Wiser Living
Finding a natural solution

These Smartphone Apps Make Green Living Easier

Making our lives a little bit greener is quickly becoming more important than ever. If you’re used to driving a gas guzzler or not separating out your recycling, though, it can be a little tricky to get started. Thankfully, if you’re like most of the world, you’ve probably got a smartphone or other smart device in your pocket, purse, or on your desk near you, and there are plenty of apps to help make going green a little bit easier. Here are some of our favorite apps to help you go green.

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Photo by Adobe Stock/imagecore

Paper Karma

Unsubscribing from junk emails is easy — just click the spam button, and 9 times out of 10, your email service handles the process for you. Junk mail that shows up in your physical mailbox, on the other hand, isn’t as easy to shed — until now.

Paper Karma does all the hard work for you — simply download the app to your smartphone and scan your junk mail as it comes in. The app does all the hard work for you, by notifying the offending company that you no longer wish to receive their junk mail. It works for unsolicited catalogs too — or even ones you requested but no longer want, but the company doesn’t seem to get the hint and keeps sending them.

Energy Consumption Analyzer

We all get an electric bill every month, and depending on where you live you might get a water bill and gas bill as well. Most people don’t glance at anything other than the balance due — but these bills can be a wealth of information to help you keep your energy consumption down. The Energy Consumption Analyzer app helps to make that a little easier.

If you have electric, gas or water meters that are easily accessible, simply add them to your app and periodically go write down the current meter readings. The app does the rest — calculating your household’s average rate of energy, water or gas consumption. If you input the current cost per unit, the app will even calculate how much your bill should be before fees and taxes.

While it does require a little bit of work on your part, this app can be a great tool if you’re concerned about how much energy you’re using. Then you can work on reducing it.

UFO Power Center

If you want to be more proactive in moderating your home’s energy consumption, consider the UFO power center. While this does require you purchase compatible power strips for your home, this app enables you to track exactly how much energy your devices use as well as shut off power strips remotely that are not in use. You can even schedule specific outlets or appliances to shut off at non-peak hours to prevent them from using up and wasting electricity when they’re not in use.

While the power center requires an investment, once the initial purchase is made, you can potentially save hundreds of dollars on your power bill every year. And, as an added bonus, if you forget to turn off the coffee maker before you leave for work, you can simply log into the app and turn off the outlet.

iRecycle

Unless your city or town makes recycling mandatory, it can be difficult to know what to recycle and where to recycle it in your area. Can you recycle those old pizza boxes or do they have to go in the trash? What about 2-liter soda bottles? While you can call your local recycling center to get the answers — assuming you have a local recycling center — it’s much easier to just pop open your iRecycle app.

This app helps you separate recyclables from non-recyclables and uses your phone’s location to help you find local recycling centers. It’s also got a ton of information about ways you can make recycling easier in your daily life — from choosing package-free items to techniques for separating garbage from recyclable materials.

#Climate

Say you want to donate money to help support climate protection organizations. Do you know which ones are actually doing good work for the planet and which ones are just pocketing all their donations to pay their CEO? While you can find end-of-year income statements for any non-profit organization in the country — all of that information is public record by default — unless you’re an accountant, it can be hard to navigate all that information. 

#Climate does all the hard work for you, listing the climate organizations that are helping the planet and deserve your support and warning you away from those that aren’t doing any good. Just plug in the organization you’re curious about and #Climate will collect all that information for you.

Light Bulb Finder

What’s the difference between an incandescent light bulb, an LED and a CFL? If you know, good for you. If not, take a moment to download the Light Bulb Finder app to your smartphone. This app has all the information you could ever need about the different types of light bulbs, from how long they last in relation to one another to the carbon footprint of each bulb and even how much money you could potentially save by switching to one type of bulb over another.

If you can find the old version of the app right now, you’re good to go — otherwise, hang tight. The minds behind Light Bulb Finder are currently working on a newer and more efficient version of the app.

Smartphone apps are just one tool to help make going green a little bit easier. Take a look at the ones we’ve listed above, or let us know some of your favorite green apps in the comments below. If we missed a good one, we’d love to know about it.

Boise: A Green City

Boise is known as the City of Trees—nature and urban lifestyle meld seamlessly in this Northwestern town. Geothermal energy powers much of the city, businesses share buildings, commuting is often done by bike and local-trendy restaurants thrive. An artsy vibe emanates from this Idaho nook, making it a cool eco-conscious escape.

