Thanks to the development of new resources, programs and smartphone apps that are focused on green efforts, it has become easier than ever for people who live in cities to lead lifestyles that are more environmentally friendly. Here are just a few of the ways technology can make green living more seamless for city dwellers.
1. Online City Resources
Many cities that offer recycling and disposal services publish online guides that detail policies and offer helpful tips. These resources, such as New York City’s “Recycle More, Waste Less” page, are the best places to go to clear up any
confusion or common questions about what can and can’t be recycled. This particular New York City resource also links to other useful websites, including a service that will significantly reduce junk mail as well as an educational recycling game for the iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch.
2. Recycling Apps
Going a step beyond listing a city’s recycling rules, there’s an app that can help people recycle when they’re in an unfamiliar area. There are also a few of the best green living apps out there, including the iRecycle Recycling Guide from Earth911. This app can come in handy for people who travel frequently or who are in a neighborhood or part of town that doesn’t offer recycling pickup services. Users can simply input the type of item they’d like to recycle and the app will point them to the nearest recycling facility.
3. Food Apps
Sustainable eating is an important aspect of green living, but it can be difficult to remember exactly which foods are sustainable and which aren’t. Also recommended is the Seafood Watch app from Monterey Bay Aquarium, which is perfect for fish and sushi lovers. This app features a list of seafood choices that are ranked by “best choice,” “good alternative” or “avoid,” depending on how sustainable each variety is.
4. Shopping Apps
In addition to providing information on which foods to buy, there are apps that offer environmental safety rankings for other types of products. Bennett’s recommendations include the Dirty Dozen: Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides and the EWG Sunscreen Guide. The Dirty Dozen is a handy resource for purchasing fruit and vegetables. Shoppers can access a list of the types of produce that contain the most pesticides as well as a list of the 15 cleanest types of conventionally grown fruits and veggies. Similarly, the EWG Sunscreen Guide offers details on which sunscreen ingredients are hazardous to the environment or to people’s health.
5. Programs in Development
Dirty Dozen, EWG Shopping Guide, Seafood Watch and iRecycle Recycling Guide are all excellent apps for city-dwellers looking to make more green, sustainable choices. But there are even newer apps and programs to look forward to because developers are hard at work creating more inventive and easy-to-use methods of promoting green living. Recently New York City hosted Reinvent Green, a sustainability-focused hackathon that challenged developers to create digital tools that could help New Yorkers lead greener lives. As Zoe Fox of Mashable reported, some of the award-winning apps include GreenCan, which locates the nearest recycling bin and lists which materials it accepts, and FreshFixNYC, which helps New Yorkers search through the available products at farmer’s markets.
With developers hard at work, there continue to be technological advances that help city dwellers find sustainable products and make the most of recycling and disposal services. With just a few of these apps and services close at hand, every individual can contribute to making her city a cleaner and greener place to live.
By Guy Schumaker. Guy is a freelance writer and editor. He loves exploring the technology sector and spends his weekends developing new apps.