10 Cool iPhone Apps for Environmentalists

Just about everyone I know has one of these iPhone things.  I played around my nephews the other day and was amazed at all the colorful, useless apps that he had on the thing.  I think there were a dozen “flashlight” apps alone.

But the iPhone really does have some legitimate apps out there for those of us that are a bit green conscious.  These represent to me the most practical of the bunch.  Ones that you wont just play with a few times and put aside, but apps that you might find yourself using day after day in your quest to live a more green life.

1) The Green Meter An iPhone app that “computes your vehicle’s power and fuel usage characteristics and evaluates your driving to increase efficiency, reduce fuel consumption and cost, and lower your environmental impact.” Pretty impressive. The app uses the iPhone’s accelerometer data combined with user supplied info about the vehicle to provide a real time picture of your fuel consumption and environmental emissions. $5.99

2) iRecycle is an application from our friends at Earth911.com. Simple but essential, you input what you are looking to recycle, and it not only tells you were to go, it also shows a map and gives you directions based on your current location. Free

3) GoodGuide is an app that: “Provides iPhone users access to the world’s largest and most reliable source of information on the health, environmental and social performance of everyday products and companies. That’s free, easy, mobile access to data on over 70,000 products — from shampoo to household cleaners.” Free

4) Bike Your Drive is a bike app that records GPS info, calories burned, gas saved and CO2 offset. This REI created iPhone application plots out a map of the distance you cover on a bike and even geo-tags photos you take on the way, so you can see where they were taken. It also allows you to share the details of your bike trip. Free

5) GreenSpot Available in  a free (ad supported) version, or a pay version for $1.99 GreenSpot delivers green oriented news from major news feeds directly to your iPhone. $1.99

6) Craigsphone Although not strictly an environmental app, buying used or even checking the free section of Craigslist is a great way to help the environment. You save space in the landfill, and you save the environmental impact associated with polluting. If you are doing home repair or remodeling check out the materials section. Often builders will have leftover supplies or fixtures removed from another house at a fraction of the cost of new. Craigsphone gives you the local craigslist and can dial the numbers for you. Free

7) Find Green provides a local, GPS based guide to green business in your immediate area. In addition, it lets the user add, rate and review their own favorite green business. It’s like a Yelp! for green businesses, and best of all, it’s free.

8 ) Uni-Bus provides bus routes, schedules and arrival times for many major cities using the google transit feed.  The app maps out bus stops and allows you to save favorite bus stops.  $1.99

9) Traffic gives real time traffic reports based on your location. By avoiding traffic jams and slowdowns, you can save gas and improve air quality.  The app allows you to view data in list format, or on a map.  $1.99

10) Green card No, this doesn’t have anything to do with immigration.  I have tons of business cards laying around my house that are now useless because an address, a phone number, or an email address changed.  Greencard allows you to send your business card electronically to all you contacts.  And if you change an email or phone number, all of those people holding your electronic card get an update within minutes.  Nothing goes to the landfill, no extra trees are harmed.  And it’s free.

Do you have a favorite iPhone app about the environment that we didn’t cover? Leave a comment and tell us about it! Be sure to use the exact name, so that people can find it on iTunes.

ront October 22, 2009 at 3:44 pm

I don’t know if it really fits in the category but I’ve been using at app called NeuroMobile to reduce my number of trips by car. It’s slick app that allows me to enter things that I need to get at various stores etc. like safeway, home depot and others. I enter the item as the needs arises and when I’m out at these locations the app has a cool search function that allows me to easily recall the items. It a general purpose app that I also use for other things.

It has worked very for me and just thought others might be interested.

Jim bak October 22, 2009 at 5:29 pm

Cool article but for those who really want a good traffic app should try a free, ad-free app called INRIX TRAFFIC! It’s the only app out there that gives you both real-time traffic info. and accurate predictions for how traffic is expected to change over the next hour so you can better plan your trips. Less time in traffic = savings of time, money and gas with the best benefit of all being reduced harmful emissions from your car. If you have to drive to work, this app has shown it can reduce your emissions by up to 15 percent.


Thanks for letting us know about this app!

Here’s a link for those interested: http://inrixtraffic.com

Camillee Roberts November 1, 2009 at 9:11 am

A new cool FREE app called iSmog gives air quality updates for the SF Bay Area. I can set my preferences so that I am notified when air quality is bad for sensitive groups – asthmatics for example. And, I can set the preference based on a particular air basin (Marin County, for example). Neat stuff.

Alison November 6, 2009 at 12:51 pm

Monterey Bay Aquarium has a FREE Seafood Guide app that helps you make sustainable choices.

inderpalwig November 20, 2009 at 10:49 pm

hey steve! great post – i googled “10 practical iphone apps” – i love my iphone as a tool because it’s made things so much easier for me and figured there has to be other stuff out there – and it was only a matter of typing it in google – and I got what i wanted and even more useful and relevant than i figured i would! I’ve recently started to be more conscious of what my actions are doing to better or harm the environment, and if there are these tools available, and likely even other similar ones if I do a good search for them! You guys seem to have interesting tips too – plan to check out more of your site. Great job – you should be on twitter and sending these tips! I know I’d love to get them – as well I’m sure others. Looking for ideas on using compost in a condo building – think it also depends on city regulations (i’m in Toronto, canada), so will need to likely look that up! Anyway – thanks for a great post and reference point. Look forward to receiving your subscription and updates!

mark January 10, 2011 at 10:29 am

There is another great app I found the other day called Cool Tree ( http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/cool-tree/id368201873?mt=8 ) .

it’s kind of like a tamagotchi but with trees. And each purchase protects a real tree in threatened areas of the Amazon Basin, you even get a digital certificate of sponsorship and can view your tree by satellite imagery.

It’s done in association with http://www.coolearth.org it’s an app that’s fun and can really help to make a difference.

Nice to see you doing a feature on apps like this, it would be great if Apple did the same!

Tao Romera March 10, 2013 at 5:37 am


My team just released an iPhone app last week, Sweetway
(http://sweetway.zilapp.com/). With it, you can look for walking or
cycling routes, but unlike other route search apps, who just give you
the shortest route, we include in our routing algorithm facts that
affect the pleasantness of your way.
For example, calm streets with no traffic and bordered with trees are
prioritized over crowded, noisy and highly contaminated streets, even
if the latter are a bit shorter.

Sweetway makes safe and pleasant cycling or walking in urban
environments, where (sadly) cars are everywhere, thus fostering people
to use the most environmentally and mentally friendly means of
transport: the bicycle and your feet!

I thought this app was exactly the kind of apps you promote in your
blog, so I would be very pleased if you gave it a try and eventually
recommend it to any interested person.


lars March 12, 2013 at 1:14 pm

Thanks for letting us know! Good luck with your app.

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