How to Use Your Smartphone for Environmental Change

You use your smartphone for everything — entertainment, social connection, communication. It’s your flashlight, your notebook, your map, your calendar; so why not also a tool in your environmental activism tool belt? You care about the environment and are always looking for new ways to learn about environmental issues, raise awareness and reduce your environmental impact. As the saying goes, “There’s an app for that.” It is possible to use your smartphone for environmental change — through apps, yes, but also social media and more.

Recycle Your Phone

One concrete way to be eco-conscious with your smartphone is to ensure that your phone itself is having the smallest environmental impact possible. Start by choosing an environmentally friendly smartphone that is easy to recycle, like the iPhone 6s Plus. Apple removed toxins from its devices and recently developed a robot called Liam for disassembling iPhones. Apple stated that its goal with Liam is to eventually make all iPhones out of recycled materials.

Download Green Apps

It’s amazing what people with tech know-how and a cause can make. There are apps that can help you with your quest to make your own daily life more eco-friendly, as well as your need to make a broader positive environmental impact. Here are just five of the many apps available to aid your environmental activism:

  1. GoodGuide. GoodGuide is a free guide to environmental shopping. This app allows you to scan a barcode or search for a specific product and will give you information on the health, environmental and societal impact for both the product and its parent company.
  2. #Climate. #Climate is an environmental awareness app that will inform you about events and actions from various environmental groups. You can customize your information and alerts based on location and topic, which you can then easily share on social media.
  3. JouleBug. JouleBug challenges you to make your everyday actions like showering and cooking more environmentally friendly by providing information, tips, videos, and links. The app makes a game of sustainability and encourages you to connect and compete with others, making it a fun way to spread information and good environmental habits.
  4. PaperKarma. If you get a ton of junk mail, PaperKarma can help. According to the app, about 44 billion pieces of mail end up in landfill, unopened, every year. All you do is take a photo of the mail with both your and the sender’s details and for a subscription fee of $19.99/year, PaperKarma will unsubscribe you.
  5. Earth Now. Stay informed about the latest climate change data with the Earth Now app. Earth Now, from NASA, beautifully visualizes global climate data like air temperature, carbon dioxide, and sea level variations.

Use Social Media

Environmental groups and individuals interested in environmental activism have embraced social media as a way to communicate, inform, fundraise and more. And it has proven to be an effective tool. In fact, 75 percent of people say that after they like or follow a page dedicated to a social or environmental campaign on social media, they are more likely to take action to support the cause, and 25 percent actually follow through. Here are two ways you can use your smartphone in conjunction with social media to bring awareness to an environmental issue:

  1. Take and post photos. Take a note from brands who know that people on social media are far more likely to engage with visual content. Post photos or videos highlighting environmental problems, or showing organizations and individuals who are making a positive change.
  2. Live stream events. The viewership for live stream content is increasing every year and is a great way for individuals to engage in real time. Live stream environmental actions or events as a means of informing and involving followers.

The important thing when posting about environmental issues on social media is to give your followers a way to get involved. The best way to increase the number of people who want to take action to the people who actually take some sort of action is to give them an easy and meaningful way to do so, such as a link to donate or a specific volunteer opportunity.

About the author: Sally Brooks is a writer and nationally touring stand-up comedian who lives in New York City with her patient husband and chunky baby. Also a recovering attorney, Brooks’ work has been featured in “Temple Political and Civil Rights Law Review” and “Jurist.” A lifelong wanderer, Brooks is currently working on a memoir about her Appalachian Trail thru-hike.

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