Apps – the new world of sustainability

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Lora Brill
EMEA Upstream Sustainability Services

Sustainability comes down to choices – choices of design, behaviour, and consumption. Our choices are influenced by the information about costs and benefits available to us at the time of decision. Information about sustainability costs and benefits has always been notoriously hard to obtain in these crucial moments. However, open data, mobile wireless networks, handheld device technology and creative programmers are opening a whole new world of informed choice making. Enter “green” apps, available on many mobile devices today.

Today, I can stand in a grocery store and check the ethical credentials of thousands of  products (Green Guide for U.S., barcoo for Europe), which seafood is healthy, abundant and well-managed (Seafood Watch), and whether paying extra for organic on a particular product makes a difference (Soleil Organics).

I can reduce waste and embedded carbon by trading or sharing used goods through several mobile apps or websites (MyGumtree, Craigslist, ReaditSwapit, freecycle). And I can lower my travel carbon emissions with apps that help me drive more efficiently, apps that help me find a Boris Bike in London and apps that help me track public transport services around the world.

On a daily basis, I can contribute to London School of Economics research on the impacts of noise and air pollution on human well-being and improve the design of future places (Mappiness).  And walking around London, I can check on the energy efficiency of many properties by pointing my camera and clicking to pull up their Display Energy Certificate (Layar

This is just a tiny selection of the new instant access, sustainability-informed interfaces that could quietly revolutionize our choices. Whatever your area of business or personal interest, there is an app that can help you be more sustainable. Or there soon will be!

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