by Andy Smith

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Let's admit it, we spend an awful lot of time on our phones, why not use some of that time to help the planet.

Below is a curated list of Android and iPhone apps to help you live a more eco-friendly and sustainable lifestyle.

I will continually be adding to the list so if you think an app is worthy of an entry, let me know in the comments.


1. OLIO

green app eco app olio

App Scope: Global

OLIO connects neighbours so surplus food can be shared, rather than thrown away.

This could be food nearing its sell-by date in local shops, bread from your baker or the groceries left in your fridge before you go on holiday.

I've also given away a chopping board and cat treats using this app, so it's not just for food!

To use OLIO, take a photo of what you want to give away, add a description and when the item is available for pick-up.

To find items take a look at the listings near you and send a direct message to the poster and organise a pickup.

"It's also about small actions leading to a big change."

Between 33-50% of all food produced globally is never eaten 😲 OLIO is one way to start reducing that figure.

Download: OLIO for Android (Free) | iOS (Free)


2. Refill

green app eco app refill

App Scope: UK

Refill is a super simple one. If you run out of water for your reusable water bottle (that you have with you at all times right? 😉) then you can quickly find a place to refill it using this app.

Great if you don't like asking for water from random shop owners.

Here's a fact for ya:

"If just one in ten Brits refilled once a week, we’d have 340 million less plastic bottles a year in circulation!"

Download: Refill for Android (Free) | iOS (Free)


3. Too Good To Go

 
 

App Scope: Europe

Did you know that one third of all food produced is wasted? Well, Too Good To Go is here to change that.

Using the app you see all the places nearby that have food on offer and when you can pick it up. Once you find a place you like you buy a Magic Bag.

Magic Bags are full of food that these places deem as 'waste' but it's actually perfectly edible food that stores and restaurants have to throw out at the end of the day.

Examples include bakeries that have to bake fresh everyday or restaurants that didn’t sell all the food they had prepared.

The catch is that you won’t know exactly what you’re getting until you pick it up.

Download: Too Good to Go for Android (Free) | iOS (Free)


4. Ecosia

Green App and Eco App Ecosia

App Scope: Global

Search the web, plant a tree. That’s the idea behind Ecosia.

They use the profit they earn from search ads to plant trees where they are most needed.

Download the app and start searching, it's as simple as that. You even get a tree counter to see how many trees your searches have planted.

There is a chrome extension to switch your default desktop search engine from Google to Ecosia. Or head to the Ecosia homepage and start searching there.

Don’t be tempted to spend your days randomly clicking on ads. We salute your dedication and this will make Ecosia more money in the short term. But it will ruin their data and make it harder to attract more advertisers in the future.

Use it as you would use a standard search engine and everyone wins.

Download: Ecosia for Android (Free) | iOS (Free)


5. Happy Cow

Green App and Eco App Happy cow

App Scope: Global

Happy Cow helps you find veggie and vegan restaurants, food trucks, cafes, juice bars and more.

Fire up the app and you can see nearby establishments and what they have to offer, along with user reviews, opening hours, contact numbers and directions.

There is a free version of the app with ads, or upgrade to remove them. With the upgrade you also get other benefits like offline functionality and access to all user reviews.

Download: Happy Cow for Android (£3.59 - Free Version Available) | iOS (£3.99 - Free Version Available)


6. Karma

 
 

App Scope: Europe

Karma helps you rescue unsold food that would otherwise be thrown away. Restaurants, cafes and grocery stores post items that are approaching the end of their life and you can pick them up for half price.

Open the app and it will show you food that can be rescued in your local area. You pay through the app and go pick up the items during the instructed time.

The premise is similar to Too Good To Go. But with Karma you can pick specific items rather than a 'goodie bag' filled with random items.

Download: Karma for Android (Free) | iOS (Free)


7. reGAIN

 
 

App Scope: UK

Regain wants you to recycle your old and used clothes, and they give you money off coupons to say thanks. It's the modern day equivalent of the charity shop.

