App-solutely Green

5 Apps that help you and the planet

Are you tired of using up phone storage with apps that waste your time and your storage? Then look no further. These five remarkable apps harness the power of technology to offer practical solutions to many common problems faced by students, while having the added benefit of saving the planet! Whether it’s promoting productivity, combatting food waste, supporting sustainable fashion, or facilitating vegan and vegetarian diets, these apps will enhance your daily life, while also contributing to a greener and more sustainable future.

  1. Forest

We all know the story. The all-too common problem faced by students, who promise themselves, ‘just one more episode!’, before losing hours upon hours of their time. I know how often I’ve fallen victim to the productivity blackhole that is social media. Well, the Forest app is here to solve that problem! The concept revolves around the idea of planting virtual trees that grow while you stay focused on your tasks. When you open the app and start a session, you select a specific time period during which you want to remain focused. A virtual tree will be planted in your digital forest which grows so long as you resist the temptation to leave the app. If you successfully complete the session, the tree will fully mature, and you will be rewarded with virtual coins! However, if you exit the app, your tree will wither and die.

How does it benefit you?

In my experience, the physical threat of killing my hard-earned tree prevents me from falling back into the predictable pattern of checking my phone every time it pings, enabling me to actually focus on writing my essays. This is useful, since I’m not sure the excuse of watching 8 hours of TikTok is ever going to go down well with my tutors. Plus, who doesn’t want to grow a virtual tree? 

How does it benefit the planet?

As you accumulate virtual coins, you have the option to contribute them towards planting real trees in partnership with Trees for the Future, a non-profit organization focused on sustainable agriculture. According to Trees for the Future, the Forest app has planted 2, 090, 012 trees!

2. Ecosia

Downloading Ecosia is one of the easiest ways you can contribute to saving the Earth since you’ll be planting trees every time you search the web! Every time you try and find a song you’ve had stuck in your head, question how old that actor who’s been around forever is, or look up how to revamp old dominoes pizza, you can smile smugly to yourself in the knowledge that even your most banal questions are contributing to reforestation.

How does it benefit you?

Alongside the obvious, that Ecosia is a search engine, there are certain other benefits. Ecosia emphasizes privacy and data security. They do not sell user data or create user profiles for targeted advertising. Additionally, it offers features including a customizable homepage with background images from various ecosystems.

How does it benefit the planet?

Deforestation is a major threat to our planet, with 10 million hectares of forest lost every single year. The app aims to combat deforestation and support reforestation efforts around the world, by using a large portion of the ad revenue generated by each search to plant trees. As of 2022, 146 million trees had been financed by Ecosia.

3. Too Good to Go

I will never stop talking about this app. The hungry students best friend, say goodbye to your growling stomach, and say hello to a package of ridiculously cheap food from your favourite restaurants in Oxford. Rather than turning to a tired pot noodle, you can dine on gourmet leftovers, while helping to combat food waste! It’s a win-win. The app is a platform for restaurants, cafes, bakeries, supermarkets, and other food establishments to sell their leftover food at discounted prices, rather than throwing it away. The app uses your location to display a list of nearby participating businesses. Each business listed offers a ‘Magic Bag’ or a ‘Surprise Bag’ containing surplus food items that would otherwise go to waste. These bags typically include items like pastries, sandwiches, salads, fruits, and other perishable food items.

How does it benefit you?

No more going hungry or not knowing what to cook! Items are priced at a significant discount compared to their regular prices, which is ideal when you’re working on a student budget. The exact contents of the bag are not revealed beforehand, adding an element of mystery that will spice up your weekly food shop. Additional perks? In my experience, you’re often gifted an inordinate amount of food. Which means your mates will love you when you offer them free samples!

How does it benefit the planet?

Food waste is a major environmental issue. On average, the UK throws away 9.52 million tonnes of food per year, which emits 25 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere, with around 1/3 of all food produced going to waste. The Too Good to Go app therefore allows users to save money on food, while also contributing to the fight against food waste.

4. Vinted

Are you a charity-shop enthusiast, but finding Oxford’s charity shops to be lacking? Or are you looking to make a bit of extra money to supplement your weekly Park End trip? Vinted is here to save the day. The Vinted app is a mobile application that serves as a marketplace for buying, selling, and trading second-hand fashion items. The app is easy to use, enabling you to upload photos, add descriptions, set prices, and manage inventory. For buyers, the Vinted app offers a variety of search and filtering options to discover items that match their preferences. Users can search by category, brand, size, price range, and location. The app also provides a rating system and user reviews, allowing buyers to assess the reliability and trustworthiness of sellers before purchasing.

How does it benefit you?

Vinted is a great way to declutter your wardrobe, find unique, pre-owned clothing and accessories, and make (or spend) some money.

How does it benefit the planet?

Shopping second hand is one way to combat fast fashion, which produces around 10% of carbon emissions. Downloading Vinted is a step towards making the fashion industry more sustainable.

5. HappyCow

Sick of having to whether they have any vegan options every time you go out to eat? Look no further. The HappyCow app will save you both time and energy. It provides a comprehensive directory of vegan, vegetarian, and vegan-friendly food establishments, allowing you to find plant-based dining options wherever you are. The app features a user-friendly interface that allows users to search for restaurants based on location, cuisine type, and specific dietary preferences. And with a data-base of over 135,000 restaurants, cafes, bakeries, markets, juice bars, coffee shops, and food stores in 180 countries, it has never been easier to find delicious food that meets your dietary preferences.

How does it benefit you?

The app enables vegans, vegetarians, and anyone who is trying to eat more plant-based to discover new culinary experiences and support local businesses that cater to their dietary choices. There are around 7.2 million people in the UK following a meat-free diet currently. The app makes it easier than ever to follow this trend without losing out on quality dining.

How does it benefit the planet?

Studies have shown that eliminating meat can significantly reduce your carbon footprint, with plant-based diets emitting 10 to 50 times less fossil fuels than animal products, which produce 35-40% of all global methane.

Photo by Luca Bravo on Unsplash