Grist’s guide to green iPhone apps

Environment Friendly Living

iphone with earth

Wondering what brand of toothpaste is the most eco-friendly? There’s an app for that.

Need to know which species of fish on the menu were caught sustainably? There’s an app for that.

Long to plant a tree with every swish of your PhoneSaber? There’s not an app for that … yet. But check out the apps that plant trees — digital and otherwise — that are already available.

Contrary to the rest of the going-green retail world, iTunes doesn’t have a “green” category in its app store (For better? For worse? Can’t decide….). And search for “green” in the iTunes store and the first app that appears is “BreakMeter — the Golf Green Reader.” Hmmm … that’s not

quite

what I meant.

Fear not this categorical inconvenience, dear Grist reader, we have examined the 50+ carbon calculators, shopping guides, mileage trackers, and more of the green iPhone world and offer some recommendations on where to best spend your App store dollars.


How our guide to green iPhone apps works

:

Shopping

3rdWhaleMobile

3rdWhale Mobile

: This app uses GPS to find green restaurants, stores, and travel destinations in 100 cities in the U.S. and Canada, and displays results on a map with directions.   No iPhone? 3rd whale is working on Android and Blackberry phones.

Free

2 stars

iTunes

GoodGuide

GoodGuide

: Use this app to find out what’s in

75,000 common household products

. No iPhone? Check out

goodguide.com

.

Free

2.5 stars

iTunes

Go Organic!

Go Organic

!: This app finds organic grocery stores and Earth Day events near you.

Free

1.5 stars

iTunes

Gorgeously Green Survival Guide

Gorgeously Green Survival Guide

: Want to know the dirt on your makeup before you buy it? This app suggests chemicals to avoid in makeup and sunscreens and gives tips on food and product labels.

$0.99

5 stars

iTunes

greenopia

Greenopia

: This Los Angeles-specific app boasts 1,000+ searchable and map-able listings of green businesses, restaurants and services. More U.S. cities to come later in 2009.

Free

4 stars

iTunes

Greenpeace Tissue Guide

Greenpeace Tissue Guide

: Research brands of consumer paper products to find the greenest tissues, paper towels, and toilet paper.

Free

3.5 stars

iTunes

shopgreen

shopgreen

: This app is more than just a shopping tool. Enter information about your green habits and the app will connect that information with promotions from local businesses. No iPhone?

shopgreen

is available on other mobile platforms.

$0.99

2.5 stars

iTunes


If you can only download one

: Get the GoodGuide.  Reviewers praise the level of detail in the GoodGuide database as well as its ease of use.

Shopping,

Food

,

Transportation

,

Energy Monitoring

,

Recycling

,

Business and Activism

,

Entertainment

,

News

, and

Green Living Tips

.

Food

DirtyProduce

DirtyProduce

:

Environmental Working Group

brought its lists of the most and least pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables to the mobile world.

Free

3 stars

iTunes

Green Sushi Selector

Green Sushi Selector

: Can’t remember which types of seafood is safe to order at your favorite sushi joint? Use this app, using either the English or Japanese names for fish species, to see how the fish was caught.

$0.99

no rating

iTunes

iLocavore

iLocavore

: Use this app to find locally grown food in your area.

Free

1.5 stars

iTunes

Seafood Watch

Seafood Guide

: Recommended by

AppCraver

, this app lists most commercially-sold fish by region (North America only) and rates those fish for sustainability. Brought to you by the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the app may be fishy, but the info is certainly not.

Free

3 stars

iTunes

What's Fresh

What’s Fresh

: Anywhere, anytime, you too can learn what fruits and vegetables are in season. This app also maps seasonable produce across the U.S.

$1.99

3 stars

iTunes

Whole Foods Market recipes

Whole Foods Market recipes

: With this app a Whole Foods recipe is never far from your fingertips. Search by ingredient, course, or special diet, and use the locator to find your nearest Whole Foods store. FYI: It was an app store favorite in June.