To get your mitts on the discounts you need a minimum of ten items to donate. Package up the items and print off a free shipping label. Then leave the package at a local drop off point.

reGAIN sort through the clothes and recycle what they can. If there is no hope for an item then it is sent to a waste-to-energy plant to produce electricity, some of which will go to generate new clothes - it's the circular economy in action.

Head to the reGAIN website to see the current list of coupon codes on offer.

Download: reGAIN for Android (Free) | iOS (Free)


8. Zipcar

 
 

App Scope: UK, USA and Turkey

Hire cars by the minute with Zipcar. Since we sold our car last year we just about cycle everywhere. When it's a bit too far, bad weather or we have something heavy we need to shift, Zipcar plugs the gap.

They also have a fleet of electric cars, so you don’t have to worry about contributing to air pollution.

To use Zipcar you first have to apply for a membership. To prove your identity you take a picture of yourself with your driving license. It only takes a few hours to get verified.

When you are setup you can use the app to find a nearby vehicle and book it for when you need it. This can be in the next 15 minutes or months in advance.

There are two types of car you can book.

  • Standard - This vehicle has to be used for a round trip journey. You pick it up and drop it back at the where you found it.
  • Flex - If you only need to complete a one-way journey, this is the one to choose. Pick up a car and once you reach your destination park it within the designated 'zipzone'.

Next comes the really cool bit, unlocking the car with your phone! This is done over Bluetooth, once you are in you will find the car keys in the glove box.

Fuel, insurance and other car related charges are included. If the fuel tank is running low they ask that you fill it up ready for the next user. You buy the fuel with the supplied fuel card.

One thing to look out for is parking rules. They can be inconsistent across so make sure to check before ending your trip.

Download: Zipcar for Android (Free to download - paid service) | iOS (Free to download - paid service)


9. Litterati

Green App and Eco App Litterati

App Scope: Global

Litterati is on a mission to create a huge Global Database of Litter and need our help to document the litter we pick up.

After taking a picture of the litter you need to tag it. The app gives you some frequently used tags such as plastic, bottle caps and cigarettes or you can add your own.

When tagging, they suggest following the C.O.M.B taxonomy:

  • Category
  • Object
  • Material
  • Brand

For example if you found a Starbucks coffee cup you would tag the picture with; Category - Coffee, Object - Cup, Material - Paper, Brand - Starbucks.

The more data Litterati have the smarter stuff they can do. Such as using machine learning to recognise the litter in a photograph so it doesn't need to be manually tagged.

But what happens with all this data I hear you ask? Well, Litterati have given some examples of how the data has been used already to effect change:

At an elementary school in California, 5th graders tagged and mapped more than 1,200 pieces of litter on their campus. They learned that a major source of litter came from the straws distributed in their cafeteria. They petitioned their principal to stop buying the straws, and the volume of litter dropped dramatically.

Download: Litterati for Android (Free) | iOS (Free)


10. Freegle

 
 

App Scope: UK

Do you have stuff you don’t need anymore? Freegle will find someone to take it away. If you need something, Freegle will pair you with someone giving it away.

As Freegle puts it, it's online dating for stuff.

To get started, download the app or head to their website. Tell Freegle where you are, what you have/want and give an email address and publish your ad.

To keep things relevant the ad will only be posted to the local Freegle community you reside in.

If a Freegler sees something they like or can help you out they can send you a message and arrange logistics.

There is also a message board where you can post stories about your Freegling activities. Here is a great one that I read on there:

My husband and I work hard to keep as much as possible out of landfill by passing things on that we no longer need, or finding ways to reduce/reuse/recycle.
An interesting recent project saw us take apart a leather settee which was no longer usable. The stuffing went to a follow "Freegler" who made crash mats for her grandchildren to use in the garden.
The leather I am sewing into bags and the wood is being used in the garden. I've met some lovely people through donating and ever hopeful to find something I can make use of. :)

Download: Freegle for Android (Free) | iOS (Free)


Think we have missed a great app? Let me know in the comments. 👇


Andy Smith
Andy Smith

Founder of Reco, a marketplace and community dedicated to find shift from a single-use mindset to a multi-use one. #SingleUseSucks