We all know it's true: the Earth simply can't keep up with us. We waste and continue to produce, stripping the natural resources and filling dumps with manmade garbage. What can we do about it?
Well, there are several app designers looking for better solutions that fit into our everyday lives. Free and ready to help you conserve, these green apps make your phone the perfect environmental sidekick (though, you might have to get more data to check out all the great ideas here).
Photo by Fotolia/micromonkey
PaperKarma: Reduce Paper Waste
Junk mail is the commercial ads, letters, and flyers no one wants, yet it continues to flow through our mailboxes at a rate of three million tons each year. That's a lot of wasted trees that go straight to our dumps or recycling centers, often without ever being opened or given a second glance. PaperKarma is an app designed to stop that unwanted paper spam. Simply snap a photo of the unwanted mail and PaperKarma contacts the company to remove you from its distribution list.
Getaround: Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
Living in the city means less of a need for a daily vehicle. Where will you park, and how much do you really want to spend on gas? Getaround is the genius app that connects people who own cars to those who want to rent one. Rather than rent a car from a car company, you can simply rent a car from an owner who isn't currently using theirs. Search for the perfect car, set your schedule, unlock the car with your iPhone, and manage your trip—all with the Getaround app. Of course, this works both ways; register your car and earn money renting it out when it would otherwise be sitting idle.
DU Battery Saver: Save Your Battery
You might see this app as a way to keep your phone from dying on you, but the environment will experience this app's ability to conserve energy. DU Battery Saver is designed to cleverly manage your phone and figure out how to save your battery's life. It'll protect you against battery-hogging apps, overlooked energy-wasting settings, and weak charging. This will cut down on your need to charge frequently and, in turn, will help cut down on the energy you use each month.
Locavore: Eat Local
Grocery stores waste money and fuel importing their foods from across the country. However, seasonal fruits and vegetables are often grown right in the community, and this app is designed to connect you to them. Locavore is dedicated to connecting those who want to source their food locally to nearby farmers and farmers markets. This boosts local business and allows you to eat freshly grown produce from your area.
GoodGuide: Set Higher Shopping Standards
When you go to the store, what are you actually buying? GoodGuide makes it easy to see how a product measures up. Simply scan the bar code and check out the ratings. You'll have access to health standards, environmental production/material standards, and more from a product database of over 120,000 products. Know what kind of food, personal care, and household products you're buying—GoodGuide checks out everything from lipstick to pet food.
Rippl: Get Motivated
It's easy to download an app only to never look at it again. What about an app that gives you tips and reminders, helping you set goals and accomplish small tasks to help you save the planet? Rippl isn't designed to provide novel ideas; just simple and practical solutions that you can apply in your day to make a difference for the planet. You might have already considered these weekly tips before, but Rippl will remind you to use a drying rack for your clothes instead of your dryer, helping you keep track of how you're doing.
Of course, these apps can only go so far in helping you live a successfully green life. Each of us has to commit to being part of the solution and stop being part of the problem. Reduce, reuse, recycle, and buy better—together we can really make a difference.
Miles Young is a freelance writer, designer and outdoorsman. He’s worked as a roof contractor and part-time engine mechanic. He spends his free time fishing and tinkering in his garage. You can follow him on Twitter @MrMilesYoung.