This past Christmas I got an awesome gift from my husband - an iPhone 4! I spent much of 2010 counting down the days till my upgrade, which happened to be the week before Christmas. The minute I got it I started searching for apps. The first one that I downloaded was the Farmville app - yes I am a Farmville addict. Once I had that up and running I began looking for useful, free apps. I was happy to see that there were some apps out there to help me be a little more green. Here are a few that I have been using for the past few months and that I really like.
Now I am pretty good when it comes to reading labels. Between dairy allergies and wanting my family to eat healthier I have had many years of practice. I wanted to see if there was an app to supplement that, one where I could scan in a barcode and it would give me information on the product. After I downloaded Fooducate I fell in love with it. You use the camera to scan in the barcode and then up pops an informational page about the product along with a rating like A-, B, etc. It will tell you things like if there is a questionable ingredient in there or too much sugar. The really great part is that it lists healthier alternatives for you.
The first day I had this app I literally scanned everything in my pantry and fridge, just for the fun of it. You can also find me standing in a grocery aisle scanning products. I am sure people think I am nuts. They have over 200,000 products in their database and growing. You will occasionally scan something they don't have, but then it asks you if you want to help them out by sending pictures of the ingredients and barcode so they can add it. So I have sent a few new products their way.If you are looking to make better food choices for you and your family, you absolutely need to give Fooducate a try.
Editor's Note: After several of you asked about an Android version, I asked Fooducate if there are plans in the works. They are currently working on an Android app and is should hopefully be out soon. You can visit the Fooducate Blog for more details.
Dirty Dozen by The Environmental Working Group
This is a very simple, easy-to-use app. No bells and whistles, just the information. This app will provide you with 2 important lists for when you are produce shopping: The Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15. The Dirty Dozen is a list of the top 12 produce items that retain the highest amounts of pesticides. These are the items you really want to buy organic. The Clean 15 is a list of the 15 produce items that contain the least amount of pesticides and are okay for you to buy conventional instead of organic. Good for when you are at the grocery store or farmer's market and need to check which produce you should be buying organic.
Sunscreen Buyer's Guide by The Environmental Working Group
With Spring and warmer weather hopefully on its way, this is an app you'll want to download soon.What you put on your body is just as important as what you put in your body. While it is crucial to protect yourself and your family from the sun, you should also be aware of all of the chemicals used in many sunscreens and choose one that is better for you. This app gives you a list of the top natural sunscreens and also has a look up feature so you can see where your current one stands. The ratings go from 0 to 10. 0 being the best and 10 the worst. Remember that just because they use the word "natural" on the packaging doesn't mean it is actually safer. I was surprised to find out that my natural sunscreen was rated a 7 ouch. I guess it is time to find a new one, and there is a long list in this app of sunscreens rated in the 0 - 2 range.
TreeHugger is your source for all green news. If you are already a fan of TreeHugger.com then you will definitely enjoy this app as it puts TreeHugger right at your fingertips. Tons of green news, podcasts, their Twitter feed, and more. It even has a recycling section provided by Recycling.com that lets you search where specific materials may be recycled in your area. For example you can select an item like batteries and then it will put pins on map of the closest places to your current location.
I am constantly on the hunt for green apps and I will bring you more as I find them. I recently downloaded a few more. So I will play with them and test them for several weeks and if I like them, I'll put out a second list of free green iPhone apps. Have you downloaded any green apps that you really like? If you have, please share them with me!