These days, “going green” is all the rage. So it should be no surprise to anyone that “green” apps for the iPhone are, ahem, sprouting up all over.
I wonder though, with green-ness being such a trendy topic, are some developers just using the term as marketing? I gathered up the greenest apps I could find for my iPhone to see how much they might help me save the planet — and to see if they are true to the cause. The following are my findings.
I’m not the New Age, environmentally conscious type. Don’t get me wrong, I try to do the right things, but I’m not immersed in the movement, so to speak. But it’s my assumption that knowing how to do good for the environment is a combination of common sense and remembering the lessons taught on “Sesame Street.” In case you missed out on one or both of these key elements, the App Store carries a few free apps that give you tips for taking better care of the world around you.
- Go Green (free)
Displays a tip each time you launch it. That’s it. I came across a useful tip or two that I hadn’t considered before.
- Green Tips (free)
Displays a tip at launch. Hit the refresh button for more tips (though there are not many to cycle through). Email them off if you find them to be especially helpful — I didn’t.
- The Green Lemur (free)
By far the most full-featured of these three. Search, add tips to favorites, or browse by category. I did find some interesting ideas here as well.
What does your carbon footprint look like? How can you whittle down your personal impact on the environment, and maybe even put some extra green in your pocket at the same time? Glad you asked! While the following apps each have their own focus, each of them can help you figure out an answer to these questions. The best part is that if you truly give them a chance, you could start saving yourself some money while also lessening your impact on the environment.
- MeterRead ($2.99)
Somewhat manual in usage (but then, no one said saving the planet would be easy!), use MeterRead to log your electric meter’s reading. You can log your readings and use them to predict your electrical consumption, and thus, your upcoming bill. Try to be more efficient, and maybe the next time you check the meter, your readings will hit below the projected usage. (More info on their site.)
- greenMeter ($5.99)
My favorite of the bunch. Uses the accelerometer to determine the drag and resistance of your car/driving habits in real time. There are several usage meters to monitor, though real-time MPG has been my favorite. Really helps tune your driving for better efficiencies and fewer pointless emissions. (More info on their site.)
- shopgreen (free)
By title, this doesn’t sound like it fits here, but it does. To use the app, just answer some questions about how you maintain your life. Answers that are good for the environment are tallied (like air-drying your clothes, or changing the furnace air filter), and the amount of CO2 you’ve saved is calculated. As a bonus, the CO2 savings gets you discounts at local, participating retailers for your efforts.
Shop Till You Drop
Shopping is shopping. If these weren’t free, I’d accuse them of capitalizing on the eco-friendly iPhone users. But they’re really just apps that help you find relevant retail locations nearby. I suppose if you used them to plan your route ahead of time, you’d put out fewer emissions driving back and forth.
- 3rdWhale (free)
Much like other location-aware shopping apps (and dare I say, Google Maps?) 3rdWhale finds you businesses nearby (select walking, biking, or driving distances). So what makes it green? The resulting businesses are supposedly eco-friendly, allowing you to patronize those taking care of the world around us.
- Yowza! (free)
Not yet out, Yowza! presents one of the more interesting ideas of the bunch. Also location aware, it brings up coupons for retailers nearby. So not only could it save you some cash, but it’s claim is that you can use the digital coupon right on your phone’s screen, rather than printing more paper that will just get tossed out.
In my experience, I wouldn’t say any of these are playing the “green” card for profit — they are all legitimately taking their own shot at saving the environment. Despite some being far less useful than others, (your mileage may vary, of course) their cause is still noble. If you’re thinking it’s time to give something back to Mother Earth, it can’t hurt to give any of these apps a try.
And of course, if you’ve got the goods on a green app that I missed here that’s made a difference for you, please share!