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EarthTalk - What are some apps that help individuals save the planet?

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Roddy Scheer & Doug Moss

Dear EarthTalk:

What are some apps that help individuals save the planet?

Robert E., via email

Most of us spend upwards of three hours on our smartphones every day. Much of our phone time is spent messaging friends and family, scrolling through social media feeds, watching video shorts and playing mindless games—but what if we could use it more productively to help save the planet? Not surprisingly, there are dozens of apps out there designed to solve environmental issues. Whether you want to cut your carbon footprint, reduce food waste, or save water, there’s an app (or two) out there for it.

One of the hottest sustainability-oriented apps out there these days is Too Good to Go, which connects customers to restaurants and stores that have surplus unsold food that can be procured for significantly discounted prices. The Olio app works along similar lines—connecting neighbors with each other and with local businesses to share surplus food. Olio can be used to find new owners for your old non-food items as well, keeping more stuff in use and out of landfills.

Eco-conscious fashionistas can rejoice over how the Good On You app allows them to check on the sustainability records and ethical stances of more than 3,000 different fashion brands. The app is a great companion on clothes shopping excursions; you can look up different brands as you browse and make purchasing decisions accordingly. Over a million users worldwide also use the app to discover alternative ethical and sustainable fashion brands that they might not have ever heard about otherwise. Another app focused on the intersection of sustainability and fashion, ThreadUp, offers users the ability to quickly list used clothing items for sale so others can appreciate them. Who knew thrifting was actually eco-friendly?

If you’re worried about pollutants and irritants in your personal care and beauty products, Think Dirty might just be the app for you. Scan the barcode from any health and beauty product on the store shelf through the app and find out what ingredients are in it so you can determine whether or not to buy/use it.

Of course, there are lots of apps out there to help you reduce your carbon footprint. One of the most engaging is Oroeco. Use this app to track your life activities, such as what you eat, how you get around, etc. and see how much climate impact you have. You can also compete with other users—and earn badges—in friendly competitions to “gamify” your impact reduction efforts. Another favorite is Giki Zero, which provides users with a free and personalized guide—based on answers you provide about your lifestyle—on how to reduce your carbon footprint. 

Saving water is becoming increasingly important in this warming-fueled drought-stricken age we are in now. The Waterprint app allows users to conveniently track their water usage and compete with friends. Users list the products they buy, and the water footprint of each product is then used to calculate their water usage. Competing with friends provides a strong incentive to reduce unnecessary water usage, which helps to improve water sustainability around the world.

Who knew that our smartphones could be such important tools for saving the planet? 


EarthTalk® is produced by Roddy Scheer & Doug Moss for the 501(c)3 nonprofit EarthTalk. See more at To donate, visit Send questions to: