Monthly Archives: April 2013

5 Apps to Green Your Phone

With all of the information out there about how to “go green”,  it’s easy to think that the only ways to save the Earth involve moving backwards in time — biking instead of driving, gardening more, using less electricity — but in fact, technology sometimes makes sustainability simple. We’re attached to our cell phones all day, every day, so why not try some apps that will educate you on making more sustainable decisions?

All of the apps are free to download and (almost) all of them are available for both iPhone and Android. Check them out and let me know what you think!

1. Locavore

Availability: App Store and Android Market

What is it? The app is super simple. It has you set up a free profile (find me if you’d like, I’m GreenGatorGirl), which gives you access to a map plotting out all the local farmers’ markets, farms and CSAs. It also includes a handy chart showing which fruits and vegetables are in season right now, which are peaking right now and coming up soon. There’s also a section devoted to recipes that you can make using your newfound fresh, local produce. The “local locavores” section allows you to find other active locavores in the area and connect with them. You see which farms and markets your followers have “liked”. You can also share pictures of your latest local finds.

Why should I download it? I like it for plotting out exactly how close every farm and market is to me. So the next time I head to Union Street, I can tell which farms are closer than others. The recipes section is nice, but there are better places to find recipes, as the selection is limited.

2. Good Guide

Availability: App Store and Android Market

What is it? As the promotional video puts it, we “vote with our dollar” every time we make a purchase. Many people strive to make better decisions in the grocery store, but knowing every little thing about every product can be a herculean task. The Good Guide app helps you determine the background of all kinds of grocery store goods, just by scanning their barcodes. You can sort by issues that are important to you, including if the item in question is organic, fair trade or meets any animal welfare certifications. It also connects with the Good Guide website, which is even more comprehensive.

Why should I download it? This is a cool one. If you want to know the social and environmental responsibility of a product, this is a great way to find out in the store. I don’t yet know exactly how detailed it is, but I see a decent enough number of products represented.

3. iRecycle

Availability: App Store and Android Market

What is it? This app makes recycling a breeze. Simply select what you’re trying to recycle, and the app will suggest local spots that accept whatever you’re getting rid of, even the tricky stuff like batteries and cell phones!

Why should I download it? If you ever need to recycle anything, this app makes it so easy. It’s definitely worthwhile to keep this on your phone for when you need it.

4. Green Genie

Availability: App Store

What is it? This is the most comprehensive green living app I’ve ever seen. With Green Genie, you have a world of information about any eco-friendly subject you desire. It has lists of companies, organizations, projects and blogs for your perusal. There’s also a glossary to define all the words that are casually thrown about in the sustainability community. There are hundreds of projects, sorted by size, difficulty, location and how much good they’ll do. This is a fun app to explore and learn from.

Why should I download it? If you’ve ever been curious about something in the sustainability community, this is the app to sate that curiosity. Plus, it’s free!

5. Lightbulb Finder

Availability: App Store and Android Market

What is it? Knowing that using CFL and LED lights is more sustainable is simple. However, finding the exact replacement bulb sometimes isn’t. Lightbulb Finder is a free app that helps consumers find the better lightbulb to replace their old one. It’s highly customizable and comes with a host of recommendations. It even lets you name and save your specific lightbulbs so you can easily re-find the bulbs when the time comes to replace them again.

Why should I download it? If you have plenty of lamps with many strange bulbs, this app comes in handy, especially if you own your own home.

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Categories: green tech, products, Tips | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Recycling Tips

Alachua County is great at recycling, but what about you?

The numbers are in! Alachua County  has had the highest recycling rates in the state of Florida two years running. That’s a whopping 50% of all solid waste recycled. Even the next runners up, Lee, Brevard and Marion counties, are a whole five percentage points behind.

That effectively makes Gainesville one of the most sustainable counties in Florida. Pretty cool, right? What’s even cooler is knowing that the state of Florida has even bigger dreams.

Florida has a goal to recycle 75% of all waste in every county by 2020. Impossible? Maybe. On the right track? Absolutely! Lofty goals like these push everyone involved to act aggressively to meet them, and that’s exactly what’s going to help our county, our state and our world become more sustainable.

But why is recycling important? For one thing, by reusing materials, we cut down on how many new materials we need to harvest, including trees, water and oil. By recycling, we lessen groundwater leaching from landfills and air pollution from incineration. Recycling literally makes the planet a cleaner place to be.

You can help Florida reach this goal by recycling as much as possible at home, at school and work. Recycling just one ton of paper saves  17 trees, 6953 gallons of water, 463 gallons of oil, 3.06 cubic yards of landfill space and 4077 kilowatt hours of energy. UF recycles over 2,000 tons of paper annually from campus. So next time you go to toss an old exam, aim for a recycling bin and let that scantron live on to terrorize someone else.

If recycling still confuses you, or you just need a refresher, here are some helpful hints for what goes in the bins:

In the blue bin:

  • Glass Bottles and Jars
  • Plastic Bottles, Jugs, Jars & Tubs 
  • Steel/Tin Cans (empty aerosol included)
  • Aluminum Cans
  • Gable top and Aseptic Cartons (milk and juice containers, with or without the screw-on tops)

But what about the caps?

In order to get your recyclables in perfect condition for the bin, remove all caps from plastics. Plastic bags, trays and styrofoam are not accepted in the bins, so try and use less of them in general. Jars, bottles and aluminum cans should be rinsed and have the lids removed. Put the aluminum can lids inside the can for safety.

In the orange bin:

  • Newspapers/Magazines/Catalogs
  • Telephone Books/Manuals/Paperback books
  • Paper Bags/Wrapping, Packing & Shredded paper
  • Corrugated Cardboard & Pasteboard (including clean pizza boxes)
  • Office Paper & Junk Mail

For paper products,

Place the blue bin on top of the orange bin to protect your paper from the wind and rain. Remember not to include any plastic bags or foil wrappers. Please put shredded paper in a bag so it doesn’t fly away.

However, pizza boxes are a special case. College students go through a fair lot of them, but most people have no idea that they are not recyclable if there’s any food contamination on them. So if your pizza box is a bit too greasy for the streets, why not try something more fun?

Categories: Tips | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

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