With recent news about ice caps melting, California facing a persistent drought and Wall-E reminding us that our trash will eventually pile up, many of us are trying to live a little bit greener. But how to do that is a constant challenge: what to buy, what to eat, how to dispose of what we're not using. Luckily, there are some innovative thinkers launching apps that can help you live more sustainably. And best of all, they're free.
JouleBug rewards you for being good. By awarding badges, points, and pins, the app encourages users to be more sustainable at every step. In short, it's the Foursquare for sustainable living. Did you remember to bring a reusable coffee mug? 5 points. Biked to meet friends? 16 points. JouleBug helps you save money and cut down on your carbon footprint by allowing you to see what friends do to go green, and ups that friendly competition that makes us all a bit more productive. Plus, JouleBug can sync up to your utility bills so you can see how much money you're saving each month. The average savings are $200 a year. Not bad for a free app.
Rippl is for those of us who need a little extra help remembering to go green. Launched by Ocean Conservancy and Invoke, the app makes simple suggestions on how to live a bit more sustainably. It lets you set personal goals and track your progress. Say you want to remember to bring reusable bags. Make that task a "habit" and customize a routine, like saying you'll carry a reusable bag Monday through Friday for one week and see how it goes. Schedule a new task for the week after, like only using cold water for laundry. See what habits fit your lifestyle and which ones you can easily incorporate into your everyday. Eventually, these habits will build up, resulting in a happier you and happier planet.
HowGood aims to demystify the grocery shopping process. Through a complex system of evaluation, HowGood has created a scoring metric for products based on safety, health, social good, and environmental sustainability. In an increasing number of grocery stores across the nation, a HowGood score will sit right next to the product price tag on the shelf. Using over 60 indicators, HowGood examines a product's manufacturing process, provenance of ingredients, treatment of workers, and waste emissions, among other sustainability concerns. The app lets you search through over 100,000 products for their HowGood scores, no matter where you live.
Knowing how to dispose of waste can be tricky, whether it's your worn-in couch, broken printer, or energy-less batteries. iRecycle brings together Earth911.com's national database of over 100,000 recycling and proper disposal locations for over 200 products. The app lets you specify the item you need to toss and finds recycling options based on your location. The app also provides contact information for the recycling locations so you can call and be sure the info provided is correct.
This app allows you to save trees and your sanity with a click of a button. We all get too much junk mail. It piles up at home, but worst of all, it's a waste of paper. PaperKarma puts a stop to your unwanted mail with a simple photo-based app. Take a picture of your junk mail, press submit, and PaperKarma will contact the mailers and remove your name from their distribution list. One and done. You'll be wondering where it has been all your life. The app was named one of Apple's top apps of 2012.
Try these out and let me know what you think! Have another app you love? Let me know!