I just became the excited, bewildered and slightly overwhelmed owner of a smartphone. So while attending a sustainability conference last week, I bonded with fellow smartphone users over the expanding market of eco-oriented applications.
If you want to take your obsession with your smartphone and direct it toward reducing your environmental impact — instead of just gaming — Android- and iPhone-friendly apps abound.
Here are my favorites:
Compost Calculator: For those of you composting in your own backyards, this very simple, one-screen app gives you a carbon-to-nitrogen ratio, with target moisture rates — for free.
It’s an easy reminder on how to monitor that rich, perfect soil you’re brewing, and make sure it’s doing its job of killing off harmful bacteria and noxious weed seeds.
Gas Cubby: This iPhone app allows you to track multiple vehicles, the miles per gallon they get on multiple trips and on various brands of gas, and when to get maintenance work done to revamp your efficiency. This is a pricey one at $4.99, but it gets high ratings and allows a free trial.
Find Green and Good Guide: These are both free iPhone apps that help you make smart decisions about the products you purchase and the companies you support, based on their sustainability.
Find Green uses your location to guide you to anything from yoga studios to organic restaurants. It’s GPS-enabled, which is great for traveling.
Good Guide allows you to scan barcodes and get specific ratings on a company’s corporate, social and environmental performance.
Seasonal Harvest: This Android app gives a list of fruits and veggies in season, per state, with a timeline. It also gives you recipes for each individual food you might find, and sends you to Wikipedia for more information if you don’t know what a muscadine is.
It’s free, or there’s a premium version for $1.99. For iPhones, try What’s Fresh.
Cause World: This free Android app allows you to collect “karmas,” or points to make contributions to the charity of your choice, based on what stores you walk into.
If you’re shopping anyway, this allows those purchases to generate real dollars for clean water, animal shelters, carbon offsets, tree planting and more. It also accepts cause suggestions.
I look forward to this niche getting even better with time, too. Send me your favorite eco-apps at email@example.com
Katherine Doan is the communications coordinator for the CU Environmental Center. Her Down to Earth column runs every other Wednesday in the Colorado Daily.