It’s Earth Day, and you may not realize it, but your smartphone might actually be making you more environmentally friendly, one app at a time. You may not consider yourself an environmentalist, but if you’re already using certain apps, you could be doing our planet a huge favor.
To celebrate Earth Day, I’ll go through apps that help you take that extra step to reduce waste and emissions in different ways, maybe even making your life a little more convenient in the process.
Read digital news
A lot of people already read their news online, which sure, may have significantly hurt the print media industry. On the other hand, however, it’s also helped decrease the amount of paper waste caused by daily newspapers being read and discarded in a matter of hours. If you’re still not convinced, or just aren’t a fan of reading your news in microscopic form on your smartphone, try using apps like Newsbeat and Peekster.
Newsbeat reads yours news for you, outloud
Newsbeat for iOS and Android dictates your news to you and includes a lot of local and national print sources in its database, turning your news stories into digitized audio. If you want to make the transition even smoother, try Peekster for iOS, an app that will scan the headline of your physical newspaper and find the digital counterpart in its database. This can be good to share news, as well as to help you get used to reading it in digitized form.
Take public transport
Reducing CO2 emissions by leaving your car at home even one day a week can make a huge difference. If you avoid public transport because you find it difficult to plan or navigate your journey, apps like Moovit and CityMapper make the process a lot easier.
CityMapper gives you detailed public transit info
Moovit for iOS and Android has a comprehensive list of cities and transportation options with live departure times to help you get where you need to go and on time. CityMapper for iOS and Android is even better, a comprehensive public transport app that can get you anywhere in the quickest way possible, with detailed info about different transport methods and routes to your location. The biggest downside of CityMapper is that it’s only available in a few select cities, while Moovit has a wider availability.
Where environmental incentives may not be enough for some, health benefits are another great reason to ditch the car. If you want to go one step further (literally), try using apps that track your movement, like Human and Moves.
Human shows you how much longer until you reach your daily goal
Human for iOS aims to help you stay active at least 30 minutes a day, setting a goal to match your level of daily physical activity. If reaching your goal means walking to the store to get milk instead of taking the car, you might be more inclined to do so. Moves for iOS and Android is similar, tracking your steps, calories, and time spent walking, cycling, and on public transport, sending you daily notifications of how much you’ve moved every day.
Manage your files and photos online
Storing stuff in the cloud not only clears up a ton of physical space, but also makes storing all your documents, media, and images more eco-friendly. Without the need to print documents or save them to an external device, you have all your files in one, paper-free place with apps like Dropbox and Carousel.
Carousel creates a digital photo album
Dropbox for iOS and Android stores all your files in the cloud, working with the Mac and Windows apps to help you manage your files. Carousel for iOS and Android works in conjunction with Dropbox to help manage your photos, creating a chronological photo album on your smartphone. Of course, there are still some things you’ll want to keep physical copies of, but for everything else, it’s nice to store files and photos in a secure place that’s accessible anywhere, without paper waste.
Control lighting and electricity
Although you need separate devices to use these apps, both Hue by Philips and WeMo help demonstrate how easy it can be to manage your electricity usage, right on your phone.
Hue by Philips is a light bulb that you can manage with an app on your phone, turning lights on and off, as well as dimming them, using a device connected to your modem, along with your Wi-fi network. With the app, you can control the color, brightness, or mood of the room with preset options, as well as set a timer on your lights to turn on or off at certain times or on certain days. WeMo is similar, using a switch to help you control all your home electronics like heating, your TV, and of course, lighting. Like Hue, it works over a Wi-fi network, and can be controlled either inside our outside the home.
Whether you’re doing it to support a cause, or simply out of convenience, these apps can actually help make the environment, and your life, a little bit better.