Five of the best…eco friendly mobile apps

| 9th September 2011
green mobile apps
Who says technology can’t be good for the environment? Rosie Spinks rounds up the apps that are making the planet a greener place to be

It’s been said, with good reason, that modern technology owes the planet an apology. The abundance of high tech gadgets that run our modern lives has had a major impact on the environment, most of it negative. That’s not to say, however, that they can’t be used for fostering some green goodness. Whether it’s keeping track of your household energy usage or helping to prevent food waste in your kitchen, there are myriad ways a smart phone can make your lifestyle more eco-friendly.

Project Noah
It’s a warbler. No, a sparrow. Or maybe it’s a finch? The Project Noah mobile app harnesses the power of ‘citizen scientists’ everywhere by inviting users to help create a crowd-sourced map of wildlife all over the globe. Users can upload mobile photos of the flora and fauna that they encounter and also participate in missions such as helping to plot bird biodiversity or contributing to an international spider survey. Another feature of the app allows users to see what species have been spotted close to where they live as well as elsewhere. The website has tens of thousands of sightings listed (with more than 2,500 in the UK) and beautiful photo galleries in which you can browse critters by type.
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Sceptical Science
It’s an environmentalist’s worst nightmare: an encounter with a climate change sceptic while feeling ill equipped to counter the blood-pressure raising arguments being put forth. That’s where the Sceptical Science app comes in. Providing users with concise and straightforward rebuttals to the most commonly heard arguments against climate change (‘it’s part of a natural climatic cycle’, for example), you’ll never have to enter a scientific debate unarmed again. Better still, most of the arguments are accompanied by graphs and links to peer-reviewed scientific literature, so the obnoxious bloke at the pub won’t just be disagreeing with you, but with the scientific community at large.
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Love Food Hate Waste
Stocking up on organic fruits and vegetables at the local farmers market is great, but failing to plan your meals ahead of time and thus wasting the seasonal bounty is not. In Scotland alone, at least £18 million worth of food is thrown away each year before its expiry date. The Love Food Hate Waste app helps to combat this wastefulness by providing recipes from celebrity chefs as well as tips on composting, meal planning and food storage. Simply input the ingredients you have in your refrigerator or pantry as well as the amount of people you are cooking for and the app will generate recipe suggestions in response. Additionally, the Love Food Hate Waste website offers information on what major food retailers - including Tesco, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s - are doing to combat their own food waste, helping you make more informed purchasing decisions at the grocery store to begin with.   
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Ethical Company Organisation
The Ethical Company Organisation, which has published nine editions of the popular Good Shopping Guide in the UK, now offers a more streamlined app version of the 350-page guide. Unlike similar shopping guide apps in the US and elsewhere in Europe, this one doesn’t allow users to scan barcodes for information (there is currently no app for this that’s UK specific), but rather allows users to search for products by type. More than 700 brands are included in six areas: food and drink, health and beauty, travel, energy, fashion, home and office and money. A search for coffee and tea, for example, will rate the top brands based on their treatment of the environment, animals, and people, with the highest-ranking brands earning the Good Shopping Guide seal of approval.
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British Gas Meter app
As utilitarian as it is green, the British Gas meter-reading app allows the energy company’s customers to track their own usage, pay their bill, and view their account balance on their smart phone. Graphs representing energy usage for the past 24 months are at your fingertips providing extra motivation for keeping usage to a minimum. British Gas is the first energy company in the UK to offer such a service and the app has been a marked success, with more than 100,000 downloads so far. While it may not be as exciting as angry birds, its creators sought to give customers more power over their energy use and take away the guesswork involved in billing.
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