Turn Your Phone Into an Environmental Tree-Hugging Champion


Just in the last 13 hours, between the news, Twitter, and the loud, hairy dudes on the train, it seems to me the whole world is spewing about global warming, carbon footprints, and sustainable energy.

No matter where you stand on the global warming spectrum, we can all agree that we love planet earth and we want to show her some love. That’s what this article is all about. What if I told you that your trusty, chic, personalized, feel-naked-without-it, sleeps-next-to-you-on-the-nightstand, and-gazes-into-your-eyes-four-hours-a-day smartphone had the power and capabilities to quickly and simply make a difference, and it only takes a minute or two? That’s right! A green machine right in your hand! Although not organic itself-- this smartphone has the potential to be used in environmental ways you may have never considered.

So let’s pause the rhetoric (at least long enough to consider these simple and awesome suggestions), and for the next five minutes actually DO one of the five simple things suggested below:

#1. Pick up the phone and call, text, email, or tag your local representatives in your city, state, or elsewhere and let them know your feelings about the environment. If you don’t know who your representatives are you can look them up here. You may say it won’t make a difference, and whether you are right or not, we both know doing absolutely nothing definitely doesn’t make a difference. My sister came to me the other day and said she was thinking about trying out for a main role in a local production, but decided not to because she probably wouldn’t make it. My response to her was “By not trying at all you already didn’t make it, so why not try since you have nothing to lose?” So it is with our communication with elected leaders. Whether they represent your views or not -- at least you tried and that doesn’t take much effort. PS -- my sister did get cast in the role she auditioned for -- so take that!

#2. Give one of these sweet apps a try.

Zero Carbon: this app basically monitors your commuting and emissions and computes it to your daily “carbon footprint”. Once you start monitoring it, you’ll find yourself motivated to make meaningful changes.

Eco-Dice: This app is full of ideas and challenges that come randomly when you roll the dice. (i.e. bringing your own bag to the shopping store, turning lights off, or unplugging less-used appliances).

EcoCharge: An app that alerts you when your phone is fully charged. This allows you to take it off the charger and it better preserves the battery life of your phone.

Farmstand: This app helps you locate and connect to local farmers’ markets with fresh and organic food, rather than the processed foods often found in large grocery chains.

GreenMeter: If you have a lead foot like me, this app can help you accelerate and brake more efficiently -- ultimately helping you maximize your mileage and reducing fuel emission.

#3. Start a carpool. This world is filled with abundant mobile and online forums where you can find people who are interested in carpooling. Some of these resources are specific to the area where you live. If you work for a large company, they often have a forum to help connect you with your co-workers who are interested in carpooling. Ride-shares or van-shares are plentiful in large cities. Even Google’s Waze app or a simple scroll through your list of contacts may spark ideas of where you can begin. Carpooling can save you money and is often faster than public transportation right if you connect with the right people.

#4. Get Smart--as in “smart” home technology. This is getting to be a very robust and affordable industry (and is just really fun to have). Imagine being able to turn off the lights at home from your office downtown, or adjusting the AC, or raising the blinds to get solar heating in the house. There are many affordable and cost effective ways to having these fun and somewhat luxurious perks in your home, and control them all from the palm of your hand. You can start now to research those. One I use and personally recommend can be found here. (Vivint SmartHome)

#5 Share your successes and challenges online. No matter what you believe and where you stand in debates about the environment, start being engaged NOW. Use that sweet, state-of-the-art, trillion pixel camera on the back of your phone and share your stories through pictures (worth a thousand words, right?). But no matter what, let’s remember to do it civilly. No matter how different our view points (or our grooming), we have much more that unites us than divides us.