Free

4 stars

iTunes


If you can only download one

: Get the Seafood Guide.  The info comes from a reputable source and users appreciate being able to look up both the English and Japanese names for sushi.


Shopping

, Food,

Transportation

,

Energy Monitoring

,

Recycling

,

Business and Activism

,

Entertainment

,

News

, and

Green Living Tips

.

Transportation


Transit

iTrans

iTrans

: Find maps, schedules, and service advisories for major U.S. cities with this app-store favorite.

$3.99

4 stars

iTunes

iTransitBuddy

iTransitBuddy

: This app provides train maps and schedules for multiple U.S. cities.

$4.99

3 stars

iTunes

thenexttrain

theNextTrain

: View train departure times from any station in nine U.S. transit systems. Individual apps are available for each city.

$3.99-4.99

Go to

theNextTrain website

to find city-specific apps.

UniBus

UniBus

: Using Google transit data, this app estimates arrival times of buses and trains for 20+ U.S. cities.

$1.99

2 stars

iTunes

Search the iTunes app store for transit apps specific to almost every major American and international city. (Seattle? Try

Seattle Bus

. Bangkok? Try

BKK Transit

. State College, Pa.? Try

CATA bus

. You get the idea.)


Bicycles

Bike Your Drive

Bike Your Drive

: This app doubles a basic cyclocomputer and carbon calculator. Instantly compute your average speed and elapsed time on the bike as well as how many calories you’ve burned and lbs of CO2 emissions offset. You can save multiple routes and geotag photos of landmarks.

Free

3 stars

iTunes


Cars

Car Care

Car Care

: Keep track of the fuel economy, carbon footprint, and maintenance schedule for multiple vehicles.

$4.99

3.5 stars

iTunes

Carbon Footprint

Carbon Footprint

: Like other fuel economy calculators, this app records fuel economy, costs, and consumption for multiple vehicles.  This one also shows how you compare to the average American.

$0.99

2.5 stars

iTunes

Carticipate

Carticipate

: Carpool to work? This app facilitates carpools around the world.  Enter your desired destination and departure time, and the app will find available options. No iPhone? Try the

facebook app

.

Free

2.5 stars

iTunes

FuelGauge

FuelGauge

: Designed for the mileage nerd, FuelGauge emphasizes data. Track fuel efficiency in different units (English or metric) and over time (short- and long-term trends), calculate fuel costs in different currencies, and analyze fuel consumption for different vehicles.

$0.99

2.5 stars

iTunes

GasHog

GasHog

: Like FuelGauge, GasHog is all about the data.  Track fuel economy, costs, and consumption trends for different vehicles.  This app also offers tips for more fuel-efficient driving.

$0.99

3.5 stars

iTunes

greenMeter

greenMeter

: Like the other mileage apps, greenMeter uses the iPhone accelerometer to measure fuel consumption, efficiency, and costs.  However, this app includes more information on your car’s carbon footprint and provides detailed graphs of fuel consumption. The folks at the

Living Green Channel

and the

New York Times


Green Inc. blog

praised this app.

$5.99

3 stars

iTunes

Green Gas Saver

Green Gas Saver

: This app uses the iPhone’s internal accelerometer to monitor your fuel efficiency. It provides specific feedback on efficient cornering and accelerating as well as a green driving score (note to developers: the market is saturated, find something else for which to use the accelerometer).

Free

2 stars

iTunes

Traffic

Traffic

: Using Google traffic feeds, this app maps traffic congestion around your location.  Avoid idling in traffic and emitting greenhouse gasses by checking the traffic sitch before you drive.

$1.99

2 stars

iTunes


If you can only download one

: Because transit apps are so specific to the transit systems (or lack thereof) of your locale, get greenMeter. Reviewers like the detailed graphs of fuel consumption statistics.


Shopping

,

Food

, Transportation,

Energy Monitoring

,

Recycling

,

Business and Activism

,

Entertainment

,

News

, and

Green Living Tips

.

