This is a list of nine of the best eco-friendly apps available.
In fact, these environmental apps helped me reduce my carbon footprint by 33% in just ONE month.
The best part?
Most of them are free and available for iOS and Android.
Best Eco-Friendly Apps
- Waze Carpool
- Bonus #1: YNAB
- Bonus #2: MyFitnessPal
Tracking your spending helps you take control of your finances. Tracking your calories helps you take control of your diet.
The same goes for your carbon footprint. Tracking it is the first step to reducing it. Enter LiveGreen, an app designed to help you do both.
I’ve been using LiveGreen for about a year to track parts of my carbon footprint such as my “foodprint.” It’s been the easiest way I’ve found to do so.
It’s been a key eco app for reducing my footprint. Before I started tracking, I thought that the best way to reduce it would be to replace single-use plastics with reusable alternatives, such as reusable sandwich bags.
After just a couple weeks of tracking, I learned a hard truth:
Cutting out single-use plastics would do almost nothing to reduce my carbon footprint. To actually reduce it, I’d have to drive less, fly less, buy used more often, and eater fewer animal products.
In other words, tracking with LiveGreen (and other tools like a carbon footprint calculator) has given me a road map for the lifestyle changes I need to make to lower my footprint. That’s powerful information.
Junk mail is such a nuisance that Still Processing, a New York Times podcast, did an episode on climate change with stopping junk mail as the hook.
PaperKarma makes stopping junk mail MUCH easier. All you need to do is snap a photo of the piece of mail and PaperKarma will opt you out of the mailing list.
After signing up I tried it out on a piece of junk mail I’d recently received. I took a photo and the app scanned it to determine which business had sent it. Then it presented me with an option to unsubscribe, which I gleefully did.
Now — and I know how crazy this sounds — I’m weirdly excited to get junk mail so I can opt out with PaperKarma. The app just makes it SO easy. And best of all, I can feel good that I’m doing a tiny part to reduce my environmental impact.
Full review: PaperKarma Review
3. Waze Carpool
From tracking my carbon footprint, I’ve learned that driving contributes much more to it than I had originally thought.
Accordingly, carpooling has become a critical tool in my efforts to reduce my footprint. After all, carpooling at least HALVES your share of the emissions of any drive.
Waze Carpool may on its face sound like another rideshare app like Uber or Lyft. It’s not. The app is designed to make it easy to catch a ride with another commuter to save on gas money and commute time (because you’ll be able to use the HOV lane).
By using Waze Carpool you can reduce your carbon footprint and air pollution in your community. It’s an environmental-friendly app that can have real impact.
Ecosia is a search engine like Google, and it uses its profits to plant trees.
That’s right — by searching the web like you always do, you can help plant trees which sequester carbon and benefit the environment.
It’s a brilliantly simple concept, and the company has already planted tens of millions of trees. They also make it simple to make the switch from Google (which, admittedly, was a bit scary to do but has otherwise been a smooth transition for me).
I love Ecosia because it makes being eco-friendly so simple. Once you’ve made the switch, something as simple as web browsing can become an eco-friendly activity.
Download the app, then go ahead and make Ecosia your default search engine (and maybe even your homepage) in your web browser!
There is a carbon and environmental footprint associated the production of virtually any product.
In fact, money spent on goods, services, and leisure is one of the four main categories that make up an individual’s carbon footprint (along with transportation, housing, and food).
One easy way to reduce your climate and environmental impact is to buy used. Local marketplaces like OfferUp, Letgo, and Facebook Marketplace make it easy.
I’ve been using OfferUp and Letgo ever since I moved to my new house. I used it to sell some home goods that I was no longer using — a lamp, sofa, shoe rack, and closet organizer — and purchase some that I needed.
My roommate also used Letgo to purchase a used bike so he could start biking to work, a doubly impactful purchase.
Buying used has recently become one of my favorite eco-friendly activities because I save money, reduce my carbon footprint, and still get to experience the literal high of shopping.
Going along with buying used, Poshmark is the best app I’ve found for purchasing used clothing.
It makes buying secondhand incredibly easy. It’s so easy, in fact, that I made four purchases within the first week of using it. 😅
You simply shop like you would on any fashion app or website until you find something you like. You can either accept the listed price or make a counteroffer, which I recommend doing.
Once you and the seller agree to a price they ship it to your door. You only pay once you indicate that you’ve received the item and it’s in the condition the seller claimed.
If you’re trying to declutter, why not become a seller? You can clear out your closet, make some money in the progress, and help someone else go green.
Public transportation is often much more eco-friendly than driving your own car. It usually produces much less CO2 per passenger-mile than gas-powered engines.
Transit provides real-time public transit information for hundreds of cities in a number of countries. It makes finding a route via public transportation quick and easy.
I live in Atlanta and recently moved to a new part of town where I have much better access to public transit. Transit’s eco-friendly app has made finding routes to venues I frequent significantly simpler.
Transportation usually makes up a BIG part of an individual’s carbon footprint. Driving and flying are very carbon-intensive activities.
What gets measured gets managed, and OffCents makes tracking your transportation carbon footprint easy. You simply select your method of travel — e.g. car, bus, or plane — and a beginning and ending destination. OffCents then estimates the carbon footprint of the trip.
I’ve been using OffCents for three months now to track my transportation emissions. The information it provided was a wake-up call: I realized how much CO2 I was producing on a daily basis from driving. I’ve since cut back significantly, which has been key to reducing my carbon emissions.
Olio is a food sharing app that lets you find and share free food locally to help reduce food waste. That’s right — the sharing economy has finally found its way to food.
Reducing food waste is one important way to tackle climate change and limit our environmental impact. Discarded food breaks down in landfills and produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas. And, of course, the more food we produce, the more natural resources we use.
Unfortunately, in my experience the listings on Olio are currently few and far between. You’ll notice in the screenshot above that the eggs being offered were over 400 miles away from me — and that was one of the closest listings!
If you don’t compost, or even if you do, consider listing your unused food instead of throwing it away. Someone in your city will get free food, and you’ll feel better that you didn’t throw it all out.
Bonus #1: YNAB
YNAB is my secret weapon for tracking my carbon footprint.
It’s not a green app at all. Rather, it’s a budgeting app. (YNAB stands for You Need A Budget.)
So why am I recommending it?
Because tracking your carbon footprint is A LOT like tracking your finances. In financial budgeting, you keep track of how much money you’re spending. In “carbon budgeting,” you keep track of how much CO2 you’re emitting. You can easily repurpose YNAB for your carbon budget.
YNAB is the heart of my tracking system. It’s where I put all the emissions I generate from driving, eating, using energy, and more. It lets me know exactly where I am on my journey to limit my footprint to 10 tons of CO2 in 2020.
I’ll warn you:
Tracking your footprint this closely requires work. You have to record what you eat, where you drive, how much of each utility you use, and what you spend your money on.
Then you have to use that information to calculate the footprint of each of those activities.
It takes time.
But there is a payoff: you become intimately familiar with what makes up your personal carbon footprint, thus uncovering the exact steps you need to take to lower it.
And you don’t have to do it for long to gain this insight. It only took me a couple weeks.
Bonus #2: MyFitnessPal
Here’s another recommendation only for those who want to do in-depth tracking of their footprint.
LiveGreen, the first app on this list, estimates the carbon footprint of a meal based on its number of calories and dietary type (e.g. vegan, vegetarian, omnivore).
This presents a small problem:
How do you know how many calories are in a meal?
You could just guess, of course. The more accurate way is to use a calorie counter like MyFitnessPal.
That’s exactly what I do to track the carbon footprint of my meals. I count calories with MyFitnessPal then plug the numbers (and dietary type) into LiveGreen to get an estimate of each meal’s emissions.