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Bikes Everywhere!

Vehicle traffic is typically light, and Boise Green Bike rental stations are sprinkled all over the city. A unique road—the Boise River Greenbelt—stretches through the center of downtown; cars are not allowed on this path. Many essential business and points of interest are on the Greenbelt, so it’s easy to do without a vehicle. Even mail carriers travel by foot. 

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Local Food

An overwhelming amount of fresh, local, organic and vegan food choices are situated throughout the area. Everyone seems to be connected; businesses feature each other’s products, which creates a unique system of local support.

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Essential Eats

  • Paddles Up Poke - Asian inspired bowls of rice, seaweed, fresh veggies and sashimi. Vegetarian Options

  • Boise Fry Company - Local and organic potatoes are used to make heavenly french fry selections that pair with different spices sauces, like blueberry ketchup. The vegan burger is perfect, and the gluten free bun is soft and airy. Vegan Options

  • Wild Root Cafe - Seasonally shifting, vegan driven, modern veggie dishes are served in a vibrant atmosphere. Chicken can be added instead of tofu, or the delicious grilled tempeh.Vegan Options

  • The Stil - Boise ingredients are handcrafted into out-of-the-box ice cream treats like local wine and beer floats! They have great coconut milk based ice creams (go for the cookie dough...it’s gluten free, too).Vegan Options

  • Guru Donuts - Local ingredients comprise Guru Donut’s fluffy dough. Vegan donuts, like the Blood Orange Basil and raspberry filled Jelly Lama, are made with flax seed, coconut milk and demerara sugar.

Culture Preservation

Boise goes to great lengths to preserve structures and history; the Egyptian Theatre is a great depiction of this, and still hosts shows to this day. 

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Basque Block is a deeply respected culture which migrated to Boise from the borders of Spain and France. The museum on the block details the significant role Basque culture played in history, while explaining unique practices and language. You can’t miss tasting Pintox—a basque version of Tapas—at the Basque Market.

While the Old Idaho State Penitentiary dives partially into a more grim historical perspective, it’s been a crucial piece of the state. The preservation of the structures, and documentation of past events, makes for an interesting walk through the old cell blocks and prison buildings.

Local Booze

Boise has no shortage of craft brews, ciders, wine and cocktails. Pure ingredients are a consistent key to each establishment.

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Essential Booze

  • Longdrop Cider - Purposes scraps from a regional sliced apple facility to make their crisp ciders that are flavored with local tea. By using extra apple pieces, they’ve helped reduce 60% of the apple company’s waste.

  • Telaya Winery - Sets along the Boise Greenbelt, driving in bike and foot traffic. Wines here have a unique, smooth taste—Idaho grapes, as well as a delicate barrel aging and toasting processes contribute to the sensational flavor. Local food and snacks are often featured at Talaya, and employees help select a variation of charities to support on a regular basis.

  • The Stil - Keeps with the unity theme of Boise through incorporating local wine and beer into crazy awesome desserts; for example, Telaya wine floats with Lavender Berries ice cream!

Mindful Lodging

The Modern Hotel and Bar was once a Travelodge, and has been repurposed by a Basque descendant into a cool retreat with an artistic vibe and deep roots into the community. Their chef was prestigiously nominated for a James Beard Award—so it goes without saying the food is awesome. 

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The Inn At 500 sets on the other side of the spectrum in the luxury niche, but also ties in elements of the Basque community through themed rooms and mural tributes. Eco-friendly features, like lights that shut off when guest leave with their key card, reduce the environmental impact. Richards, the on-site restaurant, offers a seasonally changing, local menu; the chef has been a Boise staple for years.

Deep Nature and Wildlife Ties

Boise’s intermingling with wildlife and rugged landscape makes it a one-of-a-kind place; rarely does bustling downtown allow for a pristine river to run through its center.

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The Idaho Fish and Game’s MK Nature Center is a habitat for fish, birds and other animals. A stream walk winds behind the center, through trees and over water. At one point, the path dips down and windows set along the river bed. Visitors can clearly observe life below the water.

Camel's Back Park overlooks the city—a short, steep path, and stairs that look of ancient stone lead to the picturesque top. Alternate trails weave through the area as well.

Boise is encircled with protected national forests and beautiful mountains. One side of the range has a desert feel, while a short drive will take you to the rocky, tree covered portion. It’s a gorgeous place for those who enjoy the creature comforts of the city, and the serene purity of nature.

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