There are hundreds of environmental Smartphone apps available for purchase. However, the following apps offer the best interactive mechanisms for users to engage in more environmental and sustainable lifestyles by reducing their ecological footprints.
Light Bulb Finder
Android, iPhone users
This simple-to-follow app allows users to understand the total energy levels, cost differentiations and payback periods associated with LED and environmentally friendly lighting. First the fixture type is chosen, next the bulb style and base type, then special features of lighting and wattage are indicated and finally the hours/day of usage, the quantity and location are input into the app. Based upon user data, calculations are made and a green light bulb is recommended based upon payback period, cost, lifetime savings, annual energy savings and annual CO2 reduction. In addition to helping homeowners, developers and business owners increase efficiency and decrease their environmental and carbon footprints, Light Bulb Finder also won the EPA Most Environmental App Challenge in 2011.
Android, iPhone users
Concerned consumers should download GoodGuide to better understand the social, health and environmental impact of the product they want to buy. Based upon lifecycle analysis on over 145,000 products, users hover over barcodes and wait only seconds to receive a rating on a scale of one to 10 in health, environment and society categories. Users can learn the explanations behind the ratings, view the certifications of the specified company and flag the issues they want to learn more about, including scientifically proven hazards, energy efficiency, fair trade and resource conservation. GoodGuide is comprised of a leading team of technology and science professionals who care about increasing consumer knowledge about chemicals and toxins, material life cycles and resource and conservation principles used in the extraction, creation and distribution processes.
Android, iPhone users
Initiated from the concerned environmentalists and aquarists at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Seafood Watch serves as the ultimate guide in determining sustainable seafood. The app is very user friendly and provides users with the ability to search a particular type of seafood, view local seafood and sushi guides and locate local restaurants and stores that offer sustainable seafood. In addition, users can also offer their own insight by confirming information about new or existing sources of sustainable seafood. When users enter a product, the app suggests avoid, good alternative and best choice options based upon scientific research. In a matter of seconds, the app reveals information. Whether users are at the grocery store, fish market or sushi restaurant, they can know immediately about the seafood’s environmental status.
Dark Sky Meter
Apple users can engage and participate directly in scientific research by taking night sky brightness measurements through the Dark Sky Meter app. Very limited true night sky darkness remains on the planet as constant human activity relies on energy use throughout the day. This app seeks to globally quantify light pollution to better understand the implications of diminishing dark skies. To ensure the most accurate readings, users must acclimate the phone to complete darkness before taking the reading at an angle just above the horizon. The readings give a value in terms of a Sky Quality Meter (a technological device used to measure sky brightness) and describe the quality of the night sky. Interested Android users can download Loss of the Night and contribute to sky darkness research by counting visible stars and constellations in their area.
GreenPower Battery Saver
Android users can enjoy more battery life and less charge time with the GreenPower Battery Saver app. When opened, the app automatically controls the energy admitted by opened files, such as wi-fi, data, bluetooth and perhaps even Candy Crush, by turning them off when not in use. However, without any trouble, users can reopen the apps at their convenience. Over one million users have downloaded the app and have an option to upgrade to a premium version for a small fee.
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Isabel Sepkowitz is a freelance writer. She is an environmentalist who values sustainability, education, and innovation for the emerging green economy. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.