An App a Day… / CC BY 2.0

I have a consumption confession. I’ve finally jumped onto the smart-phone bandwagon after years of firmly saying I didn’t need one, didn’t want one, wouldn’t use one. Well, I did need a new phone and I’ve got to admit, I’m pretty hooked. It really is a beautiful piece of tech. Soon I had stumbled my way into the app market.

Sure enough, there, mixed in sporadically with the far more popular but much less useful applications such as the light-saber sound effects and the dunkin’ donut finders, were a few green-living focused, environmentally friendly, eco-apps.

Here is a few examples of self described “eco-apps” that are currently found on the Android Market:

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The Eco Buzz Widget developed by “Get the latest news on climate change, where to buy the coolest organic threads, which car has the least impact on the environment,” etc.

Eco Charger developed by agilesoft resource: Features battery charged notification, high voltage notification, and battery overheat notification.

Shop Green developed by ViralMesh: Helps keep track of all your eco-friendly shopping decisions and the amoundt of CO2 emissions saved by making the green shopping choice.

Carbon Meter also developed by ViralMesh: tracks and logs eco-friendly activities, like running, walking, biking, with the amount of CO2 emissions saved. Also includes recycling center location information. High CO2 saving levels are rewarded with coupons.

Find Green developed by 3rd Whale Media: Finds green and sustainable businesses quickly and easily. (You can read a Chic Ecologist review of the iphone app here.)

Greenpeace Tissue Guide also developed by 3rd Whale Media: Provides info on recycled tissue product brands.

Honestly, I thought there would be more than what I found. I was also rather disappointed with the quality of the available apps. I’m well aware that most smart phone applications are more time-wasting distractions than actually useful tools. But I was optimistic enough to hope there would be at least a few high quality apps that can be useful to a green lifestyle. I’m under the impression that there are more apps available for the iphone, and perhaps the non apple based applications will reach a similar level of popularity in the coming months, but at this point I remain skeptical.

The ones that I did find to be the most useful and relevant weren’t necessarily touted as “eco-friendly” so much as actually useful in an everyday context, for example alternative or public transportation, recipes, and news feeds.

Some of my favorites turned out to be:

OneBusAway developed by Brian Ferris, a grad student at the University of Washington, and Seattle based real-time arrival information for king county metro and other Seattle and Puget Sound area buses.

There are also public transportation apps for major cities like New York, DC, Houston, Paris, Madrid, and London.

Journey Tracker by Mobikats ltd: Record and save your journeys then view them on a map, or your computer with Google Earth.

Bike Shop Locator by Jacky Tu: helps you find bike shops by current location, address, or zipcode.

Vegan Dishes by FunMobility: Provides a selection of vegan recipes.

Soleil Organics by Soleil Mobile, Inc: A guide to organic shopping, providing label term explanations and cost-benefit analysis of certain organic products.

Like most technological trends, the actual value of the majority of the apps out there, even those that call themselves “eco-friendly” are questionable.  However,  I do think there is a lot of potential for the app market to provide really useful tools for green living. I hope we begin to see more solid examples of environmentally useful applications in the coming months.

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