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Green Is The New Black

There’s An App For That: Techno Tools for the Planet

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sustainability apps

It has never been easier to live consciously than it is today; bulk food stores in our neighbourhoods, online bazaars full of eco-friendly products, not to mention the amount of reusable or recyclable items available to us. But there’s a whole heap of companies out there working hard to make sustainability even more convenient and accessible for everyone.

These days, apps traverse every area of our lives imaginable, including living sustainably. In this guide, we’ve gathered up the best apps doing their bit for the planet and helping us do ours. From search engines to games (really!), bike routes to truth-bombs about our makeup bags, these apps are all about encouraging us to live consciously in everyday ways as we continue with our long-term sustainability journey.

Home and Lifestyle

Ecosia | Search engine that plants trees

Think about how often you search the Internet. Now imagine if every time you did that, you helped to plant a tree. Well, imagine no more! When you set Ecosia as your homepage search engine, it uses the ad profits it makes from your searches to plant trees (roughly one per every 45 searches) in its 38 existing reforestation projects around the world from Brazil to Burkina Faso. The company, which has planted 120 million tree and counting, is transparent, publishing monthly financial reports online, and is strict about not selling your data to third-party companies or trackers. In 2020, Ecosia directed all of its search profits to the Australian wildfires, planting 26,000 trees. It has also worked on behalf of the NHS during the pandemic. In terms of accessibility, the brand is global and the app is available on both computers and mobiles.

Install it here

TreeCard | Top-up debit card for the planet

TreeCard is a free top-up debit card that replenishes the world’s forests with help from Ecosia. TreeCard (the world’s first wooden debit card) is free to obtain and puts 80% of its profits (received from merchants who pay a small transaction fee) into planting trees around the globe. It’s simple: every 60USD spent equals one tree planted, you can use it alongside your regular bank, and it comes with an app that helps you keep track of your transactions (and trees planted!). Each card is made from sustainably sourced FSC-certified cherry wood and is unique in appearance. One single tree can produce more than 300,000 cards, and there’s no worry about contributing to plastic pollution.

Get it here

JouleBug | Game guru to help change habits

Who doesn’t love a game? JouleBug knows the answer is: no one. The relatively young app encourages teams to live consciously through competition and play. Through motivational challenges (such as ‘Save a Flush’), it allows users to collect badges and track their impact. Users can also share and socialise with friends and learn helpful tips. From turning off the lights to taking public transport, the app rewards your conscious living efforts and builds both personal and group morale when it comes to changing unsustainable habits.

Get it here

iHuerting | Gardening guide for urban spaces

You want plants in your urban outdoor space, but you don’t know where to start. Fear not, wannabe green-fingered friend, for iHuerting can help you through it all from start to finish. The app starts from scratch, guiding you at every stage so your patio, terrace, or rooftop – no matter how small – will soon be flourishing. It doesn’t stop there, though. The app also reminds you when to water and feed your plants, shows you how to prevent pests (in an organic way), and offers recipes.

Get it here (the webpage is in Spanish, but the app itself is available in English)

susGain | Rewards for keeping it sustainable in Singapore

susGain aims to help Singapore-dwellers adopt more sustainable habits. While living consciously is reward enough, susGain adds a further incentive by encouraging users to collect points for their planet-friendly habits and for shopping at one of the app’s partnering businesses. Points become cashback, which can be spent at a partnering business or be transferred to bank accounts. Even better, susGain donates the same percentage of cashback to the charity of the user’s choosing!

Get it here

Capture | Your personal carbon footprint tracker

What does it really mean to reduce your carbon footprint? Capture shows you. This interactive app enables you to track your carbon footprint by answering questions about food and travel, as well as calculate your personal monthly target based on recommendations. It also keeps track of your progress and offers tips and articles to further inform and inspire your choices. Capture also works for companies and communities, offering a team area replete with challenges and leaderboards. Surely the very definition of healthy competition!

Get it here

 

Fashion and Beauty

Think Dirty | Ingredients guide to your fave health and home products

What’s lurking in your make-up bag? Think Dirty tells you. With a simple scan of cosmetic, toiletry, or household cleaning items, you’ll know if there are any toxic or unethical ingredients in your favourite products. Instead of leaving you to feel guilty and bewildered, the app then offers you cleaner alternatives. Think Dirty enables its users to know what they’re putting into and onto their bodies, as well as what they’re washing down the plughole. Knowledge is power, peeps!

Get it here

Good On You | Ethical brand ratings in the palm of your hand

While it’s fantastic that sustainability is becoming more important to retailers, it can be confusing to know who’s doing what and when. This is where Good On You steps in. The app (also a website) is a brand directory, featuring over 3,000 brands, from big names to lesser-known companies. Each brand is given an overall rating in terms of its sustainability and ethics, which is then broken down into sections (animals, people, planet) so you can further understand what it is and isn’t doing, and if it means what it says. The app also recommends retailers depending on what you’re looking for, and has offers on certain brands, encouraging you to support those who are making the change.

Get it here

DoneGood | Shopping assistant – shop your values

DoneGood is a browser plugin, showing you over 200 retailers that care about people and the planet when you shop on big-name retail websites, such as Amazon and Google. Even better, it gives you discounts from those brands, too. Born out of the idea that we all have purchasing power, DoneGood champions brands that pay fair wages, empower workers, employ eco-friendly production processes, and use recycled or upcycled materials, among other earth-friendly actions.

Get it here

Depop | Marketplace for secondhand clothing

When it comes to stocking our wardrobes and finding reasonably priced garms, we’re all about Depop. The global fashion marketplace allows users to buy and sell preloved and vintage clothing, thereby cutting down on waste and encouraging a circular economy. As well as individual private sellers, Depop is also home to a lot of lesser-known preloved clothing brands, helping to make fashion more inclusive and accessible.

Get it here

Vestiaire Collective | Pre-loved designer fashion at your fingertips

For those who love designer pieces but want to keep the planet (and their conscience) clean, Vestiaire Collective is your new BFF. The company is a platform for people selling high-end branded garments and accessories at a fraction of the original retail price. The company’s USP is that it has its own in-house quality control team who check each item for authenticity and compare it against the listed condition and description once it’s been sold. This means there’s no chance of you being duped into buying a faux Chloe crossbody or a not-so-vintage pair of sneakers.

Get it here

Travel

AllTrails | Must-have maps for hikers

If you love to hike (or if you’d love to try hiking but are hesitant), download AllTrails. This app features over 200,000 hiking trails worldwide, including ones close to your current location, if you fancy an impromptu climb. It also allows you to filter by a variety of variables, from wheelchair friendly to hike difficulty, as well as enabling you to track, record, and share your journeys. No longer will you need to worry about being led astray by poor signage or taking Fido on a humans-only trail.
Get it here

BlaBlaCar | Safe carpool co-ordinator

BlaBlaCar is a French-founded carpooling service, active around the world. The company pairs people travelling between cities with drivers who have empty seats in their car and are heading the same way. Both parties share the cost of the journey. BlaBlaCar currently operates in 22 countries, has 35 million members, and sees four million of them use the service every month. As well as reducing carbon emissions, the company also aims to bring people together. To ensure that everyone feels safe using the service, the company gathers as much information about its members as possible, including peer-to-peer reviews (meaning both parties rate each other). It also has a feature called Ladies Only, whereby women can request they travel only with other women.

Get it here

BikeMap | Detailed trails and tips for cyclists

Cycling is obviously a super sustainable mode of transport, but hitting the streets, particularly in cities, can feel daunting if you’re a cycling newbie. Are there set bike lanes? What terrain will I encounter? Luckily, BikeMap offers more than three million kilometres of cycling routes across more than 80 countries. The app has been designed by cyclists, meaning it shows you what you actually need to know, such as paths and roads suitable for cycling, as well as interactive tours that detail terrain elevation and slope, so no unexpected uphill awaits you. Useful for amateurs and seasoned cyclists alike!

Get it here

Food and Drink

OLIO | Linking excess food with hungry neighbours

Say goodbye to food waste with OLIO. The app informs users of any food in their vicinity that is being discarded or needs to be eaten quickly. Think, a neighbour who bought (or grew!) a few too many tomatoes or a local bakery that has leftover bread. You can both request food that’s available and share your own. The app can be used anywhere in the world and also offers zero-waste tips and facts. Sharing food has never felt so good!

Get it here

abillion | Vegan food finder

This one’s for every hangry vegan out there who has ever struggled to find somewhere to eat. abillion allows you to search vegan restaurants or vegan dishes in over 130 countries, and also offers handy reviews of establishments and vegan products. It also cares about causes beyond diet change; if you post a review, you’re given 1 USD to donate (via the app) to one of the many charities the company supports, from animal rescue to world hunger. So far, abillion has donated more than 600,000 USD to organisations around the world.

Get it here

Tap | Your refillable bottle’s best friend

Thankfully, single-use plastic water bottles are so five years ago; it’s all about the reusable bottle now. Simple app Tap has removed the traipsing and trawling once required in order to refill your bottle in a planet-friendly manner. The app allows you to find water fountains and refill stations with safe-to-drink water near your current location, no matter where in the world you are. You’ll never again find yourself on a wild goose chase for a sip of the good stuff.

Get it here

Love Food Hate Waste | Meal organiser and digi cookbook

This NGO-created app aims to help us organise the food we buy and the meals we make, thereby reducing the amount of food we waste. Love Food Hate Waste is a digital cookbook that enables users to make meals using the ingredients they have at home. It also contains a shopping list, a storage planner, and a consumption planner. It’s all about saving the planet, and also saving yourself from those unsatisfying, bits-and-pieces dinners.

Get it here

Giki Badges + Giki Zero | Scanner for shopping sustainably

We’re all familiar with calorie counter apps that scan foods and determine their nutritional value. Giki Badges has used this idea to help shoppers buy sustainably, ethical, and healthily. Using your smartphone camera, you can scan products at the supermarket to find out what they’re really about. It also has a sister app, Giki Zero – a helpful guide to living more consciously. It enables you to calculate and track your carbon footprint, and provides tons of tips and insights to help you reduce your impact on the planet.

Get it here

 

Education

Sustainability Aware | Learning zone for curious, conscious kids

When it comes to technology these days, children are consumers, too. Sustainability Aware has decided to use this for good and engage and educate youngsters on sustainability. Its iPad app features a variety of educational games that teach children aged 8-12 why it’s important to live consciously, care for nature and animals, and check what impact their actions are having on the world around them. For children at the older end of the age range, the app introduces advanced ideas such as renewable energy.

Get it here

SDGs in Action | One-stop shop for the UN’s sustainability efforts

For information and updates on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, try SDGs in Action. This app provides detailed information about the 17 SDGs (which include ending poverty, reducing inequalities, and tackling climate change), tells you about events in your area that support the goals, enables you to create your own events, gives the latest related news from around the world, and allows you to choose which goals are important to you so that you only receive notifications in that area. The perfect app for a breakdown of what the UN is doing and how you can be a part of it.

Get it here

 

Featured image: By Laura Chouette via unsplash | Image description: looking over the shoulder of a girl sitting on the floor on her phone 

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Sarah is a British-Chinese journalist. She has been writing for magazines, newspapers, and websites for the last nine years, first in London and as of 2016, in Hong Kong. As well as working in journalism, Sarah also runs her own editing business, proofreading for academics, small businesses, and NGOs. An avid fan of the planet, she’s eager to champion brands doing their bit and be a part of the bigger conservation conversation. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, consuming very British quantities of tea and (vegan) biscuits, and befriending the local dogs on the small island she calls home.

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