By Renee Nat
Making time to consider the environment in your daily schedule isn’t always easy. Sometimes it’s just simpler and less time consuming to ignore your better judgment and throw that tuna can in the garbage or pick-up that cheap, drugstore lip gloss.
Luckily, 21st century technology can help ease your way into better, environmentally conscious habits. A number of smartphone apps have been designed to inform and advise overwhelmed consumers who are looking to make smarter choices.
We’ve picked our top 5 eco apps that we think are truly are changing the way we buy and think when it comes to beauty products, clothes and sustainable living.
5 Essential Eco-friendly Apps
What toxins are lurking on your bathroom shelf? This app encourages you to start scanning barcodes and discover for yourself how many harmful ingredients are hidden in your beauty products. Think Dirty rates products from one to ten, with ten representing those with serious long-term health impacts. It also breaks down items by ingredient, listing health risks thanks to sources like the David Suzuki Group and the Environmental Working Group.
A quick search of few of my skincare products made for some unpleasant revelations. For instance, I was shocked to learn my Burt’s Bees Replenishing Lip Balm with Pomegranate Oil scored an 8. Not exactly what I was expecting from the self-professed natural brand. It turns out two chemical ingredients linked to the lip balm’s fragrance were the problem. My Satsuma Body Butter from The Body Shop scored a 10 due to the fact that it contains a known hormone carcinogen. Needless to say, after reading the lists of nasty ingredients I am ready to make some changes. The nice part is that ‘Think Dirty’ helps you with that too: after evaluating your product, it offers a list of more eco-friendly alternatives. There are just over 14,000 products listed as part of the app’s database, and while it may not be all encompassing, you’re also invited to submit new products to be rated.
Making of Making
Not unlike the overwhelming list of ingredients in beauty products, it’s becoming become increasingly difficult to distinguish what your clothes are made of. Personally, I can’t tell you what Nylon 6 is, let alone understand its environmental impact. That’s where ‘Making of Making’ comes in handy.
Created by Nike, it provides an inclusive list of materials and offers an interactive way to learn about the environmental impact of different fabrics. It evaluates the sustainability of a product thanks to indicators that score and rank water, energy and chemical use in production. It also looks at things like the level waste created and the ability of a material to be recycled. While originally created to inspire designers to think more critically about their garment production, it’s a useful tool for consumers to educate themselves about how clothes impact the ecosystem. Yes, the app is made by Nike; a brand with a pretty dark history when it comes to it’s labour and supply chain practices, but ‘Making of Making’ is a step in the right direction towards encouraging more transparency from brands, which ultimately helps create better informed buyers.
An important part of a healthy beauty regime is knowing what you’re putting in your body. In recent years, there’s been a push for more organic, regionally grown food. Looking locally for your dinner ingredients often has the benefit of reducing your pesticide intake as well as eliminating the pollution caused by packaging and transporting products around the world. Locavore uses your location to help you find farms, farmer’s markets and local sellers near you. It also has a feature that explains what foods are in season, accompanied by a few recipes. There’s a social aspect to the app that lets you connect and share your favourite places with the people in your city or town.
This app makes it impossible to find an excuse not to recycle. Can’t figure out what to do with used hair colouring kits? Batteries? Or coffee grinds? iRecycle tell you where to go and what to do. For example, I needed to get rid of my old computer speakers and the app quickly provided me with the phone number, address and list of accepted materials of a few different locations nearby where I could donate or recycle them. For things like hair spray aerosol cans or hair dye, the app advised me to head for my local household hazardous waste drop-off centre. On occasion, unable to find somewhere close by, the app would suggest a service in a different country. Clearly, jumping in a car and driving for hundreds of kilometers is not an eco-friendly option. So while I may not always be able to recycle all of my garbage, this handy app is a reminder that, in most cases, it can and should be done.
You may have tried saving water by turning off the tap while you brush your teeth or taking shorter showers, but what about by changing what you eat? It takes 84 galleons of water to get 1 pound of apples to the grocery store aisle when considering cultivation, collection and delivery of the fruit. ‘Waterprint’ teaches you about your real ‘water footprint’ and provides fascinating factoids about individual water use in categories such as food, beverages, products and household items. This includes a few fashion staples. Warning: your blue jeans require nearly 2,900 gallons of water! The app determines the hidden costs of water and by laying it out in a convenient way that really makes an impact.