From second-hand shopping, vegan diets and water conservation, we've got apps to help you live more sustainably.
Over the past few years, scientists have reiterated that being eco-friendly can't just be a hobby anymore. But while suggestions like improving energy efficiency and restoring ecosystems might sound like massive undertakings, there are ways you can make a difference in your own corner of the world. For instance, seeking out more ethical shopping opportunities can help boost both the environment and small businesses. Eating less meat, using reusable bags when grocery shopping, unplugging appliances that aren't in use and reducing water waste are all ways to be more eco-conscious from home.
But thanks to technology, you're not on your own as you try to be more eco-friendly. Here are eight apps and services that can help you live a more sustainable life each day.
One sustainable change you can make is shopping second-hand. A good resource to get you started from home is ThredUpan online clothing consignment and thrift store as well as a styling delivery service, offering lower prices on high-end items -- new and used -- from brands such as Kate Spade and Coach.
There's a lot to explore on the site, but browsing curations for inspiration or searching specific brands can make it a little less overwhelming. On top of the regularly discounted items, there's also a Sales section. You can also get a head start on spring cleaning (and make a few bucks) by donating or selling clothes to ThredUp -- just click the Clean Out tab.
Borrowing instead of buying is another eco-friendly change you can incorporate into your life. With the Olio app, available on iOS and Android, you can help reduce food waste in your area. Simply take a photo of the item(s) you want to share, and any neighbors who also use Olio will get an alert. Otherwise, you can browse items your neighbors are willing to share, like food, cleaning products or other miscellaneous items. From there, connect and arrange a pickup time.
Too Good to Go is a service that connects millions of people with leftover food from supermarkets, restaurants and cafes -- saving thousands of meals per day and radically reducing the amount of food waste in each country, and providing discounted meals to millions. If you live in one of the areas where it is available, you can download the Too Good to Go app on iOS and Android.
With the PaperKarma app, you can reduce the amount of paper junk mail coming to your house. Just use the app to take a photo of the mail you no longer wish to receive, like catalogs, charity donation requests, credit card offers or mail from a previous resident. Select the name or address to remove it from the company's mailing list, and tap unsubscribe.
Before you next deep-dive into an internet rabbit hole, try out the Ecosia extension for Chrome. Ecosia uses the profits (from ads) that it makes from your searches to plant trees. During the Australian wildfires in 2020, Ecosia directed all of the search profits to plant trees there. To date, the search engine has financed over six million trees.
Ecosia works around the world, and publishes monthly financial reports for accountability. Ecosia also says it doesn't sell your data to third-party advertisers or use third-party trackers. You can also download a mobile version of the extension as an app for iOS and Android.
Plastic pollution has become a monumental problem for the planet over the years and it's only expected to get worse. Replacing plastic bottles with a reusable water bottle is an eco-friendly alternative. The Tap app for iOS and Android can help you find refill stations on the go. The Tap Refill Station network consists of coffee shops and restaurants, drinking fountains or filtered water ATMs. The app will show you a station's location, the fastest walking directions, and details about the water at a certain location. It'll let you know, for instance, if you can get it chilled, filtered, sparkling or flavored.
Milk seems like a pretty innocent thing, but research has shown that dairy may have three times the greenhouse gas effect of plant milk and requires more land to produce. Of course, going vegan isn't an overnight decision, and you should research before making such a big change to your diet. But if you're already a vegan or a vegetarian, Happycow is an app for iOS and Android that can help you find accommodating restaurants worldwide that might be open for takeout or delivery right now.
Just download the app, or use the website, and search your city, zip code or region. Happycow will return restaurants that are vegan, vegetarian or have veg-friendly options.
Think Dirty can help you find eco-friendly cosmetics and beauty products. The app helps you learn about potentially toxic ingredients in personal care and makeup products, so you can compare as you shop. Think Dirty rates products on the Dirty Meter, taking into consideration ingredients, certifications and health impacts. You can also keep track of the items you already own in the My Bathroom Rating. Think Dirty is available on iOS and Android.
If you want to dive deeper into the world of planet-friendly apps, here are a few more to check out: