Tech Tools for Sustainable Living
A survey in 2019 showed that 77% of people want to learn to live more sustainably, and 82% want to do so for the sake of their children’s future on the planet (1). Having the wealth of information at our fingertips that we do, its never been easier to learn about sustainability, and to access a plethora of digital tools which encourage sustainable living.
From reducing animal products to vintage shopping, there are a number of ways to both reduce your carbon footprint and live as environmentally consciously as you can— here are some of the best apps to help you!
Reducing Food Waste
Despite there being an encouraging yearly decrease in food wastage since 2007, the UK still wasted 9.5 mega tonnes (9.5 billion KG) of food in 2018 according to the Waste and Resources Action Programme (2). The analysis suggests that the UK is on track to continue to reduce this figure if progress between 2007 and 2018 is maintained — and here some some apps which can help you do your bit! (2).
Too Good To Go
Too good to go allows users to ‘do an instant good deed for the planet’ through purchasing discounted, surplus food from local cafes and restaurants. Usually, you pay around £3 for a ‘mystery bag’ and collect it at a given time slot. The app has 30 million active users and is available in 15 countries.
Karma is almost the same as Too Good To Go — in that you are rescuing perfectly good food that would otherwise be thrown out. The only difference is that it is always half price, and you know what you will receive.
Wise up on Waste
Wise up on Waste is an app for foodservice operators (chefs, managers etc), for tracking the type of waste that occurs per meal session at their establishment (breakfast, lunch, dinner). Users receive email summaries, so that they can monitor trends and attempt to cut down on food waste through better stock management for example.
Best before is an app which allows you to manage — as the name suggests, the best before dates of your food shopping. You can scan the barcodes of items whenever you buy them, and the app will remind you to eat them before they go off and therefor reduce your food wastage. Whether you are an organisation-enthusiast, or the total opposite — this app can help you avoid forgetting about different items in your fridge until its too late!
Reducing your Carbon Footprint
If you want to reduce the individual impact you have on the planet, understanding what contributes to your carbon footprint and how to reduce it is the first place to start. Keeping track of it can be confusing and feel like a lot of effort, but there are some great apps to make it more straightforward and help you make a difference.
Plantli is a carbon footprint and nutrition tracker web app, helping people go plant based and reduce their individual carbon emissions. It provides weekly carbon footprint and nutrition scores, as well as meal recommendations based on the foods you eat— in the form of recipes or discounted meal delivery services (like AllPlants). If you become deficient in anything, or need to consume more of a certain nutrient like iron for example, it will recommend you meals accordingly. Users can use the code PLANTLI15 for 15% off AllPlants meals!
JouleBug encourages you to log sustainable actions such as remembering to switch the lights off or taking public transport, and tells you the impact all of your small actions have had on your carbon footprint. It is a bit like a carbon conscious social media platform, in that you set up a profile and connect with friends, following each others sustainability activity. The app allows you to join green challenges in your area, which users collectively log sustainable actions they carry out — for example ‘washed 1 load with cold water’ or ‘ate local produce’ in order to contribute to a collective sustainability points total at the end.
Almond allows you to understand your carbon footprint in terms of where you are currently and where you could be, through living a more carbon balanced lifestyle. It focuses on recommending more ethical and responsible brands to shop from in the UK, which are dedicated to improving key environmental and social issues. As you make changes and buy from sustainable companies, you receive OffSet coins — which you can spend in the form of planting and protecting trees that offset your carbon footprint.
Encouraging users to “be a climate hero!” Oroeco shows users which choices really matter and make a difference to their carbon footprints, while helping you to ‘save money, earn rewards and inspire your community”. Similarly to Joulebug, you can compete and collaborate with friends, comparing actions and encouraging each other to live more sustainably.
According to Greenpeace, the UK is the ‘epicentre’ of fast fashion, with each person buying an average of 27.6kg of clothes per year, and The Guardian reported that “One in three young women, the biggest segment of consumers, consider garments worn once or twice to be old” (3). Sadly, many of the popular fast fashion brands are infamous for the mistreatment of their employees, and according to Fashion Checker, “93% of brands surveyed aren’t paying garment workers a living wage” (4). Furthermore, the fast fashion industry is responsible for 8% of global carbon emissions.
Olio allows you to give away — and pick up, food household or almost any other items that are unwanted and would otherwise be thrown away. It connects people with surplus, unwanted items, with people seeking the item for free, helping both reduce the wastage of perfectly good items and helping people save money.
Good on You
Good on you has devised its own rating system, with which it has marked over 2000 fashion brands. It ranks them according to their ethical footprint, for example how they treat their staff and environmental impact. It gives them one of five stamps — “we avoid” “not good enough”, “Its a start”, “good” or “great” to help users make better shopping choices. Users can browse the directory of brands and learn about their rating before purchasing, and if a brand does not pass users can use the app to send a message to the brand asking them to do better.
Depop, Vinted, Swapsy
These three apps are all marketplaces in which users can buy and sell (mostly) second hand fashion. Buying from independent sellers on Depop for example and not fast fashion giants such as (whose returns for example are sometimes sent straight to landfill or burned) is hugely better for the environment. Vinted is for vintage items only, giving pre loved items a second life and preventing unwanted clothes being thrown out. Swapsy is non monetary and people swap items they no longer want for something they do, win-win!
Reducing/Cutting out Animal Products
With it being known that following a plant based diet is the ‘single best way’ to reduce your environmental impact on earth (5), these apps aim to encourage a plant based lifestyle and make veganism as accessible as possible, for the sake of the planet.
Happy cow makes it easy to find local restaurants and cafes which offer vegan and vegetarian options, featuring reviews and photos of dishes — almost like a veggie/vegan trip advisor. It also tells you which establishments near you offer delivery services — to make it even easier! Happy Cow also has a blog and forum, in which members can discuss topics related to vegan/vegetarianism and offer each other advice, support and tips.
As well as carbon footprint tracker, Plantl.io is your plant based nutritionist providing meal recommendations based on the foods you eat and your nutrient levels. It recognises possible deficiencies before they may happen, to make the transition to a plant based lifestyle as smooth as possible. Nutritional information and advice is sourced from Plantli’s in house registered plant based nutritionist, Alexandra Chapman.
Is it Vegan?
This app is a must have for anyone following a plant based diet, but especially for people starting their journey. It allows you to scan the barcode of thousands of items and find out if the ingredients are animal product free or not. Its extremely useful for flagging up obscure ingredients that you may not realise could contain animal products, such as Vitamin D3 for example which can be derived from sheeps wool.