Energy Monitoring

CarbonCatcher

CarbonCatcher

: If you can get past the background image of a polar bear hovering over the Earth and collecting CO2 molecules with a net, this app could help you offset your food-miles. Use this app to purchase carbon credits via PayPal and then count them toward your daily meals.

Free

2 stars

iTunes

Carbon Calc

Carbon Calc

: This app finds your carbon footprint by combining the toll from your annual air and automobile travel with your home energy consumption.  Use that total to compare your carbon contribution with that of the average American (23 tons!?) and the average European (Don’t ask.  It will only make you feel guilty). Then, after you’ve just given yourself a world class guilt trip, the app offers the opportunity to purchase carbon offsets via PayPal.

Free

3 stars

iTunes

Carbon Tracker

Carbon Tracker

: Track your annual carbon footprint for travel with this app.  Features include: monthly carbon goals and actual emissions charts based on travel events.

Free

2.5 stars

iTunes

GreenYou

GreenYou

: Calculate your carbon footprint with this app by entering your annual automobile travel, transit use, and household water and energy consumption.  After you calculate the carbon damage, the app provides tips to reduce that footprint. Biggest drawback: this app overlooked air miles.

$0.99

no rating

iTunes

Green Calculator

Green Calculator

: This app records your carbon emissions by adding average carbon values for your lifestyle choices (i.e. how much you air condition your home) and your carbon-spewing events (i.e. a flight from New York to Seattle). There is also a free

Lite version

.

$1.99

no rating

iTunes

Global Warming Personal Calculator

Global Warming Personal Calculator

: The developers for this app didn’t waste money on frivolous graphics, but what the GWPC lacks in fashion it makes up in function.  Using country specific estimates, it calculates individual carbon footprints based on your given automobile and air travel, household heat consumption, and electricity usage.

$0.99

no rating

iTunes

iCarbon

iCarbon

: The complete opposite of the GWPC, this app is all about style.  It adds home energy usage and flight miles to calculate your carbon footprint and completely overlooks automobile travel (yikes!). But it does feature a pretty rockin’ picture of coal on the landing screen.

Free

2.5 stars

iTunes

MeterRead

MeterRead

: Use this app to monitor your energy consumption via your electric meter. Simply synch your meter with the app’s digital one and the app will estimate your month’s energy consumption on an ongoing basis.

$2.99

3 stars

iTunes

MyCarbon

MyCarbon

: Like the other carbon calculators, this app calculates tons of emitted CO2 for your gasoline, energy, and utilities consumption. Unique to this app, it shows a tracker of your month-to-month carbon emissions displayed over a soothing picture of blades of grass.

Free

2.5 stars

iTunes

Twavel

Twavel

: Carbon footprint + social network = Twavel. The app has a carbon calculator dedicated to calculating travel-related CO2 emissions and a social network so you can boast about your CO2 reductions to fellow Twavellers (don’t we have enough social networks already?). There is also a gratuitously cutesy insect icon involved that’s supposed to help teach kids about carbon.

Free

2.5 stars

iTunes


If you can only download one

: Get Carbon Calc.  Though the option to purchase carbon offsets is kitschy, reviewers like the organization of the app and the opportunity to compare their footprints to those of average U.S. and E.U. citizens.


Shopping

,

Food

,

Transportation

, Energy Monitoring,

Recycling

,

Business and Activism

,

Entertainment

,

News

, and

Green Living Tips

.

Recycling

EcoFinder

EcoFinder

: Live in San Francisco? Want to recycle? This app, brought to you by a partnership of

San Francisco’s Department of the Environment

with web developer Haku Wale, can tell you what, where, and how to recycle in the city of San Francisco.

Free

3 stars

iTunes

iRecycle

iRecycle

: Find recycling and disposal locations across the country with this app from recycling nonprofit

Earth911

.  Search by item or location to find 100,000 municipal and private drop-off sites.

Free

3.5 stars

iTunes

Local Reuse

Local Reuse

: Don’t throw it away, give it away.  This app connects otherwise landfill-destined reusable items with people who want the ultimate free bargain. Enter your zip code to see what’s available in your area.

