whittle lists down to items which are within your range.
The “What You See is What You Get” feature is perhaps the most appealing aspect, eliminating fake or knock-off goods that seem to do the rounds on more well-known marketplace sites.
3. Good On You
Similar to our first recommended app, Good On You is a scientifically-backed database of your favourite clothing outlets, ranked by an ethics score. They use data from reputable sources like Greenpeace and the Carbon Trust to score over 2000 brands on things like their commitment to the environment, use of animals and workers’ rights.
Better still, if you search for a brand and its score comes up less than desirable, the app will recommend similar outlets and offer you discounts for shopping there instead – incentivized ethical buying is here, people!
If you’ve found this article then it’s likely you’ve heard of Olio, but just in case you haven’t – here it is. It was one of the first and most revolutionary food-sharing apps to hit the screens. The user simply scrolls through photos of free food (yes, really!) listed nearby, which would otherwise be going to waste. Items can be posted by anybody, restaurants or your neighbor down the street.
This app really is the essence of local community-building, with everybody pitching in to ensure that perfectly good food does not go to waste. Good for you, good for the planet and good for the pockets.
Ever wondered what your carbon footprint looks like on a daily basis? Well, look no further. Oroeco is the self-acclaimed “World’s most powerful carbon footprint calculator”. With sophisticated tracking features, the app helps you to look at how your choices effect the environment, and how you can reduce your impact. It considers a range of things like what you eat, where you shop, how you travel and the products you buy, and shows you how these directly relate to climate change.
It can take a little getting used to – putting your whole life under the microscope – but it is well worth it, and this app is an incredibly powerful tool for improving your footprint across all areas of life.
We luuurve Hoopla! They are a huge online resource for audio books, movies, music, comic books and more – and you can access it all if you have a library card. The premise is very similar to a physical library: customers rent books or media for an agreed upon period, but from the comfort of their laptop, tablet or mobile device. This eliminates the need to trawl various websites for free trials or discounts, and brings it all under one roof.
The benefits to the planet may not be immediately obvious here, but as a start it reduces the need for cluttered stacks of books, DVDs and CDs which will one day likely make it to the trash; not to mention it is super convenient.
You’ve likely tried ride-sharing apps, but Carma carpooling offers something a little different. It is aimed at commuters and neighbors headed in the same directions, and anyone can sign up to be a driver. A huge benefit is that drivers are simply going to and from work with people headed to roughly the same place, so there is no need or expectancy for drivers to divert to other destinations. Each rider pays a reasonable flat fare of $0.2 per mile, and vehicles can obviously benefit from HOV toll discounts and fast lanes.
The app automatically keeps track of the distance traveled and pays the driver automatically, eliminating the need for petty cash. If you’re a commuter its certainly worth a look into!
Created by the developers of Earth911, iRecycle is one of the top apps for finding your local recycling spots for a whole host of goods. It claims to provide more than 1,600,000 ways to recycle over 350 materials in the USA, which is nothing short of heroic. Recycling is something that can be tedious to remember at home, and often impossible on-the-go; but this app makes it a whole load easier. They even provide useful podcasts and articles on sustainability, recycling and DIY initiatives to help you further reduce your earthly impact. (And yes, it’s available on Android, too!)
These top 8 apps are just the start, and there are a whole host of brilliantly-inspired apps out there made by people who want to make a real change. Talk to your friends and neighbors to discover what is popular in your area and help grow these concepts even further; or find out what your community is lacking and you could be the one to start a local initiative using one of these very apps, perhaps. Use your screens for good: for you, for your local community and for the planet.