are some cool apps that work with a mobile phone that can
help me get in better touch with the environment? –
Mitchell Brown, Troy, MI
of “green” apps now that make it easy
for people to find and share information to help
us all become better stewards of the natural environment.
Pictured: A GoodGuide app evaluates a household
surprisingly, there are thousands of “green”
apps out there that make it easier for people to find and
share information to help us all become better stewards
of the natural environment.
American Lung Association’s State of the Air app shows
live color-coded air quality maps for any U.S. location
and includes both ozone and particulate pollution counts.
The app also provides air quality alerts, short-term forecasts
and opportunities to learn more about air quality risks
and to contact lawmakers to push for more stringent pollution
regulations. Another way to find out who’s emitting
what nearby is via aMobileFuture’s Pollution, a free
app that compiles information from various pollution databases
around the world and then shows users which big polluters
are emitting what near them. Coverage includes 1,380 cities,
mostly in Europe and the U.S.
shoppers will appreciate the GoodGuide, a free app that
shows how any of 120,000 food, personal care and household
products stack up in terms of sustainability, fair wages
and even health risks. Users just snap a picture of an item’s
bar code to get the low-down on whether or not it’s
a “good” buy. And the free JouleBug app turns
living greener into a game, taking specific sustainability-oriented
steps such as reducing energy use, recycling more or buying
local and translating these small acts into positive “units
of impact.” Embedded videos demonstrate ways once
can green up daily life.
Systems’ 99 cents GasHog app makes it easy to track
a car’s fuel efficiency. Enter the odometer reading
and amount of fuel added each time you refill the tank and
the app calculates the fuel economy of the previous tank
and compares it to historical averages. The app also offers
tips for improving fuel economy. And Avego’s free
CarmaCarpooling app matches nearby drivers with riders to
share the commute and the expense. At the end of the trip,
the rider can send a payment through the system to the driver
to cover a share of gas and wear-and-tear.
is a free app to help reduce junk mail. Users input their
address information once and then snap a picture through
the app of any unwanted junk mail. Behind the scenes, PaperKarma’s
automated system notifies the publisher to take the user’s
name and address off their list.
popular app is Light Bulb Finder, a free app designed to
help ease the transition from older incandescent bulbs to
more energy efficient replacements. Users enter in their
zip code—the app automatically inputs average regional
electricity rates accordingly—and then choose which
type of fixture, size/shape and wattage bulb(s) they are
looking to replace. The app then suggests options that use
less energy and shows how much money the user can expect
to save with the newer bulb(s).
It’s nice to know that the little screens we’ve
become increasingly dependent upon—and which otherwise
tend to distract us from nature and the outdoors—can
also be used for the betterment of the environment.
State of the Air App, www.lung.org/healthy-air/outdoor/state-of-the-air/app.html;
Light Bulb Finder, www.lightbulbfinder.net;
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