The Best Apps for Reducing Your Carbon Footprint
Your carbon footprint is the sum total of all the greenhouse gases produced by your daily activities. Your home’s footprint might be comprised of the refrigerator, your car, and your power consumption, particularly if you live in a country that uses coal for its electricity grid. Your workplace, particularly if you’re an industrial worker, will have its own footprint, and so on and so forth. It’s actually fairly difficult to measure the entirety of humanity’s carbon output thanks to natural methane and carbon gas emissions, which includes those produced by animals in the wild. A herd of wildebeest, for example, has a significant impact on greenhouse gases in the atmosphere thanks to their near-constant methane emissions, although there’s very little anyone can do about that particular issue. However, you can control your own carbon emissions—what you do with your methane emissions is your business entirely—and therefore your own carbon footprint with the aid of a few handy apps.
Give O2 made its debut at Austin’s South by Southwest festival in 2013 and was met with adoration and appreciation almost immediately. The app works by monitoring your carbon usage based on the transport you take from place to place. It uses your phone’s built-in GPS to track your movements, and will measure your carbon output based on the sort of transport you’re taking from place to place. Best of all, participating retailers will give you discounts and rewards based on your carbon performance with Give O2, so you stand to make substantial savings on your carbon reduction strategy. You’ll be rewarded like Pavlov’s dog for reducing your footprint and doing your part for the planet—and you might even get a bit healthier riding your bike or walking around, which can’t hurt either.
There are three certainties in urban life: death, taxes, and junk mail. Junk mail, like bad pop music or moldy food, is universally hated and utterly useless. On top of all that, junk mail is pretty bad for the environment. That’s why PaperKarma came into being: to put control back into the hands of the consumer and force companies to innovate when it comes to their advertising strategies. Thanks to PaperKarma, junk mail clogging your letterbox might just become a thing of the past. The reduction of your carbon footprint thanks to reduced paper production, and therefore the protection of the only planet in the known universe that is home to any life whatsoever, happens to be a fortunate bonus.
If you can forgive the pun in the app’s name (“Leafully” sounds like “gleefully”—get it?), this innovative little app is actually fairly useful and will save you a decent amount of money in the process. Leafully gets in touch with your local energy provider, monitors your energy consumption, and notifies you whenever you start to consume more energy than you usually do. Energy efficiency is cheap and fantastic for the environment, putting yet another nail in the already overstocked argument that environmentally friendly businesses and
strategies cost too much money. With Leafully, you can reduce not only your carbon footprint, but contribute to the overall reduction of carbon emissions produced by utility providers—a win on both the individual level and on a much larger scale.
PaperKarma might be trying to destroy junk mail once and for all, but nobody’s doing anything about traffic. Everybody hates sitting in gridlocked, borderline-parking-lot level traffic where you remain at a standstill for minutes on end, particularly if it’s stinking hot and you’re surrounded by metal that manages to both reflect and absorb the heat of the sun. Particularly bad gridlock, such as that experienced by Russians living in Moscow after the collapse of the Soviet Union, obliterates a city’s productivity, pollutes the air, and can prevent emergency services from reaching those who need it most. Waze, a crowdsourced app developed by Google for a not-too-shoddy 1.1 billion dollars, is a community-based effort that allows its users to share real-time traffic data so other drivers can avoid patches of gridlock, ensuring that they don’t get worse and saving people time on their morning commute. You can save the planet and avoid traffic at the same time!
This app has a similar goal to Waze (and a pun on par with Leafully), but achieves it through different means. Even though cars can usually take three or four extra passengers, most of us still drive alone to work in the morning. That’s not exactly an efficient use of space or fuel, but it’s a common practice that contributes to the massive carbon footprint carved out by personal car emissions and creating the sort of immobile, hair-tearing traffic that is the stuff of every commuter’s nightmares. If you share your vehicle with several passengers instead, you’re reducing the number of cars on the road, and therefore their carbon emissions and the space they’d otherwise be occupying. For example, if you fit an extra four people into your vehicle every morning, that’s four cars that aren’t on the road doing damage to our atmosphere and clogging up the highway. Carma Carpooling makes it easy for you to find carpoolers in your area. Think of it as a dating app for finding commuters like you who want to reduce traffic and offset their carbon emissions.
This one’s aimed at international travelers and businesspeople in particular. Their frequent flying across vast distances has a measurable impact on the world’s greenhouse gas quotient. By entering data about the conference delegates’ points of departure and arrival, you can let the app tell you what your carbon footprint from the conference will be, the carbon load incurred by your business, and how you can reduce the carbon emissions from your conference. Although there’s very little you can do about the carbon emissions produced by aircraft, which are loaded up to maximum capacity for international flights as a matter of course, you can take minor steps like sharing a cab or a minibus to your accommodation or the conference itself.