The notion that technology can be good for the environment may be a hard pill to swallow for some. And perhaps not without reason; after all, we’ve all seen the images of computer monitors piled up in landfills. But the truth of the matter is that technology can and is being used to promote environmental initiatives.
From mobile apps that aid in energy conservation to games that promote recycling, today’s digital tools can be a conservationist’s best friend. With today’s advanced gaming capabilities driving sales of first-person shooters and massive multiplayer online worlds, it’s easy to forget that gaming principles can be applied to things other than shooting zombies and building ancient kingdoms. But that’s exactly what’s happening.
The diversity in the mobile gaming marketplace is bigger than ever and an increasing number of games and apps are promoting environmental concerns. From your smartphone or tablet, you can adjust your thermostat on the fly, calculate more fuel-efficient routes for your next trip, or earn points for recycling and conserving energy around the house. Minus the flying cars and Rosie the robot, it’s as if “The Jetsons” has finally come to fruition!
Some of the top apps and games that can help the environment include:
One of the most clever environmental apps available, greenMeter utilizes your smartphone’s built-in accelerometer to provide real-time data on fuel economy. By reducing your fuel consumption, you can not only save money, but lower your environmental impact as well. What makes greenMeter different than other fuel savings apps is its real-time readout. It will tell you if you’re being a bit heavy footed as it’s happening. Set goals for yourself and aim for new records, and greenMeter suddenly becomes a game.
GoodGuide is a consumer protection and education application. Though that might sound boring, what’s particularly helpful about it is that it can aid you in finding products that are environmentally friendly and socially responsible. Remember, all products have logistics chains, and many – even ones you may not be aware of – use animal and plant products. This app can help you find products that have less of an environmental impact, based on scientific studies and ratings.
Though Commute Green may seem similar to greenMeter, the two are actually quite different. For one, Commute Green has gamification built-in; users can compete with their friends and family, and earn points and badges for achieving goals. Second, Commute Green helps you reduce your carbon footprint by looking at all forms of commuting – not just cars. With this app, you can plot routes, get real-time traffic data to avoid congestion, and earn points for bicycling, walking, or taking public transportation.
One of the simplest means of lessening your impact on the environment is by shopping local. Think about the difference you can make by switching from Fiji Water to one that is bottled in your state or the state over. The Seasons app takes this principle and runs with it, by providing information on fruits and vegetables that are in season and locally grown. This information can help you find products that pose less of a burden on the environment (and are fresher to boot).
Can technology be the savior of the environment?
It would be naïve and a bit presumptuous to think that mobile apps and games alone can save the environment. We’ll have to rely on a wide range of technologies if we are to reduce our carbon footprint as a species. But every little bit helps, and games and apps that turn smartphones and tablets into environmental tools deserve our attention.
Content provided by Jessica Oaks. Oaks is Associate Editor for Freshly Techy and a freelance technology writer. Feature image courtesy of Johan Larsson