I’m not ashamed to admit my iPhone is my alarm clock, my shopping cart, my favorite magazine, my morning newspaper, and my most cherished photo album… all in one!
Apps (short for applications) on our smartphones have become so integrated with our daily lives because they allow us to do all of this (and more) on a single device. But what comes with apps is a HUGE amount of data generation and in turn, energy usage!
The craziest thing about all of this is that so many people don’t realize how we use our phones is also creating a huge carbon footprint. While it’s not realistic to stop using our smartphones completely, there must be a better way…right? These 10 sustainability apps will help you live a more eco-friendly life, but virtually!
Sustainability apps we use and love
If you are curious about why you should download sustainability apps or what are sustainability apps exactly, head on down to the end of this post for that!
Too Good To Go is on a mission to end food waste! And while there are tons of things you can do to decrease your environmental food footprint like growing your own food or buying bulk organic food online, sometimes you just need some good takeout guilt free! This is where Too Good To Go comes in handy.
Here’s how it works. When a business (think pizzerias, bakeries, or sushi restaurants) has a food surplus, they list it on the app as a “surprise bag”. Consumers using the app can then prepay for the food (at ⅓ of the price!!) through the app and pick it up. Using this system, consumers can get some good takeout food for a discount, and food is being diverted from a landfill at the same time.
2. Good On You
Good On You’s app is your go-to for checking in on the sustainability and ethics of your favorite fashion brands. They have over 3,000 brands and over a million users worldwide! This is all for a good reason. Using the app, you can also discover alternative ethical and sustainable fashion brands that will make you look fab and feel even better.
Emma Watson (yes, THE Emma Watson!) even said “Good On You is my benchmark for ethical shopping!”.
JouleBug helps to promote sustainable actions in your everyday life. Their goal is not only to make sustainable living more simple but also fun! I love their own description of the app where they said: “We hand-picked the best parts of mobile gaming, social media, and educational tools and rolled them all into a giant burrito of wonderment and awesome…”. I love a good burrito pun.
When you complete sustainable actions on their app, you will earn points that can be turned into a fun competition with your friends on social media. Some of the actions you can take include turning your A/C off to conserve energy, refilling a reusable water bottle, or recycling! This app is a great way to get the kids and family involved in eco-living!
Giki Zero provides you with a personalized guide on how you can reduce your carbon footprint (and it's free)! They have over 150 steps you can take so you will never be short of ideas.
They also have giki zero pro (for organizations under 50 people) which is specifically made for businesses who want to help their employees or members understand, track and lighten their footprint on the planet. As an employer, you get a comprehensive engagement program, Impact Director service, additional features, and lots of extra support! This version of the app isn't free like giki zero, but definitely worth checking out.
Oh, and did I mention giki is a certified B corporation?
Vegan and vegetarian restaurants near me? Yes, please! Available in 180+ countries and featuring 156,000+ restaurants, cafes, and grocery stores (wow), the HappyCow app is the world’s number one app for discovering new vegan food. You can check out restaurant reviews and ratings from other users, use filters and tags to find what you are looking for, and connect with like-minded people around the world who are also using the app.
They also have a takeout option available to their USA customers which is awesome if you are on the go, but also want a healthy and ethically sound food option. This app has 4.9 stars out of 25k ratings might I add!
6. Think Dirty
Think Dirty is empowering ingredient-conscious consumers to buy cleaner beauty and household products. They do this through their handy dandy app. You simply scan a product barcode into the app and Think Dirty gives you all of the ingredients and info on the product in easy-to-understand language. It’s a simple concept but genius! One app reviewer wrote:
“Awesome app to test out products and see if they are eco-friendly/healthy or NOT! Of course, it's missing some products but I use multiple sites and apps to see what product scales are so this doesn't bother me. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE that it gives better suggestions!! This has actually been super helpful when switching products such as deodorant! If you're new to using eco-friendly then this app is a great help!”
The OLIO app has rescued and redistributed over 200 million meals! That is amazing! Using the OLIO app, users can search for free food near them that other users don't want or would have otherwise thrown out. You can also lend and borrow everyday household items so you don't need to buy new products you might only use once or twice (who uses a tape measure more than once a year?)! This is all in an effort to fight food waste and with over five million downloads, they are doing a pretty good job at it!
I LOVE Ecosia! I have been using it forever so I am extra excited to tell you about it. Ecosia is a not-for-profit search engine (think Google or Microsoft Bing) that donates its profits from ad revenue towards tree planting initiatives. They function like any other browser. According to Eocisa, “the Ecosia app is based on Chromium and gives you an intuitive, fast, and secure browsing experience with everything you need, including tabs, incognito mode, bookmarks, downloads, and a built-in ad blocker.”
One of my favorite things about Ecosia is the green leaf on the top of your browser, showing you how many trees you have planted just by searching through your phone and scrolling the web as you normally would. It’s so satisfying.
Since they started, they have already planted 150 million trees in over 35 countries.
You all know how much I love ThreadUp! ThreadUp is an online retailer where you can buy and sell clothes online. Thrifting and selling secondhand items is made even easier using their app, where you can find brands like Gap. Gucci, Lululemon, Zara, Ann Taylor LOFT, and more! They have hundreds of new listings going up every day so you are likely to find what you're looking for, or are just going to enjoy a browse! In my opinion, ThreadUp is one of the best online best thrift stores for secondhand clothing out there.
Hello, Canadian readers! Did you know Well.ca has its own points app? Yup! 25,000 reward points on the app equate to $10 in redeemable value at Well.ca! I love Well.ca because they have TONS of green and natural cosmetic brands and in my opinion, they are a great amazon alternative for your green beauty and skincare. While they do carry some conventional products, their zero waste, green cleaning, and natural skincare section is honestly unmatched.
Why download sustainability apps?
We have all heard about big data centers which exist solely to store all of our user-generated data from our tech devices. These centers are carbon intensive… in fact, information and communications tech will account for 14% of the total global footprint by 2040!
In other words, not only does the hardware of our tech impact the environment (also known as e-waste), but the software we use and the data we create while using our devices do too! This problem has even led rise to a new term, "software sustainability".
While the average person might not be able to have much impact on the ins and outs of the tech sector itself, there are other ways us consumers can offset this impact. This is where eco apps can shine…
What are sustainability apps?
Apps that help with sustainability really do vary. But in general, eco-friendly and sustainable apps can be broken down into two main categories:
- Apps that use less energy to run: Siri (Apple's digital assistant), for example, runs on 100% clean energy. This is because Apple’s data centers have servers (which run their apps like Siri, iMessage, or iCloud) that use 100% renewable electricity.
- Apps that promote environmental awareness and sustainable living: These kinds of green apps include zero waste shops, energy consumption trackers, or food recovery programs. Sometimes, these apps can also connect you with like-minded community members who are also on their sustainability journey! Basically, these kinds of apps help you do something you were already going to be doing anyways, like shopping or going out to eat, but more sustainably.
A final word on sustainability apps
Green apps for my iPhone? They are the real deal! By using sustainability apps, not only can we offset our emissions from using our tech devices, but we can adopt more sustainable eco-habits and encourage others to do the same!