By Kiah St. Onge Yergi
Changing habits is hard. Many people find support and success with the use of assistive technology. Like Fitbits and Weight Watchers help dieters keep track of exercise and calories consumed, there are now a number of apps that can help eco-minded people track everything from their carbon footprint to water use. Some are gamified, making it fun for teens to get engaged. Growing Climate Solutions’ Intern Kiah St. Onge shares some of her favorites with you and even includes a rating of how tech-savvy you need to be to enjoy using the applications. Those rated 1 are really easy to use, while those rated 5 are for users that consider themselves Tech-Wizards. If you have other suggestions, let us know and we will get the word out.
- OffCents (available for Android/iPhone) (Rating: 3)
- Want to know the cold hard truth behind your personal transportation-related carbon emissions? OffCents tracks your time spent in the car and calculates the resulting carbon emission. Knowing the amount is good, but the key feature is that you can contribute a small amount of money, fractions of a dollar, to offset your carbon emission. By paying to offset your travels, you are making donations to organizations and projects across the globe that mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. OffCents also offers point rewards for eco-friendly activities such as opting to bike instead driving a car. The miles biked are calculated the same way as driving miles, but the counter moves in reverse reducing your footprint. The best part about this app is that it will work in the background, calculating your fossil fuel mileage even when the app is not on. You launch the app once you are ready to offset your carbon, then select how much carbon you would like to offset and Offcents will send your contribution to an organization planting trees or reducing emissions.
- #Climate (available for Android) (Rating: 4)
- Looking for new ways to get involved in climate change actions and advocacy? This app is for you! This platform gathers climate change actions organized by groups around the world and allows you to support and participate in the actions they are promoting, such as rallying against specific policy, showing up at a civic protest, or boycotting a product. You can amplify your actions by forwarding actions to your family, friends and colleagues, and the app keeps track of how many people you influence. With negative climate news constantly in the headlines, it is refreshing to have easy access to get involved in positive solutions. Note that this app is available as a web browser version for iPhone at org.
- My Watermark (AKA Waterprint) (available for iPhone) (Rating: 1)
- Saving water is easier when you have an idea of how much water a particular material, food, or daily activity requires. With the help of May Watermarker, you can calculate how much water you/your family uses daily by identifying where your largest consumption lies. The app is straightforward – simply select a category and choose the item you would like to know more about. Once you click on the item of interest, you will land on a page that explains how much water was required. Note that Android users can use the app Water Footprint for a similar experience.
- Weeatwater (available for Android/iPhone) (Rating: 1)
- This app shows you how much water is required to make certain products in the hopes that consumers will rethink their purchases in the future, opting for a more sustainable option. All the user has to do is launch the app, browse the topics, and adjust the numbers to reflect their use of a product. For example, you can compare how much water it takes to yield one pound of chicken versus one pound of steak. You can even sort by country to get more specific information. The interface is very sleek and simplified which makes this app a fun way to monitor your water consumption.
- EcoCharge (available for Android) (Rating: 3)
- Saving energy causes a domino effect on sustainability. One overlooked way to save energy is by unplugging chargers when our devices are finished. Leaving electronics plugged in wastes electricity and also weakens the battery. EcoCharge allows you to set charge levels on your device, so it doesn’t receive an excess charge, thus saves energy and the lifespan of your battery.
- Eniscope Analytics (available for Android/iPhone) (Rating: 2)
- This app monitors energy consumption in real-time, allowing the user to set consumption limits. With Eniscope Analytics, you set monthly wattage limits for your meters and keep track of the fluctuations. The interface displays a meter dialed from green to red and. As your energy use increases during the month, the meter will go up. The app notifies you if the red zone is reached too early. Responding to this alarm and adjusting your energy use allows you to save both money and the planet. Win-win!
- JoulBug (available for Android/iPhone) (Rating: 3)
- JoulBug is the social network for sustainability. With this app you add/follow your friends and communicate sustainable habits to each other by playing sustainability challenges and tracking each other’s progress. For example, you can challenge your friends to wash laundry with cold water for a week and see who is successful. You can up the ante by set an incentive for the winner, such as picking up the next dinner tab. It’s not all about a challenge though, app can be used simply to browse sustainable habits that you can implement into your routines.
- Happy Cow (available for Android/iPhone) (Rating: 2)
- Are you vegan or looking for vegan options when you go out? This app is a map/locator for restaurants, hotels, and food delivery services with vegan options. Once downloaded, allow the app access to your location and it will show you options in the area.
- Farmstand Finder (available for Android) (Rating: 1)
- A great way to stay eco-conscious is by shopping for only seasonal produce from local farmers’ markets. Shopping local and in seasonal produce supports small farmers, keeps money in the local economy, and reduces the amount of fossil fuel necessary to get fruits and veggies from farm to table. With the Farmstand Finder, you can simply plug in your location and browse local farmers’ markets or u-picks in the area, so you can easily stop by while running errands.
- Olio (available for Android/iPhone) (Rating: 4)
- Giving away your extra groceries instead of throwing them away is a great way to combat food waste. Olio connects you with your community to end food waste by posting what you have extra or do not need. Just add unwanted items to the Olio app by taking a picture, and set a safe pick up location. Next, choose with whom to share and wait for a pickup request. Finally, confirm the “order” and share it with your neighbor.
- CozZo (available for iPhone) (Rating: 2)
- “CozZo is food, home & personal supplies manager, combined with a versatile shopping and cooking planner that helps you avoid food waste by tracking what you have and when it expires.” The app provides suggestions of things to make with the items you have, and what you need to buy or replace. It doesn’t just manage your refrigerator and pantry, it can also track your medicine cabinet and shortage room.
- ShareWaste (available for Android/iPhone) (Rating: 4)
- Give your food scraps a second life by sharing them with your neighbor. ShareWaste allows you to create a social network within your community of local composters. If your household composts, you may have run into the issue of having too many scraps for your own good, or extra compost to share. With ShareWaste, you post your scraps on the app and find someone who can put them in their composter. You can also give away your composter to those that need it in their gardens.!