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March 23, 2017

How my iPhone Helped Me to Live Greener.

I’d be lying if I said that sustainability was always a factor in my decisions.

Picking anything from clothes and home appliances to summer vacation destinations was all about fulfilling my needs. I didn’t consider my individual decisions to have much impact on the environment. What’s another plastic dish on the pile of rubbish, I thought.

It all changed when I met my current partner.

I observed his behavior. His sense of awareness and the attention he pays to the minute details of his surroundings helped me to see nature from a different perspective. He is a scientist who deals with tiny organisms, and I could tell from the moment I met him that he has a unique way of relating to the world.

He made me realize all living organisms are located in a web of interconnections. Each choice one organism makes has an impact on all other living beings. It was so simple, and yet it had a powerful effect on my daily life. I changed my habits with sustainability in mind. But I never expected that technology could become an ally.

Over the last year, I tried these seven apps that helped me to live greener, and they proved to be fantastic in guiding me toward a more sustainable lifestyle.

1. Green Genie

This app is great for beginning the journey toward sustainable living. It offers more than 100 projects to try—from bringing one’s own grocery bags during shopping or reducing paper usage at a company. I even submitted a few projects of my own.

It also has a glossary of green terms and a smart library of essential sustainability reads. I found some great recommendations for local green organizations. One thing to know about this is app is that it is resource heavy. Since I couldn’t use the app on-the-go due to to my poor data package plan, I unlocked my iPhone to fully enjoy this and other apps.

2. iRecycle

This amazing app shows how to recycle over 240 different materials in a given city for free. It’s perfect for those like me who aren’t used to recycling. Plus, moving around the country taught me that recycling standards may vary. Sometimes things can get really confusing, but iRecycle was always of great help. It’s also available on Google Play.

3. Farmers Market Finder

Local farmers markets are not only full of fresh produce, but also help to reduce the carbon footprint of grocery shopping. I had absolutely no idea where I could find a farmers market in my area, but with this app I was able to track down farmers markets and more locations like CSAs, open markets, or even pick-your-own gardens/orchards. Plus, I would always check the app before going to a market—it shows information about weather cancellations, too!

4. Carbon Tracker

I travel frequently and was curious about the carbon footprint related to my travels. The app is free and it charts carbon emission changes by month. It also sets goals that helps users to decrease the carbon footprint by suggesting other modes of transportation.

5. Avego

At one point, I found myself working a job that was a couple of miles away from my house. I considered biking, but the traffic in the area was quite dangerous. Not to mention the hills! A friend told me about this ride-sharing app. It’s perfect for daily commute to work, and I was lucky to find a woman who worked in my area.

The app offers access to profiles of users who are interested in sharing their ride to find people who are headed in the same direction. There are ratings as well, so it’s super safe. And on top of that, the app calculates how much each person should pay for gas!

6. Fooducate

This app helped me to make a large step toward the better in my diet. All it takes is scanning the bar code of a food product to get all the information about its nutritional value. The app instantly says whether there are any additives in the food that are harmful to the environment, and not in the small print. It also suggests alternative products.

7. EcoCharge

I often plug in my phone to charge and end up leaving it there for hours. That’s a huge waste of energy. The app was designed for forgetful people like me. It alerts users when their iPhone’s battery is charged. I never left my phone plugged in for an entire night again. Plus, whenever I followed its advice and unplugged my phone, it would give me a small piece of advice for sustainable living.

Installing one of these apps and using it on a regular basis, I saw that a simple piece of software can have a huge impact on my life. Turns out tiny gestures are foundations for massive changes. I believe that if each of us installed one of these apps, the cumulative effect of such a series of small, individual actions would be greater than we could imagine.

We developed our technologies by taking from nature, so it’s only fair that we use our cutting-edge devices to give something back.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” ~ Margaret Mead

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Author: Rachel Jackson

Image: Author’s Own

Volunteer Editor: Alicia Wozniak / Editor: Catherine Monkman

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Rachel Jackson