10 of the best apps for eco-conscious travellers
As responsible tourism becomes ever more popular, there are more and more ‘green’ smartphone applications available to can help you be kind to the planet on your travels. These handy apps can help you do everything from track your CO2 emissions to identify the best sustainable local produce, to report illegal wildlife trafficking. Here are 10 of my faves.
Created in partnership with Sydney’s Taronga Zoo and TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, the Wildlife Witness app allows travellers and locals to easily report wildlife trade by taking a photo, pinning the exact location of an incident and sending the details to TRAFFIC. The app comes with a list of species to keep an eye on, as well as tips on how to report incidents, and stay safe when doing so.
Green Globe – Certified Sustainably
Green Globe is a leading certifier of environmentally friendly travel venues across almost 80 countries. Via its handy app, you can click through to book at any of the listings (which come with images and Google map pinpoints), all of which are tested against 40 criteria to ensure they offer travellers the real (green) deal.
If you prefer to nosh on fresh, local produce when you travel, Locavore will be your guru. This app uses your phone’s GPS to help you find which fruits and vegetables are in-season wherever you are in the world. It also points you to the location of nearby produce markets, open-to-the-public farms, and community-supported agriculture venues.
Cost: free. For an extra fee you can also access recipes.
Green Travel Choice
Around a third of climate emissions are caused by travel. Handy then, that this app tracks your CO2 emissions for car, bus, plane, train and motorbike trips, which are logged to help you keep track of your emissions over time. Green Travel Choice is also partnered with The International Tourism Society (TIES), known for its work in sustainable tourism, and Commute Greener, which has an app that helps people change their daily commuting pattern to help the planet.
There are several great travel itinerary organiser apps on the market now, but TripIt, the first major player, remains among the best. Simply forward your travel confirmation emails to the app and it will ‘automagically’ create a digital itinerary for easy access so you don’t need to waste paper printing out all the respective elements. Similar apps worth checking out include TripCase and WorldMate.
Cost: free. For US$4.09/month you can upgrade to the Pro version, which includes real-time flight alerts and allows you to track reward-program points, among other benefits.
UNEP Carbon Calculator
Created by the United Nations, this app puts carbon emissions into perspective by calculating the habitat area needed to bind the emissions from your trip by car, train or plane. It would take a 10.5m2 mangrove forest, for example, to offset a return flight from London to New York. (A sobering thought, huh?) The app also comes with info and tips on how you can help to limit and offset your carbon emissions.
With livestock farming producing up to 50 per cent of man-made greenhouse gas emissions, going vego – or at least cutting down on meat – certainly has its benefits. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to find vegetarian (let alone vegan) restaurants abroad. Enter, HappyCow: an app that locates the nearest vegetarian and vegan-friendly eating establishments in over 175 countries. Users can also upload photos and share reviews.
Like Airbnb for sports equipment, Spinlister allows you to rent bicycles, surf and snow gear from peers (and meet like-minded people while doing so) in a growing number of cities in six continents rather than lug it around with you on your travels. The app also offers cycling trail guides to help you make the most of your eco-friendly transport solution.
Sustainable Seafood Guide
In case you haven’t heard, our oceans are in crisis thanks to a myriad of human pressures – including overfishing – that are causing entire aquatic ecosystems to collapse. This nifty app offers an insight into the sustainability of around 90 seafood species commonly found at Australian fishmongers, supermarkets, fish and chip shops and restaurants to help you make the right choices. Visit the WFF website for a list of seafood guides for other countries.
Keen to conserve paper, travel lighter, and avoid looking like a total tourist fumbling with a map on a busy street corner? Download this great maps app, which offers more than 800 city maps for use offline. For ease of use, the app allows you to organise your trips in lists, and colour-code your saves.