This was supposed to be a quick post as I came across an app that felt too good not to share, this then led me down the rabbit hole of the internet and finally I think it might be rather long!
Maintaining and continuing to improve your English means trying to add it into your normal day in as many little ways as possible, these apps are a great way to focus on you, the world and our community while also improving your English. Win win!
It isn’t a complete list at all, and I’ll keep adding to it so please tell me if you have any additions or any experiences with these apps your self, all comments welcome!
Whilst not strictly an app, but actually a search engine - Ecosia is a fantastic way to plant trees by doing nothing. I installed it as my homepage a few months ago and have racked up 2000 searches in the last few months - as each 45 searches = one tree being planted, that means I’ve ´planted´ 44 trees - not a bad way to balance my hours lost on twitter and instagram!
I haven’t been using it on my phone for 2 reasons, the first that I was too lazy to reenter all my passwords, the second is that initially it just wasn’t as good as google at finding the things I wanted. That might actually be a good thing, as from what I understand, google is so great at knowing what I want because it’s basically listening to and rifling through all my conversations, emails, interactions etc. So Ecosia is winning on the privacy front too! Also the searches have massively improved the longer I use it, so today I’ll change over to Ecosia on my iPhone too. I’ll let you know how I get on!
In their words:
‘You search the web, we plant trees
Searching with Ecosia is like searching with any other search engine, with one major difference. We use the profit we make from your searches to plant trees where they are needed most.’
You also get nice video updates when new things happen on their youtube channel here.
Poverty porn, this isn’t. It’s a group of people putting their money where their mouth is. While politicians have had twitter spats and parties have come and gone, Ecosia has been quietly planting forests and improving the world quietly since 2009. Very inspiring stuff:)
2. Irecycle is only for the states at the moment but there’s still plenty of ideas in the app and on their site. Worth downloading if you’re ever not sure how or what to recycle.
(For my first year in Spain I thought ‘papelera’ written on the bins in the metro meant that they were paper recycling only, so I was carrying my banana skins around until I found a bin that looked appropriate. Not good and more than a little embarrassing! Do I still get points for trying?!)
3. Joulebug helps you to save money and rewards you for making sustainable choices. It has challenges, community and is a nice proactive way to start taking sustainability steps (and practise your English!)
4. How Good - rates your food choices quickly and easily based on their sourcing, production and organisation. It helps you to make better choices with your money. I strongly believe that we have power with how we spend our money, you only have to look at H & M one of the biggest fast fashion culprits introducing recycling initiatives!
Apps to cut down on food waste:
Yo no desperdicio Members send pictures of food products and their best before date to the app, you reserve it and collect. Simples! Perfect for clearing out the cupboard for the 10kg of rice you have because you buy one every time you go to the shop….. or is that just our house?
Ni las migas works by connecting shops & restaurants whose food is going to be thrown out at the end of the day but is perfectly edible. You can see what is nearest to you through the app, reserve it, pick it up and give it a new life as your dinner!
In their words: 'We're fighting food waste by providing stores with a free platform to sell their left over food - instead of just throwing it away.
Similar to ni las migas but European rather than only Spain, you reserve unsold food that vendors have through the app, just show the receipt and collect it when you go to the store.
Zero Waste App- So this is pretty self-explanatory, wherever you go, you can use it as your one-stop app for zero-waste cafes, markets, activities, communities.
Click on the link here to see 10 of the guardians global picks.
apps for sustainable fashion & beauty
Good on you - ethical ratings for fashion, if you haven’t seen the documentary the true cost yet then I strongly suggest you do, it raises a number of important questions to ask before you buy.
Gunas - high fashion vegan and sustainably made accessories
Marche Ethique - an ethical and vegan fashion market with no hemp to see anywhere! Not cheap, but after watching the truecost you might feel happier about spending once and buying for a lifetime rather than cheap and fast.