Free

2 stars

iTunes

Plastic Recycler

Plastic Recycler

: This app essentially replaces the note on your fridge reminding you what plastics you can recycle, but it doesn’t do much more than that. To use this app:

you

find out your local recycling policies for plastics, then

you

enter them into the app by pressing the icons for the seven types of recyclable plastic, then

you

lock the app.

Free

2.5 stars

iTunes


If you can only download one

: Assuming most readers don’t live in San Francisco, get iRecycle.  Reviewers like that you can search for recycling locations across the country — but check the website first to see if your city is served by the app.


Shopping

,

Food

,

Transportation

,

Energy Monitoring

, Recycling,

Business and Activism

,

Entertainment

,

News

, and

Green Living Tips

.

Business and Activism


Business

ACTprinter

ACTPrinter

: Mac users can avoid paper entirely with this

AppCraver-recommended

app. Download this app and the free Mac OS X-supported (sorry PCs) PDF printer for iPhone, and you will be forever free from extraneous bits of paper like boarding passes, recipes, movie tickets, etc.

$0.99

3 stars

iTunes

GreenCard

GreenCard

: Share business cards without exchanging cardstock. This app sends a digital business card to your iPhone contacts. If you modify your card, all past recipients will automatically receive the update.

Free

2 stars

iTunes


Activism

A Real Tree

A Real Tree

: Plant a tree in one of 12 deforestation-plagued countries when you buy this app.  Endorsed by the United Nations Environment Program, A Real Tree has partnered with Sustainable Harvest International and Trees For The Future to plant trees that contribute to local economies.

$0.99

4 stars

iTunes

iPhorest

iPhorest

: Similar to A Real Tree, this app is another buy-a-digital-tree-plant-a-real-tree kind of app.  Differences: The Conservation Fund does the tree-planting, which will start in wildlife habitats in the American Gulf Coast; and you can interact more with the iPhorest tree, for instance, by shaking your iPhone to simulate a storm.

$4.99

2.5 stars

iTunes


If you can only download one

: Get A Real Tree. Reviewers like that it only costs $1, but still plants a tree in a country plagued by deforestation.


Shopping

,

Food

,

Transportation

,

Energy Monitoring

,

Recycling

, Business and Activism,

Entertainment

,

News

, and

Green Living Tips

.

Entertainment

ECOcal

ECOcal

: Some people actually know when geese will begin to molt or what the best time is to spot Orion’s belt (January), but for those not in the know there is an app that keeps a schedule of natural phenomena.  ECOcal is a visual calendar of Earth’s natural cycles paired with a

Gregorian calendar

. When do bees start to buzz around? Download the app to find out.

$3.99

3.5 stars

iTunes

FlyToMap

FlyToMap

: View maps of U.S. National Parks and waterways with this series of apps from cartographer FlyToMap.  Park maps contain trail maps from the National Park Service as well as lakes, rivers, and points of interest.  Water maps contain nautical charts and depth contours.

$0.99-$2.99

see

FlyToMap website

to download individual apps.

Google Earth

Google Earth

: Want to gaze at melting glaciers while sitting in traffic in Los Angeles? Download the mobile app of the much lauded Google program.

Free

3.5 stars

iTunes

GreenMachine

GreenMachine

: To all recycling nerds who still regret downcycling their original

Game Boys

, GreenMachine is the app for you. This game combines Tetris with sorting recyclables for all your procrastination needs.

$0.99

no rating

iTunes

Green Energy Now

Green Energy Now

: Essentially a green trivia bank, this app features an assortment of random green facts, a news reader, a green tip generator, and a green trivia quiz — perfect preparation for green trivia night at your local watering-hole.

$0.99

3 stars

iTunes

Green Light

Green Light: Read by the light of a glowing CFL with this flashlight app.

$0.99

3 stars

iTunes

Green Thumb

Green Thumb

: Like gardening? Competitive gardening? Then you probably don’t waste too much time playing games on your iPhone, but for those minutes between mulching and watering this app presents 60+ gardening-themed puzzles.

