If you’re an Android user, then you probably know that the Android market is littered with apps for all purposes. Free, paid, ad-supported, all toting some practical usage, and then you have those that do nothing but amuse your fingers while you’re waiting to board at the airport.
And of course, in the market, there are apps for green living. I installed many of these apps, and picked 10 of the most practical apps available that will help you live a little greener. These apps have practical, daily usage for almost all of us, and I’ve rated them with a Green Relativity. Technically, they are all relative to living green, but they did not all get 5 stars. The rating system is to more to demonstrate how practical the app is in living green. They are listed in no particular order, but they are listed with their market link and a QR code for easy download and installation (you will need the Barcode Scanner App to use the QR codes, and if you don’t already have it, you should definitely make it part of your app arsenal).
1. Botanica (Market Link)
This nifty little app helps you live green by providing information about care of your garden. You can have more than one garden. For example, you can separate your vegetable garden from flower bed. It may come in handy too if your thumb is a bright, shiny green, to create different gardens for your potted plants in different rooms of your house or apartment, or make one for your potted herbs sunning in your kitchen windowsill.
The interface is intuitive, and while the plant list that comes with the app is by no means complete, each plant comes with a picture and a list of basic information, which includes the genus and species name. I’ve found it to be more in
formative than the little inserts that come in the potted plant’s soil. There are 10 specifications, planting instructions, requirements and statistics. And, to be thoroughly responsible and warming to my college graduate soul, it even lists its references.
Also, it’s very aesthetically pleasing to the eye, which is something that many useful Android apps fail to have.
Green Relativity: 3 out of 5 stars. If you’re gardening, you’re providing for yourself, saving money on produce and trips to the store, and releasing some delicious oxygen into the atmosphere. Good job!
2. My Recycle List (Market Link)
My Recycle List is an app that finds the closest, relative recycling centers. It’s definitely an attractive app, and very simple to use. You have the option of using GPS to find your location, or you can set a zip code. At first glance it separates recyclables into 9 different materials, but upon clicking ‘Plastic’, it presented 12 more options, differentiating between Plastics #1, #2 and more, as it does with metals (aluminum, ferrous metals, tin or steel cans, etc.) When you click on those more specific options, it gives you a location-based list of recycling centers relative to that material, and when you click on a specific center, it provides the distance from your location to that center, the address, phone number, hours of operation, and all recyclable materials accepted.
The feature that stands out the most for me is the Hazardous and Automotive. These are usually producers of the most toxic materials we use and need to throw away, like automotive oil and anti-freeze. These are especially bad for our environment, in a most direct fashion, because they instantly pollute and harm living creatures.
Green Relativity: 5 out of 5 stars. You’re recycling. You’re awesome.
3. Go Green (Market Link)
This app provides little tidbits of information every time the app loads. At first I thought it wouldn’t be that useful, like who in the year 2011 needs to be told to recycle? Ah, but this app has tips that you may not have thought of on your own. My Tip#2 was “Instead of sending old rugs to the landfill, check with local animal shelters to see if they can use them. Old towels, blankets, and sheets are also appreciated.”
Well, that tugged at my heart strings. I won’t tell you what Tip#3 was, but I assure you it was another unobtrusive food-for-thought directive that I will remember. And if I don’t, this app saves all read tips under a section called “The Green List”. And, after you read tips, you get to level up! Yes, VG geeks! It’s pretty insignificant, but upon opening the app you have a green star that declares you as a Green Newbie, then you move up to Green Friend. We’ll see how high it goes in the coming weeks for me.
Green Relativity: 3 out of 5 stars. The real-time green effects are not so impactful, but if put into action, this app has potential to be a 5 star earner. All depends on you.
4. EcoCharger (Market Link)
I installed this app to see how useful it would be, as the description sold it as a live-green aid.
It’s a very basic, one-page app that just links your audio, vibrate, and repeat notifications options on the app home page. You can turn them on or off. It also tells you what the status of your battery is (charging, not charging, percentage charged, what kind of battery it is, voltage).
Overall, pretty disappointing. This app doesn’t seem to do anything that you couldn’t do yourself in your phone’s settings, however, if the convenience of having an app do it for you helps you, green on.
Green Relativity: 2 out of 5 stars. Sure, the premise is green, use less stuff on your phone to save energy. Do you need this app to do that? Not really.
5. Green Power Free
This app should be called Green Wireless, or Green WiFi, as it focuses on your data streams as your phone is being used throughout the day, and then the night.
It basically presents you a list of options for what your phone should do with wifi/mobile network connections. It emphasizes keeping your connections quiet, but it will periodically turn them on and off. It will disable Wifi if there is no active connection, instead of leaving your phone to constantly look for a connection as it does when you turn it on through the Android OS. It will also do that if the signal is really low. Another name could be Wifi Thrift.
It has settings for Day Mode (and Night Mode in the premium version), and a few more options than discussed above. For someone who uses their Wifi connection on a regular basis on their phone, this app would be handy for your phone to reduce energy lost in trying to find a connection. If you’re constantly online, this may not be the app for you, but if you like to keep your Wifi on just for infrequent going-to your phone to watch a vid or surf the net, this will help maximize your battery life.
Green Relativity: 4 out of 5 stars. This app will impact your battery usage as it micromanages your Wifi connections, but I only recommend for those who consistently use the internet via Wifi/mobile networks. Believe it or not, there are some folks who walk around with mini-computers in their pockets that don’t use their phones for more than Facebook, texting, and phone calls.
