Smart Living | Digital Parenting

Digital Parenting | 06 Jan 2022

Apps to help reduce your family’s carbon footprint

How can we reduce our impact on the planet and do our bit to combat global warming? Here are a few ideas...

First, the good news: last year, one-in-six of us made environmental New Year’s resolutions. And now, the bad: in the same year, another study found that 80% of us broke our resolution  by the second week of February.

Let’s face it. It’s not easy being green. In fact, it’s tough to keep on top of our eco resolutions, especially when the holidays end and the whirlwind of missing school ties, dog-eaten homework sheets and recorder recitals resumes.

Luckily, there’s an app for that. Or several, in fact. We asked two leading eco experts to share their secret weapons – the online applications that help them stay on top of their carbon footprints, whether they’re travelling, doing the weekly shop, or simply switching off the lights at home.

Now all you have to do is head to the app store, and smash those resolutions.

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Anne-Marie Soulsby is The Sustainable Life Coach. She helps clients across the UK to establish and achieve their environmental goals in their home, family and work lives.

Jen Gale  describes herself as “an ordinary, knackered mum of two”. She is also the author of two books: The Sustainable(ish) Living Guide and The Sustainable(ish) Guide to Green Parenting.

Food, glorious food

“Chopping down our food waste is a significant measure we can take to radically reduce our carbon footprint,” says Anne-Marie. “Around 9.5 million tonnes of food is thrown away every year in the UK, mostly at home.

“Keep track of what you’ve bought and what’s about to expire using Kitche, a clever app that scans your shopping lists, tracks the food you’ve left at home and helps you get food waste savvy. It even has recipes to ensure nothing gets wasted!”

Kitche is free from the App Store and Google Play.

Olio Screenshot

Olio is great,” says Jen. “It’s a food sharing app, where you can list ingredients you no longer want, and offer them to others who might be able to use them, in order to reduce food waste. It’s now branched out, too, so that you can list other stuff you’ve no longer any need for, too.

“Then CozZo is another app that helps you to keep an online inventory of your food cupboards and fridge, in an effort to fight food waste.”

Olio is free from the App Store and Google Play. CozZo is free from the App Store.

Fashion faux pas

“If you buy a lot of fast fashion it can account for a whopping 10% of your carbon footprint,” says Anne-Marie. “The UK chucks out 336,000 tonnes of clothes every year.”

“For special occasions, reduce single use fashion and try renting designer outfits instead through ByRotation – you can also lend yours to others through the app.”

ByRotation is free from the App Store and Google Play.

Vinted is a great app for buying and selling second hand clothes – for grown-ups and kids,” says Jen.

Vinted  is free from the App Store and Google Play.

The appliance of science

“Monitoring your home energy use is a great way to motivate you to use less and save money at the same time,” says Anne-Marie. “Find your energy supplier’s app and plot your use on a graph – making it visual and turning it into a competition gets all the family onboard.

Tado Screengrab

“If you want to delve deeper, invest in a smart energy system such as Tado. This allows you to control your heating remotely from your phone via the app, saving energy by only heating rooms when needed, or switching the heating on or off when you are out of the house.”

Tado products vary in price.

When to Plug In is a great app too,” says Jen. “It tells you the best time of day to plug in appliances or electric vehicles, in order to take advantage of higher proportions of renewables in the National Grid.”

When to Plug In  is free from the App Store and Google Play.

Green screen

“It’s so easy to plant a tree using the TreeApp,” says Anne-Marie. “All you have to do is watch or read an advert for around fifteen seconds once a day and a tree is planted, for free.”

 TreeApp is free from the App Store and Google Play.

TreeApp Screengrab

“Alternatively, switch your browser to Ecosia,” advises Jen. “It’s a search engine that plants trees with the revenue generated from adverts.

“My top tip is to drag it to where your normal browser is on your phone home screen, and then your thumb will go there automatically! It can also be downloaded for laptops and desktops too as a browser extension.”

Ecosia  is free to download and use.

Travelling light

Green Travel enables you to compare the footprints of different modes of transport when you’re planning a journey,” says Jen . “Then, when you’re out and about use the Refill app. It helps you to find nearby cafes and shops that will happily refill your water bottle.”

Green Travel is free from the App Store and Google Play.

Refill is free from the App Store and Google Play.

The Big Picture

“The WWF’s My Footprint app is good for getting a broad overview of your own impact and how to curb it,” says Jen. “But my favourite is Giki Zero. It’s an online tool rather than an app, but it’s very sensitive – when you make small changes to your habits, these are reflected in the footprint it calculates for you, which can be very incentivising!”

Anne-Marie agrees: “It’s brilliant. You fill in a questionnaire about key aspects of your life: from your diet to your energy suppliers and transport choices… even your pets and the cleaning products you use.

“It helps you understand your impact and where it’s largest. Then it calculates your carbon footprint and gives you targeted, bite-sized suggestions for cutting it.

“You get a new score each time you implement a greener strategy.”

My Footprint is free from the App Store and Google Play.

Giki Zero is free to use.

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