Green App of the Week (6/24 – 6/30/12)

June 27, 2012 § Leave a comment

Today’s App: Eco-Labels

Organic. All Natural. GMO Free. Animal Welfare Approved. Antibiotic Free. Dolphin Safe. Earth Smart. Fair Trade Certified. What on earth do these all mean?! These are the labels that we see every day on our canned goods, groceries, cleaning supplies, meats, and everything in between. They confuse us. We wonder which are more important, and if manufacturers are even telling us the truth about how their products were produced.

This week’s app, Eco-Labels, helps you to decipher just what these manufacturers are trying to tell you. Once you find the label in question in the app’s list, a simple click opens you up to wealth of information. First and foremost, it tells you what the label means. Next it answers a few important questions: Is the label meaningful? Does it have weight in the world? Is it widely accepted as a truthful label? Once you find that rating – usually described with terms such as “highly meaningful” or just a plain “No” – the next thing the app informs you on is whether or not the label is verified by an independent source – basically, does someone other than the company that made the product have any input into the label that gets put on it. Other information the app provides is whether or not the label is consistent, and whether industry members get input into the regulations of the label.

One of the things I really love about this app is that not only does it give you a rating or piece of info – i.e., doesn’t just say that the label is verified – it also explains why. Sometimes these explanations are only a sentence or two, but other times they’re quite extensive, spanning paragraphs of unbelievably useful information. Another favorite feature of mine is, in actuality, so simple that it’s brilliant – it includes pictures of the labels! One last feature of the app that it think makes it more useful than other apps of its kind? A search bar.

Overall, this app is simple, user-friendly, and if anything is just a little too all-inclusive.

My Grade: A

 

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Green App of the Week (6/17- 6/23/12)

June 19, 2012 § 2 Comments

The Sustainability Revolution has begun! Green is taking over our world. From solar panels popping up on suburban roofs around the country, to local, organically grown foods being sold in an exponentially growing number of local markets,  it’s became generally accepted that sustainably-minded business is here to stay. Last week, I wrote about a new social network that can help eco-geeks band together, and after a bit of research, I’ve discovered another field of emerging green business: Apps. Starting with today’s post, every week I will feature a different Green App – some clearly focused on sustainability, others that can be used for environmentally friendly purposes.

Today’s App: Verde 

Verde means “Green” in Spanish, a fitting name for this iPad app, which is a kind of all-encompassing app for conducting your own personal do-it-yourself energy audit. In just four easy steps, you can figure out how to save (according to the app’s website) an average of $200 a year in energy costs.

It’s easy to use. Start by selecting your geographical zone from a map, then let the app use your location to figure out your electricity rate cost. Third, add appliances and other energy-consuming devices you have at home from one of 7 categories (Lighting, Heating, Air Conditioning, Computers and TV, Kitchen Appliances, Other Electronics, and Electric Vehicles). For each appliance, you can be as specific, or as nonspecific as you want and edit how often you use it to more accurately account for it’s energy consumption. Last but not least, you click finalize and end up with a report like the one below, detailing exactly how to make your home more energy-efficienct – and cost efficient.

Your Final Report

What I love about this app is that it takes the idea of an Energy Audit – something that is often free, but still intimidating – and makes it easy to do yourself. Many homeowners don’t like to have their homes audited, because they feel that they get pressured into doing the repairs recommended to them, so Verde provides an alternative, allowing homeowners to make their own decisions, or to check up on what they’re told by professional auditors. The app is super easy to use, and can be as specific or nonspecific as possible. The only flaws I find are the app’s focus on electricity, and not so much on other types of energy (i.e. gas), and that it basically ignores the idea of airflow and home sealing, which reasonably can’t be measured by an app. Overall, however, I love this app – it focuses on exactly what I think is important – things that are easy to do and have super-significant environmental and economic impacts.

My Grade: A-

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