Nominate Your Favorite Green App

The smart phone app is exploding in use with over 25 million apps downloaded just on Christmas Day. The Apple App Store is estimated to have shattered all previous records achieving 11 billion app downloads during 2011 and Android achieved 10 billion cumulative app downloads by year-end 2011.

Apps have gone green enabled by the QR code. Using a green app, consumers can take a picture of a product’s QR code on its packaging or, increasingly, in magazine ads and access a range of data on price, nutritional value, NGO assessments and consumer ratings.

One app I use is GoodGuide. It has data on over 50,000 products.

Monterey Bay Aquarium SeaFood Watch is one I use because of the uncertainty over the authenticity of seafood products. A recent Consumer Reports article reported that “Americans spent $80.2 billion on seafood last year… but they aren’t always buying what they think they are. More than one-fifth of 190 pieces of seafood we bought at retail stores and restaurants in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut were mislabeled as different species of fish, incompletely labeled, or misidentified by employees.” The Seafood Watch app provides both a seafood guide and a sushi guide. Monterey Abalone Company is one of Seafood Watch’s best picks and this interview with owner Trevor Fay shows the quality of this app’s analysis.

The Light Bulb Finder is an EPA winner. It “…makes it easy to switch from conventional light bulbs to energy-saving equivalents with the right fit, style and light quality.” The average household wastes $120 per year using energy inefficient light bulbs. This free app helps you save money and get the type of light bulb that provides the amount and quality of lighting that will work best in your various in-home locations.

Since, on average, we spend $75 on a tank of gasoline for a week of driving, the Green Gas Savers is a free app that suggests driving behavior improvements that save money and reduce emissions. My experience driving the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf with similar in-dash systems is that this type of feedback really works without reducing the driving experience.

So what are your favorite green apps? Are they the ones I listed here? Do you have ones we all should hear about?

Post a comment providing the name of your favorite green app with a link to the app and tell us how it is making a difference in your life and the environment. We will tally the comments and provide another post listing the green apps you think are the most helpful.


Bill Roth is the founder of Earth 2017. His book, The Secret Green Sauce, profiles business case studies of best practices for making money going green. His coaching of hundreds of business owners through the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation Green Builds Business program sponsored by Walmart is creating projects that are restoring jobs, the economy and the environment.

Founder of Earth 2017. Author of The Boomer Generation Diet: Lose Weight. Have Fun. Live More that Jen Boynton, Editor in Chief of Triple Pundit , says is "Written in Bill Roth's lovable, relatable tone. A must read for any Boomer who is looking to jumpstart their health and have fun at the same time. I hope my parents read it. "

10 responses

  1. I work for Staples and our mobile app:
    -Allows you to access your Staples Rewards checks: No need to
    print them and carry them to the store
    -Allows you to access your personalized coupons: No need to print or carry them either!
    -Provides store hours and services listed: e.g. No need to drive
    to the store and find out if we
    provide UPS shipping
    -Lets customers see store inventory: Save gas before heading to
    the store
    -Lets you build shopping .lists: Carry your lists with you, no
    need to print them, save more paper

    So the app not only makes it convenient to shop, it cuts down on paper and gas use!

  2. GoodGuide for me is one of the most innovative apps, a European example of this would be Barcoo. These apps are great for information but it’s hard to measure there impact.  An app that has improved charitable donations by leaps and bounds but encourages shoppers to enter stores (bad for the environment if it encourages excess shopping) is ShopKick.  I know it sounds weird but ShopKick started out as Causeworld where shoppers redeemed points for entering stores soley for donations to a favourite non-profit (Now they allow shoppers to redeem points for gifts as well).

    A recent article from fastcompany revealed how many shopkick users versus causeworld users donated their redeemable points to charities, here are the numbers:

    A carbon offsetting project:CauseWorld: 2,133 donations per month
    Shopkick: 2,673 donations per monthA charity to prevent child abuse:CauseWorld: 667 donations per month
    Shopkick: 1,257 donations per monthA breast cancer charity:CauseWorld: 533 donations per monthShopkick: 964 donations per month 

    In short order the company grew four times with the addition of the option redeeming gifts for yourself or a friend.  ShopKick continues to grow and with it a larger and larger group of people willing to redeem points to support charities.  Again I stress that the app could be seen to increase unnecessary spending by getting users into stores, on the other hand if you were planning on heading to the store anyways it provides a new avenue for shoppers to support organizations that wish to make the world more sustainable: in health, environment and socially.

  3. GoodGuide is amazing, it has drastically changed my consumption habits.
    the IViro app from Envirolytics is also great, it helps you do an energy efficiency audit for your home and make improvements in everything from appliances to insulation.

  4. I’ve got to say Scanalyzer – it replaces hardware barcode scanners with an affordable and convenient alternative.  They only run on iOS right now, but I hear that they plan to support other platforms in the future.  You’ve got to try it; it is awesome.

  5. Sprinkler Times is a fantastic green app that promotes water conservation. It is an easy-to-use online
    program and app that calculates run times for sprinkler systems. It is an incredibly user friendly product that can save homeowners about $50-$100 a year on their water bill. What’s better than saving water AND money!

    You can visit the website at
    to learn more about the app, and connect with Sprinkler Times via Facebook (
    and Twitter (@sprinklertimes).

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