6. Green-Driver (Market Link)
Depending on where you live and how prevalent using different forms of fuel is (does everyone your town think that 87, 89, and 90 are the only different kinds of fuel or do they know about natural gas and ethanol?) this app can either be incredibly useful or not at all.
It opens to a maps interface, using your location via GPS (I did not see an option to preset your location via city and state or zip code) and just like starred locations or searches using the Google Maps app, it highlights places you can get certain fuels. It has different icons for the varieties of fuel (a lightning bolt for ELEC) and in the settings you can pick and choose which fuels you’d like it to search for. Some of those options are Biodiesel, Ethanol, and Compressed Natural Gas.
Green Relativity: 3 out of 5 stars. I’d like to give it more for it’s blatant greenness, but its basic function is to locate specialized filling stations. Very handy, sure, but if you’re looking for natural gas you’re already living pretty green, so you get most of the credit for using this one. Overall though, good interface, easy-to-use, and for those who use Ethanol this app is definitely, definitely something worth checking out.
7. FindGreen (Market Link)
Originally 3rdWhale Mobile, and more recently a giant in all things green, this app is powered by GenGreen Digital Media, who networks with a bunch of green/sustainable organizations. The premise behind this app is finding something green in everything you do.
When you Open Dashboard, you see Shop Green, Live Green, Search, Profile and News. Under Live Green, a green piece of advice is shown, and you have the previous and next options available.
Shop Green presents a list of basic categories, ranging from Food and Dining to Event Planning to Babies and Kids, and under each of those another tree is presented for more specific options, and then you choose between Walking, Biking, or Driving, and it will show you what’s around your GPS location using those options.
Overall a very nice app. FindGreen reminds you to think ThinkGreen, and helps you do that by doing all the hard work for you. Anything and everything you want to do before you leave the house, check FindGreen and see if you have a green option. Pretty danged sweet.
Green Relativity: 5 out of 5 stars. If you want to live green, this app will hold your hand, sing you lullabies (think “The 3 R’s” from the Curious George Soundtrack) and make you an eco-hothouse.
8. EcoBuzz (Market Link)
Green news at your fingertips, literally. This isn’t so much an app as it is a widget, it sits on one of your homepages and takes up little space. Upon clicking it maximizes a recent news story that relates to us and the Earth, environmentally or whatever your green poison is. It gives you the options to narrow down the news feed into Living, Planet, Health, and Style and also has that familiar ShareThis icon attached to each news story in case you want to splat your green to your friends and family. Also an option for the refresh rate.
Green Relativity: 1 out of 5 stars. Hey, I know it’s very relative to being green, but as nice as this app is for giving your coffee shop conversation starters or being that Facebook friend that liberally posts liberal news (pun definitely intended) all over your Wall, this app isn’t necessarily going to push you to live more green actively, except for increasing your awareness. Very awesome, all the same.
9. Natural Beauty Recipe (Market Link)
Are my girl parts showing? If they are, I ain’t blushin’. This app caught my eye because for the past few years I’ve transitioned my personal care and household products to those that are good for the environment (the ground, the air, the animals, you and me) and I’m a full believer that what you put in your body and on it is very important for your health and the health of the earth.
This app is unobtrusively ad-supported and very simple, although easy-to-use and simple. It separates recipes by categories like Massage, Nail Care, Sun Burn, and Cleansers.
Cleansers brings up 10 recipes, beginning with Basic Cleaning Cream and ending with Strawberry Cleanser. Clicking on one these recipes brings up the recipe with an ingredient list, directions, and recommended usage.
The appeal of this app is that isn’t overly complicated, the recipes remain pretty basic with much of your household items. Strawberry Cleanser calls for ½ tsp of slippery elm, which I could probably find in the bulk section at my co-op (hey, I live in Washington state, don’t hate) but as I used to live in Florida and would be hard pressed to find that, skip it. Or, google the odd ingredients that crop up here and there and find out the usage of it. If it’s a key ingredient, well then, that’s some feedback for the developer.
Green Relativity: 3 out of 5 stars. Not the most informative app for those who want to switch over the green products, but definitely a good one for a start and a beginner’s course in making some home products (saves money) for your body. Good for going green skin-deep.
10. Project Noah (Market Link)
While Project Noah is by far the most attractive-looking app out of all ten listed here, it’s usage is the least practical for the average person. By average person, I mean those of you who have a job you go to 5 days a week, a commute, and a lifestyle that involves the suburbs.
Not to knock anyone who doesn’t do that, but Project Noah is a great app for those of you who spend a lot of time outside, exploring the wilderness or perhaps just the woods that your house backs onto. It’s an app to keep track of what you find in the great outdoors. There are missions, photo submissions, and data collection options. You can even help researchers collect data on what you find (per project). It’s basically an app to get you off your butt and get you outdoors to get some vitamin D and help the earth. It’s a task oriented app, so if you’re not one to wander outside without reason, this app gives you that reason. Thus it making the list of greening your life via a smartphone application.
I may not be one to hike the hills on the weekends, but it’d sure be a lot more fun for some of us when we can take pictures of funky-looking mushrooms and see other Project Noah users (there’s a big community with this app) identify it.
Green Relativity: 4 out of 5 stars. It gets 4 because it’s pretty, clever, and comes with a community of users. It markets towards a specific group, but the point is, that group can become bigger through using an app like this. It’s the app that keeps on applying. Check it out.