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

If you think an app is worthy of an entry, let me know in the comments.

Use the Quick Links table to jump to a particular app:


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."

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 need a top up 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

Roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tonnes — gets lost or wasted.
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 via an interactive map. Each listing will give you a 'buy before' and 'pick up before' time so make sure you can actually make it to the pick up point before the deadline. Once you have picked your items you can pay through the app. i

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. There are two types of car you can book.

  • Standard - This vehicle has to be used for a round trip journey and can be booked months in advance. 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. Be aware that you can only book these vehicles 15 minutes in advance. 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 the 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 your local Freegle community.

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)


11. Tiptapp

Green App and Eco App Tiptapp

App Scope: Sweden and London

Tiptapp is here to help you move things in and out of your home. You can post two types of ads:

  • Get rid of something - If you just need to remove rubbish from your house then use this option. If it can be recycled make sure to flag it so that the person picking it up is made aware. Also If there is some value in the items you are getting rid of you can post it as a giveaway or charity collection.
  • Get stuff moved or delivered - Use this ad type to find helpers with cars and trailers that can give you a hand to move stuff. This might be some new furniture purchase, building materials or even a second hand bargain you find on TipTapp! The circular economy in action.

The same listing premise works for both ad types:

  1. Take a picture of the things you want rid or to move
  2. Offer what you are willing to pay
  3. Select a helper from the people that reply to your ad
  4. Pay the helper within the app

The big question is, how do Tiptapp make sure that unscrupulous users don’t simply go and flytip the rubbish round the corner?

Before releasing the funds to the helper Tiptree requires them to take a snap of the items at the recycling centre. When they do this through the app, the coordinates for the position and the time for when the recycling is done is saved. So you can rest assured your items are going to the right place.

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


12. Fat Llama

Green App and Eco App Fat llama

App Scope: UK and USA

Fat Llama connects people who need things with people that have those things to lend. Great for when you need something for a few days but don’t need to own it forever.

You can get borrow anything from a lawn mower to a campervan but there does seem to be a particular focus on photography and videography equipment.

Their app is really simple to use. If you have something to lend just take a picture, write a brief description and price your item by the day, week or even year.

If you are looking to borrow, search or browse the app. Once you see something you like message the lender and arrange pick up/drop off.

The best thing about Fat Llama is that insurance, up to £25,000, is included as standard! Just make sure to take a picture/video as evidence of the item working before you hand it over to the borrower. Or else you may find it difficult to make a claim.

Download: Fat Llama for Android (Free) | iOS (Free)


13. Giki Badges

 
 

App Scope: UK

Ever wondered how environmentally friendly the products you buy at the supermarket are?

Giki is a social enterprise that is committed to making it easy to find sustainable, healthy and ethical products.

They have awarded thousands of products various badges based on their eco credentials, which must have taken ages!

For example, badges are awarded to products; packaged in recyclable materials, that have a low carbon footprint and that are organic. The general idea is the more badges a product has, the better.

To discover the Giki badges a product has open the app and scan it's barcode. You can also enter the products name in the search bar. Giki will then tell you how many, and what type of, badges the item has.

The best thing is that they will suggest alternative products that have been awarded more badges. Giving you the option to buy a more sustainable and environmentally friendly option.

Download: Giki Badges for Android (Free) | iOS (Free)


14. Falling Fruit

Green App and Eco App falling fruit

App Scope: Global

You might not notice it, but there are an abundance of foraging opportunities everywhere, even in cities. Falling Fruit is a massive, collaborative map of the urban harvest.

You can access the map for free through a web browser or you can pay for the mobile app.

Zoom in on your location and you will see the foraging opportunities near you as red dots. I've found a plum tree 5 minutes walk away which I'll be checking out come the picking season 😊.

If you come across any items of interest you can add them to the map as well. Choose from a list of plants, give a brief description and drop a marker.

Some people have taken it to the extremes by listing dumpsters as foraging opportunities. I have to say that is it bit far out of my comfort zone but I applaud those that do!

Before you go off and hoover up all free food you can find, make sure you doing it by the book and keep yourself safe. John Rensten the author of Forage London gives some helpful tips, find them here.

Download: Falling Fruit for Android (£3.32) | iOS (£3.99)


15. Love Clean Streets

 
 

App Scope: UK

Love Clean Streets helps you report environmental problems you come across in your local area. Use it to report things such as graffiti, fly tipping and potholes.

If you find something that needs reporting fire up the app and take a picture. The app uses your phones GPS to pin point where you are or you can move it as necessary.

Select a category that best describes the issue, give a brief description of the problem and send it off. The relevant local authority will be notified of the issue and you can then track the progress of the action being taken.

Download: Love Clean Streets for Android (Free) | iOS (Free)


16. Kitche

 
 

App Scope: UK

Kitche is here to assist you in reducing food waste in your own home by keeping track of the ingredients you have in the house.

Open the app, scan the receipt from the supermarket and your items will be added to your virtual pantry within Kitche. You can then add reminders to items to make sure you get notified of food reaching its best before date.

The app also allows you to track the food that you do end up throwing away. Use this to change your habits!

The thing I really love about the app is the smart recipes. Kitche will suggest recipes based on the ingredients you have. This really helps when you have a weird combination of items are nearing their best before date and you don't know what to do with them.

Download: Kitche for Android (Free) | No iOS App


17. PlugShare

Green App and Eco App Plugshare

App Scope: North America and Europe

After the VW diesel emission scandal and increased attention to the damage air pollution is doing to our health, electric cars look set to fill the gap.

The problem is, the range of vehicles at the moment just isn't where it needs to be. PlugShare is here to help reduce that range anxiety by showing you where nearby charging points are.

