Like it or not, smart devices are everywhere. With phones and tablet computers offering as much functionality as full-fledged laptop and desktop PCs, people can remain productive (or distracted) anywhere.
That’s potentially good news though when you consider the plethora of mobile applications that have sprouted up to help us better mind our impact on the environment. The number and range of these apps for living green have exploded, and there’s no way we could list them all. Nonetheless, we’ve identified some standouts and will offer five of our favorites here. One of the things we really like about these, too – is they’re all free!
Works on: Android; iPhone; Windows Phone; BlackBerry; other mobile devices go to m.gasbuddy.com
This oldie but goodie app is considered a must-have if you must, like most drivers, still schlep around in a fossil-fuel powered car. Using the power of crowd-sourcing, this software provides subscribers with the latest user-reported recon on gasoline prices in their area. While you certainly don’t want to use more gasoline than necessary, having the knowledge that you’re saving the maximum could curb your urge to drive all over in search of the best price at the pump. Bonus – you can win a $250 gas card, with drawings taking place every week.
Works on: Android; iPhone
Do you have a collection of batteries, e-waste, or environmentally nasty chemicals piling up at home and don’t know what to do with them? Your community just might publish the special recycling dates for all that stuff in a monthly newsletter. But who feels like hunting that thing down? Thermometers, smoke detectors, and other hazardous household waste are no items for the regular garbage – mercury and other highly toxic components in them can and will eventually leach into the water table. The mobile site 1800recycling makes it painless to put your ickiest domestic detritus out of your life, permanently and responsibly.
Non-GMO Project Shopping Guide
Works on: iPhone, iPod Touch
Do you know what’s really in your shopping cart? The big food companies would rather not have their genetically modified food products labeled as such – despite (or perhaps because of) serious questions many people have about those products’ safety. Now, you no longer have to guess whether you’ll be ingesting a genetically modified organism if you take home that name brand grocery item. In addition to letting you search by brand and product, this app provides useful tips to help you say “no” to GMOs.
Works on: Android, iPhone
Human activity, including pollution and overfishing, have pushed the planet’s oceans to near the breaking point. But those of us who give a darn about marine life are far from helpless, and we don’t necessarily have to give up seafood. The Seafood Watch app by Monterey Bay Aquarium lets potential seafood diners look up restaurants and markets that sell sustainably harvested seafood. There were some initial complaints that the app was markedly West Coast-centric. The trick is, the recommendations come from users, wherever they happen to be. So the more geographically diverse the people who download and use the app, the more accurate and helpful the service can grow to become.
Light Bulb Finder
Works on: Android, iPhone
Admit it, you consider yourself “green,” yet still have more than a few incandescent light bulbs illuminating the place you call home. We understand: maybe you have doubts about whether it’ll be worth forking over the extra dough for a more efficient bulb. Perhaps the new bulb won’t provide enough light output compared to its predecessor. The Light Bulb Finder app quells those concerns using cold, hard, numbers. With options for you to input specs on the original light, as well as your current electricity costs, this bright idea app makes it a no-brainer to find, save, and even directly order your new energy-conserving lights.
There’s certainly an argument to be made for resisting the ceaseless urgings of the small screen for our attention. When people are constantly checking their status, responding to emails, and immersing themselves in addictive apps, they miss out on the world around them of real sights, sounds, smells, and actual human contact. That said, apps like the ones in this article do put life-improving information at our fingertips; by highlighting the environmental consequences of our behaviors, they can guide us to be better stewards of our planet.
Your turn: Do you agree with the above list? If not, which ones did we miss? What are your favorite green apps and why?