Earth Day: Apps + Organizations That Help Us Do Better

Six opportunities to make it easier to reduce, reuse or recycle

There are plenty of companies doing their part to reduce their footprint, cut back waste and do better by the planet, but switching to environmentally friendly products is just one piece of the big, messy puzzle. We all need to continue making lifestyle changes that are more sustainable, eco-friendly and thoughtful. Some of those life edits are easy, some take a little extra effort, all are worth it. And while we can make choices each day that are kinder to Earth, there are also countless organizations, apps and companies that make it even more simple. Here are some of our favorites.

RecycleNation

Recycling is a simple way to live in a more sustainable way. Tossing plastic, glass, metal and paper into a bin and leaving it on the curb is thought to be the end of it—a closed loop. But a lot of recycling plants cannot break down or even accept several specific materials, and they’re then rerouted into landfills. To help deal with the problem, RecycleNation is an app dedicated to locating recycling plants and facilities with broad acceptance, in turn helping people get rid of hard-to-recycle items. On the platform, users simply type in what they’re looking to recycle, along with their zip code, and a map of the nearest receptacles (whether actual offices or a standalone bin) appears.

Package Free Shop’s The Works Starter Kit

Founded by sustainability advocate Lauren Singer, Package Free Shop sources excellent and eco-friendly products from around the globe to sell in their brick and mortar shop, hosts events and publishes how-to guides on their website. For those who can’t visit the store in person, the brand’s The Works Starter Kit ($159) is a great foundation for anyone looking to create less waste. Inside the kit: a pair of bottles, stainless steel containers, beeswax food paper, utensils and much more—all replacing less eco-friendly options.

Olio

Over a third of all food produced worldwide is wasted and in developed countries well above half of that waste comes from private homes. Olio is a food-sharing app that aims to connect neighbors and community members who have excess food to in-need individuals—all quickly and easily through their phones. Users simply list their food on Olio, and another user is able to claim it. Those users are connected to arrange a time to meet (location is determined by the “seller,” ultimately) and share the would-be wasted food.

Litterati

Picking up litter—though a noble and important deed—is oftentimes associated with punishment, but Litterati wants to turn the act into a game. By using geo-tracking from users, the app can track where litter is worst and most frequently accumulates—and it can even determine what kind of pollution it is. And while users’ contributions are tracked on the map (the Netherlands is currently the world’s most actively engaged country) to keep competition and motivation up, it’s the data that the app will offer to companies to help them find better solutions that will hopefully create even more change.

GrowNYC

If you’re NYC-based like us, GrowNYC should be on your radar. The organization is behind the city’s beloved greenmarkets and much more. It works diligently to curb New Yorkers’ less environmentally friendly habits. The organization offers up food and clothing waste collection points, helms farmer’s markets, and establishes and supports community and school gardens citywide.

Tap

We’re all (hopefully) years and years into our dedication to reusable bottles—refusing single-use plastic whenever possible. iOS app Tap supports this behavior, and offers users maps of the nearest water fountains and fill stations— some 34,000 of them in 30 countries. Users simply log in and can find the water nearest them using a zip code or the location services on their device. Tap isn’t just consumer-facing; businesses can apply to become refill stations where users can stop by to fill up.

Images courtesy of respective venues