Globally they have over 150,000 charging stations on the database although they are predominantly located in North America and Europe.

Each charging point is categorised so you know if it's fast charge, has a particular plug type etc. Each point can be rated by users and the app will even tell you if a charging point is currently in use. Saving you a journey when your juice might be low.

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


18. GridCarbon

Green App and Eco App GridCarbon

App Scope: UK

GridCarbon tracks "carbon intensity" as the demand for electricity varies throughout the day. It does this by connecting directly to a data feed from the National Grid which updates every 5 minutes.

Carbon intensity is the quantity of CO2 produce for 1kWh of electricity consumed. This means that you can use the app to defer your use of electricity, like putting the washing on, to off-peak times where the carbon intensity is low. And therefore lower your carbon footprint, cool right?

There are two sections of the app. In portrait mode there is a traffic light indicator to show high/low carbon intensity and how much energy each generation type is currently producing.

Switch the phone to landscape mode and you get two charts; an interactive chart showing energy generation by type and a carbon intensity line graph. Both display data from the last 24 hours.

It's interesting to have a play around and toggle the energy types on and off as well to see where we generate most of our energy from at different points through the day.

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


19. BlaBlaCar

 
 

App Scope: Global

BlaBlaCar is a ridesharing app, part of the so called "Sharing Economy". Need to get from Manchester to London but don’t want to spend £100's on train fares? Give BlaBlaCar a go.

If you are a passenger, create a new account and add a short bio and picture, so people know who they are picking up. Tell BlaBlaCar where you want to leave from and when and where you want to get to.

The app will show you rides which match your criteria, the going rate and how many seats are available. It's unlikely that you will end up getting a perfect match for the pick up and drop off locations you want, but using a traffic light system, the app will indicate how close a match the locations are.

If a suitable ride doesn’t appear when you search, create a ride alert. BlaBlaCar will send you appropriate rides as they are posted.

If you’re a driver it's even simpler. Just say where you will pick up and drop off passengers and when. And wait for riders to book their seats.

One thing to remember is that the idea behind BlaBlaCar is ridesharing. The app isn't designed to earn you money, simply to cover your fuel costs. This means you get little room to edit the rate you can charge for a ride.

One massive benefit of this approach is that your standard car insurance will remain valid, so no worries there.

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


20. JouleBug

 
 

App Scope: Global

If you are reading this then you probably care about the environment and do what you can to reduce your carbon footprint. But it can be hard to get others to buy into it and change their habits.

One way to get people on board is to turn it into a competition. JouleBug gamifies eco-friendly activities by rewarding points for each action a user takes.

The app has dozens of different ways that you can reduce your impact on the environment. For each one there is a short summary and instructions for how to achieve it, along with the number of points you will be awarded.

The app also contextualises the impact your action is having. For example turning off the lights when you leave the room has the same yearly impact as charging a laptop 2,885 times 😲

When a task is completed users tap the "Buzz" button and the points are added to their total. At the same time you can connect your Facebook and Twitter accounts and spread the news of your good deed and show off your eco credentials.

Your profile keeps a summary of the impact you are having and tells you how much CO2 and water you have saved along with the waste you have diverted from landfill.

If you are really in the competitive mood you can join challenges and compete with others to earn the most points.

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


21. Good On You

Green App and Eco App Good On You

App Scope: Global

The global fashion industry has a huge problem with pollution, waste and human rights abuses. Good On You is here to give you the insight you need to make informed choice when buying your clothes.

By choosing ethically you become the solution. Wear the change you want to see.

Sandra, Gordon and the Good On You team.

The Good On You team has rated thousands of clothing, footwear and accessory brands on their impact on labour, the environment and animals. They also look at certifications and accreditation a brand has received along with the public statements they have made and their general transparency.

The rating is distilled into a 5 star system ranging from companies that are "Great" to those that should be "Avoided".

The best thing is that if you find your favourite brand is on the lower end of the scale they suggest other brands that match your style, budget and ethical preferences.

Download: Good On You for Android (Free) | iOS (Free)


22. NatureHub

Green App and Eco App NatureHub

App Scope: USA and Canada currently, with plans to expand to Europe and Asia

NatureHub is a community-driven platform that aims to help people live healthier and more sustainable lives by connecting them with green, socially responsible, local businesses around them. You can discover all sorts of ethical and sustainable small businesses ranging from zero-waste stores to yoga studios.

NatureHub also has a lively forum so people can find the help they need to transition to a healthy, sustainable lifestyle and talk to a diverse community of conscious consumers.

You can find healthy and diet-friendly recipes and sustainable DIYs and add your own tutorials, too. With a big focus on the community, NatureHub provides users with all tools to create their own blog or vlog on the platform to encourage others to be the change they wish to see.

Later this year NatureHub planning to launch a website version of the app with an integrated marketplace so keep an eye out for that.

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


23. Swapsy

Green App and Eco App Swapsy

App Scope: UK

The best way to describe Swapsy is... Tinder for clothes. A great alternative to the charity shop for those items that you have fallen out of love with but still have value.

Take a picture of the item of clothing you want to swap and other users swipe right if they love it or left if they want to pass. You do the same and if there's a match you can start chatting to arrange the swap.

The normal safety precautions apply here, it's probably best to arrange a public meeting place where there will be other people around. After the swap you can leave a rating to help out other users.

It's a simple and straightforward idea executed really well. After creating an account you are presented with a slick interface. There is a profile area where you can add a picture and start uploading your items. A browse section where you do your swiping, they also provide a filter so you can refine what you type of clothes you are swiping through. Finally a chat area which keeps all your matches, conversation and reviews in one place.

Give it a go and get swapping today!

Download: Swapsy 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