Appiphilia: Reviews of iPhone applications for green on the go
First things first. If you're a true addict -- and you know you are -- you've got to have your Appiphilia fix the second you can get it. Now you can subscribe to the RSS feed .
As you know, new apps are surfacing -- and then blending into the background -- just about daily. Last week, we touched on one holiday-focused app. But wait, there's more! On the L.A. Times' To Live and Buy in L.A. shopping blog, we took a look at six other iPhone apps to help with the season of giving -- that is, giving your money to the mall.
This week, we're going to look at apps that try to make it easier to be green.
What it is: If you combined the serendipity of Woot, the community spirit of Craigslist and the intent of recycling, you'd get Gigoit: garbage in, garbage out. People list items that are in still-working or easy-to-fix shape for others to cycle back into use.
The idea behind Gigoit, which makes the Local Reuse app, is to keep functional items in your community from the fate of festering prematurely in a landfill. You can search for items as close as one mile from you and as far away as 1,000 miles.
What sizzles: The idea that you can donate or call dibs on items is pretty cool. And everything shows up, including assorted bedding, car bumpers, lawn mowers, microwaves and television sets. Canucks and Brits can also get in on the swap of stuff.
What fizzles: At this point, there hasn't been much to pick through in the L.A. area. (The third generation iPod charger and cable that was about 20 miles away has been withdrawn. And this was the closest offering I could find.)
Bottom line: An app that's worth keeping an eye on, but it's more wait-and-see than have-to-get-right-now. I'd like to see how the online community develops.
What it is: This guide, currently in beta, grades products to identify major impacts to human health, the environment and society. In other words, it's trying to assess how "good" the product is. You can create shopping and "avoid" lists as well as share the ratings with others via e-mail.
What sizzles: When you launch the app, it lists two highly rated products with their rating (it's a different pair each time). If you touch a product on the screen, you get ...
... a breakdown of what the rating really means and which ingredients to avoid. You can look up more stuff by category (say, toothpaste) or by brand.
I looked up an item I buy all the time -- let's just say it's a "lady product" -- to find that it has a decent overall rating (9.6 out of 10 for health). But down a little further, listed next to red Xs, were explanations that the company that makes it has a below average score on ethical policies and "one of the lowest scores in environmental compliance" and that the item it includes formaldehyde. That may give me pause before I buy it again.
The app links to an iPhone-optimized version of the main site for additional info.
What fizzles: There were certainly a number of brands that I've heard of, but I didn't see a lot of the products that I use. That said, GoodGuide boasts that it has rated more than 65,000 items. Maybe I'm just more brown than green.
Bottom line: If you buy the notion of being green, it's helpful to be armed with some info. Check out the explanation of methodology to make sure you understand the criteria employed.
Light 'green' offerings
Several other free apps give you a head start on leading a greener existence.
What it is: Daily tips on how to help the environment.
What sizzles: The information is helpful enough. You can refresh the screen and get a new tip.
What fizzles: Though you can e-mail the tip, you can't recycle it, that is to say, it disappears after you close the app. You can't file it away anywhere.
Bottom line: It's free and offers good info.
What is it: Another app that gives you tips on helping the environment.
What sizzles: This one offers tips every time you open the app. You can learn things such as washing clothes in cold water cuts 2 pounds of carbon dioxide per load. I do like that it lists the tips so you can refer to them later.
What fizzles: You can't share your knowledge. There's no e-mail feature.
Bottom line: Again, fairly standard but decent compilation of tips. But if you're a heavy app user, it doesn't offer enough -- even for free.
What is it: A flashlight app that glows when tapped.
What sizzles: It's bright and looks just like the energy-saving bulbs.
What fizzles: Um, it's just a light. And it's 99 cents.
Bottom line: Definitely light green.
Other green focused apps available:
-- Michelle Maltais