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Technology

Apps for a more sustainable life

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When the idea of living sustainably was just emerging there weren’t many resources for people who wanted to learn about sustainable practices.

Now, there is so much readily available information out there, as well as practical advice to help implement these ideas easily. More specifically we are talking about the type of help now available by downloading free apps onto your smart phone.

Sustainable transport

Transport is one of the many things that leave a large carbon footprint on our planet. Not only is fossil fuel consumption high in most countries, but the actual making of the vehicles is leaving a carbon footprint too.

While some people have already moved to hybrid vehicles, and it can be argued that more affordable models are being developed, hybrid vehicles still aren’t suitable for everyone’s budget. Even if you can afford a hybrid vehicle, the manufacturing of electric cars causes more than double the carbon dioxide emissions of making a conventional car. No matter what type of vehicle you own, you can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by cycling, walking or taking public transport whenever possible.

Wait, what about that app? Yes, there’s an app that can help you become more active in doing something about climate change. Better still, it rewards you for leaving your car at home. How? It calculates how much you use your car and how much you save by using any of the three alternative sustainable methods of transport.

You can then ‘purchase’ digital currency called Recoins – which are renewable energy coins. This digital currency is used to buy CO2 certificates to help fund climate protections projects. In this way you’ll be compensating for the carbon footprint created when you use your vehicle.

Not only is this app free and useful, using it can be lots of fun. You can have friendly competitions between friends, colleagues and companies to see who has saved the most. Since we all like a bit of friendly competition, this means the app is far more likely to be used. Enterprising companies could even offer small prizes for the winners.

For those who are time poor

There are only 24 hours in the day and sometimes you feel as if every one of them is filled to the brim with things to do. Another app of interest to people who feel like they are too busy to get involved in – or keep up with the news on sustainability – is the #climate app.

By using this app you can choose to hear climate change or sustainability news only from your favourite companies, e.g. Greenpeace. The app will curate the news for you and only send you projects that you have a particular interest in – once you have set up these parameters.

This is ideal for someone who works long hours and may have family commitments as well. People who would otherwise feel overwhelmed by adding more information to their daily agenda can get straight to what is relevant to them, by keeping tabs on what is happening in their chosen sub-sections of the sustainable world.

For those who need a reminder

When you’re pushed for time or have too much to think about you can easily forget the sustainable resolutions you’ve made. You may have resolved to decrease your carbon footprint, but before you know it, you’re following the same old routine over again simply because you’re on auto-pilot. When you’re ultra-busy you tend to do things from habit. If this sounds like you, another free app called Rippl would be perfect for you.

You can setup this app to give you reminders about things you want to do, like taking reusable bags to the supermarket instead of using their plastic ones. Locking such tips and reminders into your mobile phone and setting them to pop up daily (or more often) will help keep you on the straight and narrow by really simplifying the process of forming sustainable habits. You can choose the tips and the times of day to suit your lifestyle.

If you’re feeling truly enthusiastic, you can also jump into the deep end of this topic and schedule a whole heap of tips and tasks to come to your phone. The good thing about this app is that it was designed by environmental scientists from Ocean Conservancy, so the tips and recommendations are all science-based.

If you want your shopping to be sustainable

For those who want their shopping choices to be sustainable, check out the GoodGuide. This app has been developed by environmental scientists for those who want to know how the products they purchase stack up against more sustainable choices. Health and social performance ratings are other components of this app.

Scientists have devised a rating on a scale of 1-10 for health, safety and environment and the product score is based on an average of these three. So if you’re interested in purchasing safe, green, healthy and ethical products, this app will point you in the right direction.

As well as recommending products for you, the app incorporates a barcode scanner – so you can quickly and easily find the information you need on a product as you are shopping. This saves you looking up a whole list of products to find the one you want. It doesn’t get much easier than this! With more than 120,000 products incorporated into the app it’s highly likely that you will find what you’re after in there.

All these excellent apps will help make it easier to make living sustainably an established habit – in place of sustainable practices that are too hard to find and maintain in today’s busy life. There are many other apps on the market as well, so it could be worth searching for them too, if these don’t fit all of your sustainability needs.