top apps for your environmental conscience

If you don’t have a smart phone, stay with me, okay? I don’t either, but I have an iPod touch & have just started playing with the possibilities for apps. Obviously the first day I had it I downloaded instagram. #Hipster alert.

Then, I heard about the Virtual Water project. I didn’t know it was an app. I just thought the poster was amazing. (I still recommend it.) I was fascinated when I started looking at the numbers. It takes 50 gallons of water to make a 6-ounce glass of wine & only 29 gallons for a can of beer? It takes 221 gallons of water to make a pot of coffee & only 23 gallons for a pot of tea?

Now, I’m not sure yet what to do with this information after I have it. They do explain this on their site:

Virtual water content: The virtual-water content of a product (a commodity, good or service) is the volume of freshwater used to produce the product, measured at the place where the product was actually produced (production-site definition). It refers to the sum of the water use in the various steps of the production chain. The virtual-water content of a product can also be defined as the volume of water that would have been required to produce the product at the place where the product is consumed (consumption-site definition). We recommend to use the production-site definition and to mention it explicitly when the consumption-site definition is used. The adjective ‘virtual’ refers to the fact that most of the water used to produce a product is not contained in the product. The real-water content of products is generally negligible if compared to the virtual-water content.

Which is great. So there’s that. I recommend the app & the poster, & I thought I’d just take the day to give you some more fun things to play with, hopefully touching on a variety of interests. You can take sustainability with you anywhere.

  1. Seafood Watch: Monterey Bay Aquarium put together a great program to help you eat not only sustainably but safely. They have printable pocket guides for every part of the U.S. that they’ve been doing for years. So, whether you want to annual printable or the app, this is the must-have.
  2. My Water Diary: Since we’re still dealing with agua, I wanted to put this one on the list, too. I’d link to their site, but I have no idea what language it’s in. This one is great. Truly. Especially for people like me who love lists & tracking of any kind. Input your water use from all of your daily activities to see how you stack up for the week with this increasingly finite resource.
  3. GoodGuide: This. THIS. Blows my mind. Scan the bar code. Get stats about how the company stacks up in terms of helping health, the environment & society. Their site is great, letting you compare products & find alternatives. Don’t have a smart phone? Check some of the products out the site before shopping & see what switches you can make each week.
  4. Fair Fashion: Berne Declaration put together this app (in several languages, so don’t be startled if it doesn’t come up in English at first). As the app’s page explains, “While many people agonize over what they should wear, only a few consider the conditions under which their clothes were made. Yet the ugly flip-side of the fashion world shows itself in production process: 16-hour work days are the norm in clothes factories, wages consist of a pittance, workers do not have contracts, and in many places worker strikes are brutally suppressed.” They help you find sources of fairly made clothes, so you can feel & look good. Don’t have a smart phone? Try Rank a Brand, where you can compare all kinds of common brands online.
  5. Carbon Tracker: Track all of your emissions with this one by Clear Standards. Set goals, track progress & figure out ways to reduce your CO2.

There you go. I hope you have fun with them & bring sustainability into the endless techie adventures of your life!


About meganbetz

human geography PhD Student at Indiana University; wife, reader, writer, baker, gardener
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2 Responses to top apps for your environmental conscience

  1. thebakeandbrew says:

    I cannot wait to try all of these – thank you for posting about them! I don’t think or pay nearly enough attention to my impact on the world, especially in regard to how much water or food I use…in baking especially! I get the Food Club flour because it’s $0.20 cheaper, instead of maybe planning ahead or researching what better & bulk ingredients I could pick up in Indy or find in Muncie, for example. I love reading your posts, because having a friend “guide” you in a way through being sustainable is much more feasible and encouraging then swimming through the massive amount of information yourself. Anyways! I’m so excited to download #s 2-5 on my phone today to start trying out.

  2. meganbetz says:

    I’m not sure if this is true… but Marsh should have a bulk section somewhere in Muncie. It’s INSANITY how much cheaper flower is in bulk. I find that vanilla & cocoa are the most expensive when I buy based on my morals. Painful, that vanilla. Muncie is a tough place, but if you could find bulk you’d save loads. I get organic wheat pastry flour for less than $3 a pound. Ca-ching! Guilt-free baking. (Now if I didn’t feel bad for the amount of it that I consumed…)

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