What are some good smartphone apps for recycling and sustainable living?
New technologies Are developed to make our lives easier. Man the clever toolmaker. Nowadays, if you can think of something useful or entertaining and write a few lines of code then the world is your oyster.
Living sustainably takes a bit more effort, but it's worth the effort because normally you save money and you're also helping to save our little home for future generations.
Of course, technology has a huge part to play in creating the sustainable future we all dream of, and there are already number of apps out there designed to help us live more sustainably. I'm interested, let's go!
Ecosia for search
One of the easiest things you can do to help the planet even while just sitting around is to switch to a different search engine.
Try Ecosia. It’s Google Lite with the added bonus that every search eventually adds up to a tree being planted. 45 searches = one tree. They also don’t track what you look for.
Ecosia is based in Germany and their servers run on renewable power while the trees they plant can be found all around the world. Just by searching for answers you can remove carbon from the atmosphere.
Apps to help you consume products and services more consciously.
We love fashion but we're not huge fans of the fashion industry itself. Essentially it's a huge contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution, plastic pollution and water scarcity. There are more than enough clothes to go around, and apps like DePop and Vinted connect those who have unwanted garments to those that want to buy.
Maybe you have sensitive skin. Or you like good cosmetics. Then you need to Think Dirty. Download the app and use your smartphone to scan a product barcode. Up pops a breakdown of ingredients. You can learn more about the ingredients and if you see something you don’t like, now you have the tools to avoid it.
Plant-based living app
Are you vegan or just interested in leading a more cruelty-free lifestyle? Or you’re just visiting and need to know the location of a well-regarded health food store. You’ll need to visit Happy Cow. It features reviews of vegan restaurants, guides to healthy vegetarian food, natural food stores, and even recipes. They have a smartphone app too.
Food waste app
Over a third of all the third produced globally is wasted. It's sad to think of all that carbon emitted for nothing. This was the sentiment of the guys behind OLIO, the food sharing app that connections you to neighbours and local businesses to either giveaway or purchase food that would otherwise go to waste. Buono!
On your travels around the supermarket is can be hard to decipher which brands are the healthiest and most sustainable. That's where Giki comes in (UK only). With Giki, all you have to do is scan a product's barcode and it will give you a sustainability score and make recommendations for alternatives.
Junk mail is annoying and an unnecessary use of resources. It's time to get rid, and Paperkarma is the app for that! All you need to do is open the app, scan the offending mail - credit card, catalogue, previous occupant's mail - select the name or address to remove it from the company's mailing list, and tap unsubscribe. Done!
Do you have something like A Good Bottle to fill and re-use when you get thirsty? Great! Now download the Refill water station app. Refill is an award-winning campaign to prevent plastic pollution. It does this by maintaining a network of refill stations around the globe where you can go and get a refill of water.
By the end of 2019 in the UK alone, Refill helped stop 100 million plastic bottles from entering the waste stream. That’s even better than recycling; speaking of which . . .
There are different types of plastics; some are not recyclable. Do you know what the numbers mean on the bottoms and sides of plastic bottles and containers? Or if a plastic fork is something that can even be recycled.
Think locally. Cities and countries around the world have very different rules and regulations about recycling. Let’s say you live in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Eureka Recycling has a recycling reference app that’s simple and easy to use and will have all the recycling information you’ll need to know.
If you’re in a new town, city, or country, just like how you might read up on local customs and traditions, also look up what and how things are recycled.
Search for the right app for the right location. If you want a good general reference guide you can try Recycle Coach.
Carbon footprint tracker
Are you a gamer or just have a competitive personality. Workout routines and exercise programs have gotten tons of people off of the couch and onto trails through gamification (does the compulsion to “closing your rings” on an Apple Watch ring any bells).
Can you gamify sustainable living? In a way, you can. Download and use EcoCred to keep track of your carbon footprint, get rewards for improving your sustainability score, and compete for, you guessed it, sustainable and Earth-friendly prizes.
Listen to the most interesting man in the world
Remember to search using Ecosia. Seek and find verifiable information.
Dip your toes into Eco Warrior Princess, a good place for well researched and fair reporting on topics related to sustainable living, recycling, and the environment.
The apps and sites we mentioned should give you a good start. There’s a lot out there and even more that you can do. A Good Company is here for you too.
Interested in other ways of being more sustainable? Check out the top ten ways to lower your carbon footprint.