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7 apps to measure your environmental impact

Fight food waste, eliminate junk mail, track your carbon emissions and more with these popular apps.

It’s estimated that, as a planet, we’re using more natural resources than the Earth provides. In fact, we’d need 1.75 Earths to keep up with our current rate of consumption, according to data from the Global Footprint Network. Thankfully, there are tons of apps out there to help you measure and reduce your environmental impact.

1. Aspiration Impact Measurement (AIM)

  • Why we like it: Tracks your spending habits and assigns you a Sustainability Score based on where you shop.
  • Cost: Free
  • Available to download on: App Store and Google Play

Backed by Leonardo DiCaprio and Orlando Bloom, Aspiration is an eco-friendly financial firm that not only plants trees with every swipe of your debit card, but offers a mobile app feature that tracks how socially responsible your spending habits are.

When you open an Aspiration Spend & Save account, you’ll get access to the Aspiration Impact Measurement (AIM) app feature, which monitors your shopping and spending habits, then assigns you a Sustainability Score based on the purchases you’ve made. That way you can see the impact your spending is having on people and the planet.

You’ll earn a higher score for shopping with businesses that are minimizing greenhouse emissions, using renewable energy sources, paying employees a fair wage and giving them access to good health care, among other things. And in turn, Aspiration rewards you with cash back for shopping at merchants with the highest AIM scores.

You can also choose to carbon offset gas purchases and plant trees using spare change from your Aspiration debit card purchases.

2. Capture

  • Why we like it: Track, reduce and remove your carbon emissions with this mobile app.
  • Cost: Free
  • Available to download on: App Store and Google Play

Capture gives you a way to track, reduce and remove the CO2 emissions you produce from traveling and eating. After you install the app, you’ll answer a short questionnaire to determine your monthly CO2 target. Then, the app will use your phone’s GPS to track carbon emissions when you fly, ride a bicycle, drive or take a bus or plane. You can also log your food in the mobile app.

Each day, the app will give you tips on how to reduce your carbon footprint. It’ll also notify you when you’ve gone over your monthly CO2 target.

If you wish, you can “remove” your CO2 emissions in the mobile app by paying to offset it.

3. #Climate (Hashtag Climate)

  • Why we like it: #Climate makes it easy for you to encourage your followers on social media to take action on environmental issues close to your heart.
  • Cost: Free
  • Available to download on: App Store

Have a large social media following? Use your platform to raise environmental awareness with the #Climate app. All you have to do is create a profile and choose the environmental causes you’re most passionate about. You can even limit your information by geographical areas.

#Climate will then curate a list of actionable steps you can take to have a positive impact on the areas you care about most. Then, you can share those actions with your friends on Twitter and Facebook and track how many people click the links to learn more.

4. PaperKarma

  • Why we like it: Opt out of paper junk mail for good with this handy app.
  • Cost: Starting at $3.99 per month
  • Available to download on: App Store and Google Play

Sick of getting all that junk mail? With PaperKarma, all you have to do is take a picture of the mail you no longer want to receive and upload it to the app. Then, PaperKarma will unsubscribe you from the mailing list. It works on everything from catalogs and credit card offers to local mailers and previous resident junk mail.

5. GreenChoice

  • Why we like it: Build a healthy carbon-neutral grocery list in minutes.
  • Cost: Free
  • Available to download on: App Store and Google Play

GreenChoice is a grocery shopping app that lets you search for foods based on over 90 different diets and values. For example, you can search for items that are palm oil free, nitrate free, carbon neutral and more. Each food product is assigned a sustainability score, so you can see its impact on the environment.

Once you’ve built your shopping list, you can order those items from stores like Target, Walmart, Walgreens, CVS and more directly in the GreenChoice mobile app. You’ll get free two-day shipping, and GreenChoice will even offset the carbon footprint of your purchase.

6. Olio

  • Why we like it: Fight waste by giving away items you no longer need to your neighbors.
  • Cost: Free
  • Available to download on: App Store & Google Play

Americans throw out nearly 80 billion pounds of food each year. This food then sits in landfills where it releases methane, carbon dioxide and chlorofluorocarbons — three emissions that contribute to global warming.

Olio is a free sharing app that lets you borrow food and other household items instead of having to buy them new or throw them away.

Simply take a picture of what you don’t need and upload it to the app. Then, Olio will alert users in your area. If they’re interested, they can request to pick up your items. Each Olio member has a verified profile with star ratings, so you can vet each request before accepting.

7. Ecosia search engine

  • Why we like it: This free search engine plants trees on your behalf as you search the web.
  • Cost: Free
  • Available to download on: App Store and Google Play

Plant trees and reverse the effects of climate change by simply using Ecosia as your search engine instead of Google or Bing.

Here’s how it works: As you use the search engine, Ecosia makes money from ads that appear. The company then uses that money to plant trees. To date, it’s planted over 114 million trees at over 9,000 locations around the world.

Ecosia has even teamed up with TreeCard to plant a tree for every $60 you spend using your debit card.

Bottom line

Measuring your environmental impact goes way beyond recycling and avoiding plastic. Use one (or several) of these apps to track and reduce your ecological footprint — every little bit helps.

And if you’re in the market for a new bank account, consider an environmentally friendly option that will help you make even more of a positive impact.

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