$2.99

5 stars

iTunes

Green Triangle

Green Triangle

: Concerned about the environmental impacts of the percussive musical instrument industry? Forgo the real triangle for the iPhone app that chimes with a mere shake of the wrist. Need a full band? Get the maracas, the bongos, and, yes, the cowbell.

$0.99

3 stars

iTunes

iPlanet

iPlanet!

: For those who subscribe to social networks for the sake of being in social networks, the developers of iPhorest have created a network to turn the world green — digitally.  Every user who downloads this app adds a pinprick of green light to a digital globe.

Free

3 stars

iTunes

WhaleSong

WhaleSong Project

: Stream the songs of humpback whales with this

AppCraver-recommended

app.

$1.99

3 stars

iTunes


If you can only download one

: Get Google Earth.  Reviewers like that it’s exactly the same as the computer program, and beyond the voyeuristic entertainment value, you can use it to get directions and check traffic.


Shopping

,

Food

,

Transportation

,

Energy Monitoring

,

Recycling

,

Business and Activism

, Entertainment,

News

, and

Green Living Tips

.

News

GreenSpot

GreenSpot

: Follow the latest environmental headlines from sources like the

New York Times

, the Associated Press, and Yahoo! News with this app’s topic-specific feeds. If you like its taste in news, the app also hosts a podcast.

$1.99

3 stars

iTunes

The Green Brief

The Green Brief

: This app is essentially a collection of green RSS feeds plus a green living tips generator.  The news stream consists of headlines with summaries, but they don’t reliably include links to the full-stories.

$2.99

no rating

iTunes

Green News Reader

Green News Reader

: Use this app to aggregate green news feeds from

National Geographic

, the Environment News Network, GreenBiz.com, and other green sites.

$0.99

3 stars

iTunes

GreenTechnology

GreenTechnology

: Tailor your news with this app that specializes in aggregating green-technology news.

$4.99

no rating

iTunes

iGreen

iGreen

: With a focus on syndicating blog feeds, this app joins the green-news aggregator fray.  Follow Al Gore’s blog, CNET’s green tech feed, and CleanTech.com with this app.

$0.99

3 stars

iTunes

iNewz Green

iNewz Green

: Follow topic-specific feeds that draw from multiple sources like

TheDailyGreen

, Planet Green, and

Popular Science

. Share articles with the integrated email, Twitter, and Del.icio.us features, and read articles in offline mode.

$0.99

no rating

iTunes

Mission Zero

Mission Zero

: This

AppCraver-recommended

app aggregates climate and energy news from all over the web into topic-specific feeds for your iPhone.  Sites like

TheDailyGreen

contribute to food news and TNR’s

The Vine

to politics, but beware of sources like

jpmorganclimatecare.com

— not exactly known for its muckraking climate news.

Free

2.5 stars

iTunes


If you can only download one

: Get the GreenSpot.  Reviewers like the news sources and podcast.


Shopping

,

Food

,

Transportation

,

Energy Monitoring

,

Recycling

,

Business and Activism

,

Entertainment

, News, and

Green Living Tips

.

Green Living Tips

Get Green

Get Green

: Get a tip a day with this app. The tips seem informative — the example in iTunes explains why balancing coffee grounds with dried grass in your compost will offset the nitrogen in the coffee. Plus, a seasonal filter prevents suggestions for a greener Halloween from popping up in April.

$0.99

3 stars

iTunes

Go Green

Go Green

: Every time this app opens, you will be greeted with a new green living tip.  While beneficial in theory, some of the tips ring hollow — the next time you travel, consider the bus? Boring. Beware: ads appear in the app.

Free

3 stars

iTunes

Green Book

The Green Book

: A

New York Times

bestseller in app form, The Green Book dispenses the tips and advice of the book of the same name. The app also includes celebrity anecdotes from the likes of Cameron Diaz and Will Ferrell.

$5.99

3.5 stars

iTunes

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