They say you never forget your first time, and I certainly remember mine: When I finally got my hands on an iPad, it was like holding the future. From smart home gizmos and music streaming to books and movies, it put the world in my hands and started saving it, too, with “green” apps that make it easy to live sustainably.
Here are a handful worth downloading. (Note that most of these apps are available for both iOS and Android, but not always. Some are free. Some aren’t. And all are subject to sudden unavailability. Check your app store of choice.)
Environmental Working Group Apps put their product databases in your hands when you shop. Use Skin Deep for cosmetics and personal care products, Dirty Dozen to find cleaner produce, and my favorite, Food Scores, to scan barcodes on foods and get ratings for 80,000 items based on nutrition, ingredient concerns, and processing level.
The Good Guide is similar—it lets you scan bar codes on over 170,000 products of all kinds—but here you’ll get ratings for their health, environmental, and social impacts.
Another great food app is Locavore, which directs you to nearby farms and farmers markets, and tells you what’s in season at the moment.
If you’re hungry for fish, download Seafood Watch and let it cast your line toward the healthiest and most sustainable choices at nearby markets and restaurants.
PaperKarma is a high-tech eco-miracle worker. Take a photo of a piece of junk mail, hit a button, and voila! This genius app will remove you from whatever mailing list sent it. Who says it’s not easy being green?
Track water consumption with Waterprint, which calculates how much water your food, products, and daily activities consume and provides the awareness needed to make better conservation decisions.
Zero Carbon does the same for your carbon footprint. Track the global warming carbon emissions your lifestyle creates and take suggested steps to reduce it.
Carma Carpooling turns the world into a giant rideshare board. Use the app to look for a ride going your way then message the driver. The app will even calculate your share of the gas money.
Win the game of energy conservation with JouleBug, which offers tips to save energy, shows the money you’ll save, rewards the actions you take, and lets you compete with other users for the conservation crown.
One Small Act lets you set all kinds of environmental goals, suggests actions you can take to meet them, and tracks your cumulative impacts over time.
Rippl is similar, but this app helps you incorporate the actions it offers into your life via suggested routines, reminders, and more.
Lastly, win every global warming argument with Skeptical Science, which instantly supplies facts to counter virtually any climate denial claim. Choose from a list of common statements and refute them with science in seconds!
Apps like these aren’t even the tip of the environmental mobile device iceberg. There’s a whole world of eco-apps to explore. Start here then keep on going and you’ll turn your smart phone or tablet into a portable planet-saving super computer.
The Inkslinger has written about environmental issues for over 20 years and is a freelance writer for some of America's most iconoclastic companies and non-profits. His true loves include nature, music of the Americana/rock and roll variety, interior design, books, old things, good stories, pagan rituals, and his wife of 24 years, with whom he lives in an undisclosed chemical-free rural Vermont location along with his teenage daughter and two infinitely hilarious Australian shepherds!