January/February 2016 issue
5 smartphone apps that help sustainability
Help make the world a better place with the help of these smartphone apps
By Alexandra Pope
Is one of your resolutions for 2016 to be a more environmentally conscious consumer, but you’re not sure how or where to begin? Start with the device that does it all: your smartphone.
Here are five free apps – available for both iPhone and Android – that will help launch you on the path to becoming a more sustainable citizen of Earth.
Want to make healthy, responsible choices at the grocery store but aren’t sure where to start? GoodGuide is a handy reference for the socially-conscious shopper.
GoodGuide’s researchers rate products based on how good they are for your health, the environment and communities to generate a score out of 10. The closer to 10, the better you can feel about your buy.
One minor drawback: the app’s built-in barcode scanner only recognizes products sold in the U.S., but you can browse the more than 200,000 products already rated by GoodGuide, many of which are available in Canada.
If you’re committed to cutting down on household waste but confused about your municipality’s waste collection and recycling policies and schedules, it’s worth checking if your community offers an app from ReCollect Systems.
A group of entrepreneurs who are “passionate about technology and civic life,” ReCollect has built apps for dozens of Canadian cities, including St. John’s, NL, Halifax, NS, Whitby, ON and Surrey, BC.
After entering your address, you can set up push notifications to remind you about garbage day, view the collection schedule for the next two weeks, and easily check what can go in your curbside blue bin – and where to take the materials that can’t.
The era of social networking has taken the old adage “one man’s trash is another’s treasure” and created the freecycling movement, which is just a catchy way of saying exchanging used goods for free. Whereas before you might drag your old sofa to the curb in the hope it would vanish in the night, apps like Freecycle + Trash Nothing make it easy to advertise your unwanted goods to a local community of potential takers.
Once you log in to the app and enter your postal code, you have the opportunity to join any of a number of freecycling groups in your area and can immediately begin posting offers. By exchanging used goods in your own neighbourhood, you’ll be saving money and keeping more unwanted stuff out of the landfill.
Whether you’re a DIY goddess who’s flawlessly executed every craft on Pinterest or a newly minted homeowner looking for ideas to keep your castle clean and green, BrightNest has a new project for you.
A quick survey when you first launch the app helps BrightNest curate tips and activities to suit your unique goals. You can also browse articles by category to find advice on everything from making your own eco-friendly cleaning products to ways to reuse teabags.
Chock-full of lifehacks and inspiration for visual creatives, this app even lets you schedule projects in advance and add custom to-dos so you’re always ahead of the game.
Developed by California’s Monterey Bay Aquarium, this exhaustively researched guide is a must-have for seafood fans who are concerned about the health of the planet’s oceans. Browse the A-Z glossary and use the search filters to learn more about what’s on your plate or in your grocery cart. Is it domestic or imported? Was it wild or farmed? Is there a more sustainable option available?
The app will even find sustainable seafood near you through their business partners. Canadian options are limited right now, but the app provides enough information that consumers will be able to ask the right questions of their local restaurants and stores.