Business & Tech

App Smart

Apps to build your understanding of the environment

GoodGuide has a database of more than 200,000 products sold in the United States.
GoodGuide has a database of more than 200,000 products sold in the United States.

Earth Day, which took place last Friday, has become an increasingly well-known event as politicians, billionaires, and others take part in building awareness about the environment. You, too, can build awareness about the environment with apps that remind you how to add a touch of green to your life.


Free for iOS and Android

GoodGuide is particularly helpful in that regard. The idea behind the app is that instead of being a slave to advertising while shopping, people can make informed choices. GoodGuide has a database of more than 200,000 products sold in the United States, including food and skin care products. It details how much particular goods affect the environment and your health, and whether the products are energy-efficient.

GoodGuide’s clear graphics and simple interface make it easy to search for a particular product. There is even a built-in bar-code scanner to find data on various items, which can be handy in a supermarket.

WWF Together

Basic level free for iOS and Android; $2 to unlock all available material


It’s sometimes easy to forget that we share our planet with other animals, many of whom are threatened by humankind’s changes to their habitats and lives. This is something the World Wildlife Fund’s WWF Together can tell you about.

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Using photos, animations, and interactive graphics, the app lays out the stories of endangered animals around the globe. The beautiful images speak for themselves in many cases, but the program also has plenty of data — for example, it points out that efforts to protect the endangered giant panda in China have helped increase the number of wild pandas during the last decade. WWF Together also has 360-degree photos of habitats, as well as educational games.


Free for iOS

#Climate is a different sort of environmental awareness app that lets you take part in activism from the comfort of your sofa or office desk. You can customize the app’s settings to be told about the kind of environmental issues that matter to you, be they topic-specific, regional, or global. It then pulls together relevant “actions” promoted by hundreds of different environmental groups.

Tapping on one of the actions reveals more information, and you can sign up for alerts on news that interests you. The app makes it easy to share information on social media, aiming to educate more people.

Earth Now

Free for iOS and Android

To get an amazing scientific and pictorial view of what’s happening to our planet, look no further than Earth Now from NASA (right), which is free on iOS and Android. This app is built around a stunning, interactive 3-D model of Earth that shows graphics of sea-level changes and other detailed information like carbon dioxide levels.


The app is designed to be a hands-on way to discover information about our planet. NASA updates the data regularly, adding up-to-the-minute content like satellite images of large storms and other major events. It’s fascinating to dial through the content, and the visuals are striking.

The Earth

Free for iOS

Lastly, check out Tinybop’s The Earth. This is a simplified version of the Earth Now app, aimed at teaching children about environmental matters including volcanos and erosion. It has a gamelike interface that uses simple but eye-catching graphics. The app does not delve into man-made environmental problems, but helps to give users a fundamental understanding of how our planet works.

The point of many of these apps is to help spur action, so don’t forget to put down your phone, too.

Kit Eaton writes on technology for The New York Times. Follow him on Twitter @Kiteaton.