Lush app - Lush have taken a bashing from various sides including one well known zero waste blogger. For me they have always been on the frontline of activism, they walk the walk have pioneered things like package free products (some better than others!) Personally I’m more than happy to choose lush for my bathroom, in fact if you haven’t bought sleepy yet - go and ask for a sample, you won’t regret it!
Etsy - I’ve added this because of the huge amount of vintage clothing on here, as well as independent makers and sellers of smellies, non toxic candles etc. You can support small, local businesses (maybe not your local but somebodies local! - my favourite candles come from NYC) and buy high quality second hand too goods too so you're not contributing to the make it once and chuck it model.
apps for SELF-CARE
Headspace - if you haven’t heard of headspace yet I can only assume you are actively anti tech and anti meditation, but even so I urge you to try it, the app has come a long way since I was using it 3 years ago in Melbourne (we accidentally moved in with a swinging, psychedelic couple who spent every Monday to Wednesday in tears on their comedown - it was an experience!)
Shine - like having a cheerful American yoga instructor in your ear, I may be British and suspicious of the overly optimistic, but I’ve found my 4pm notification to take 2 minutes out and listen to a happy affirmation actually does energise and prepare me for the second half of my crazy freelancer day.
Sleep cycle - the negative of this is obviously that you’re bringing your phone into the bedroom, which is bad. However the reality is that most of us use our phones for alarms and if your house is like mine there are probably two phones (Mr Gonz reads comedians on twitter late into the night laughing to himself in the dark), we also have the 23kg pitbull with a broken leg and plastic lamp on her head to stop her scratching. So for me, a sleep app & sleepy from lush is the best way to manage in this imperfect world!
5 minute journal or paper - of course you can use a normal paper and pen journal to do this, but the idea of using an app is to support you. As you get into a new habit (I can confirm that for me 21 days is indeed about the time I need to develop and stick to a new habit!) it can be handy to use an app that will time you and remind you. The other thing to think about is that as you’ll be journalling in your second language, you may need help with the spelling and punctuation.
Breathe - very therapeutic and no-frills app to help you to slow your breathing and take stock, until I went to my first yoga class, I hadn’t realised that I was actually bad at breathing, I got very stressed trying to breathe properly, I thought it was ridiculous! Now 3 years on of slow breathing my way out of stressful situations, this is a skill I appreciate!
Yoga apps are their own category so I’ll just recommend that you start with this article here and experiment to see what suits you!
Apps for easy plant based food choices
I have to share a story with you before we go on to these apps. The other day I was running late for work, didn't have time for breakfast so I bought a cookie ….which I do a lot….. I pretend it’s healthy because it’s from a fancy baker. Anyway, I got a funny look from the guy in the cafe where I get my espresso, I didn’t realise why until I caught my reflection crossing the road where I saw myself holding my phone which has a bright blue cookie monster case and eating a giant cookie. I did not feel like the big solopreneur that I pretend to be and decided to make time to prep and eat breakfast at home from now on….. these apps are helping me!
Happy Cow - works globally, all you do is drop your location and it will tell you all the veggie, vegan and veggie-vegan options for restaurants, bars and shops around you. SUPER useful!
Deliciously Ella - I love this app, her ingredients are all fairly accessible and I really don’t think she’s fallen into the ‘wellness but secretly fat shaming’ group of fraudsters on instagram. I use it a lot when I’m on the metro on my way home, with no idea what to cook and need recipes I can make easily and that are going to make my belly happy instead of a quickly snaffled energy bar and stupidly expensive take away drink.
Blender Girl Smoothies - A friend recommended this (thanks Esther!) and I love it, matches your mood to the juice you should have.
Harvest (free) - tells you what food is in season and when, very handy especially for us city kids who haven’t seen an apple actually on a tree except in the movies. Lovely descriptions of how fruit and veg should look and feel if you’re not familiar with something.
Rawvana makes raw food look appealing and helps you to organise shopping lists to make prepping it much easier! (it’s not my cup of tea everyday, but definitely we could do with more in our diets!)
In the next post I’ll go through apps to maintain your digital wellbeing, but that’s a whole other story!