Over the last few weeks, we have tested apps that promise easy, quick help when it comes to conscious consumption. Here are our results and tips.
Think Dirty allows you to check what’s really in your cosmetics. EcoGator provides insight into energy-efficient household appliances. The web plugin aVOID helps you buy clothing that has not been made using child labour. These are just a few of the apps that can help you lead a more conscious and sustainable lifestyle. But how helpful, user-friendly and transparent are they really? The RESET editorial team put a few of the most well-known apps to the test.
We found that many of the apps we tested didn’t meet our criteria, either partially or at all. As a result, our conclusion is somewhat of a mixed bag. Often, the apps were not completely up to date or were filled with useful content that wasn’t adapted to display on a smartphone. Others were not transparent enough or their product catalogue came up short.
A quick disclaimer: it must be stated that a lot of the English-language apps tested were more suited to very specific markets (USA, Canada, UK), meaning that they understandably might not be so applicable for use outside of these areas (the team was based in Germany and Brazil at the time of testing).
So Many Apps – but Do They Live Up to the Hype?
“We were delighted to discover so many apps in the green lifestyle area. It became evident that a lot of apps have room for improvement but there are still a few we recommend using,” RESET’s editor in chief, Sarah-Indra Jungblut, states.
From our point of view, apps have a decisive advantage when it comes to motivating and informing users. Many of us know about climate and environmental problems that are caused by our consumption rates and patterns. Despite this, it’s hard to make changes and determine and verify our knowledge and actions in this regard. Where does this come from? “This relates to behavioural psychology,“ Boris Demrovski from CO2Online told us via interview. “If, over a long period of time, I become used to a certain behaviour and doing things a certain way, it is really hard to change this behaviour – even if I know that it is not really right.”
This is where apps make the most sense; one the one hand, they provide quick and easy access to a lot of helpful information, on the other hand, they can use interactive features or gamification elements to demonstrate and encourage other behavioural options in order to help amend our habits long-term. This is where these handy pocket helpers offer the most potential.
Beyond this, it is expected that, in the next few years, there will be lots going on in the field of sustainability apps. “Barcode scan apps in particular significantly encourage sustainable lifestyles and conscious consumption. In our view, this is where the biggest potential lies,” says Uta Mühleis, founder and managing director of RESET.
Our Suggestions for Sustainability Apps
You want to get rid of your old fridge but don’t want to get a new energy guzzler? The app EcoGator could help you make the right choice.
What to do against child labour in the fashion industry? The plugin aVOID filters your online shopping so that you can “avoid” buying items of clothing that have been produced under exploitative conditions.
Think Dirty is an easy-to-use, sleek app that helps users find out about the ingredients in their cosmetics (with regards to hormonal impact, allergies and more) and provides lists of alternative products with safer ingredients.
The Good Fish Guide is a useful app to have with you in the supermarket. It provides helpful information about fish stock sustainability and gives users insight into which seafood is best to buy.
These are the four apps that really convinced us with their functionality, currency and transparency. This does not mean, however, that the other apps we tried weren’t helpful in some way. You can find an overview and our results here: The RESET App Check: Shopping Responsibly with the Right Apps.