Apps that do good
Apps exist to distract, to simplify, to help you track your life. Some apps can even earn you some cash - or help others and the planet in the process.
Or, at least, if only someone else were.
Good news: there's now an app for that. From charity-focused apps which donate when you and your friends shop to apps that earn you a few quid yourself (maternity leave essential, perhaps?) to apps that aim to do good by saving the planet in various ways, here are a few of the apps Londoners should download now.
The browsers to switch to
The privacy first web browser: Brave
Most of us are used to browsing the internet and feeling some level of frustration: the ads, the slow speed, the tracking software that follows our every move...
Brave changes the search experience: it blocks trackers for a faster search (it promises to get you to major news sources six times quicker than its competitors), and offers a more secure, more private connection so you can browse freely. Its aim is also to give publishers back their share of revenue.
Brave also has a rewards system in place for those browsing with it: you can set the number of ads you see per hour, and Brave Rewards will give you tokens when you view privacy-respecting ads, which you can give back to the sites you enjoy using (in time, this will turn into value you can spend on yourself and others, like gift cards).
The search engine that plants trees: Ecosia
Ecosia is a browsing extension you can add to Chrome that helps the planet every time you search for yet another unboxing vid for the kids (there is a benefit to those, after all!). Each time you search, the company plants a tree using the profits, and they've started their work in the communities and places that need it most, from Burkina Faso to Brazil, contributing to reforestation efforts and helping restore water cycles.
With over 15 million users, over 86 million trees - and counting - have been planted to date. Add this one to your list of sustainable swaps, along with shopping from B Corps and trying to use up your weekly shop of food instead of tossing it.
Shopping apps with benefits
Photo: Let's Bab
The curated shopping app that rewards you: LetsBab
LetsBab is an exciting new app that works like a digital mall, filled with the best curation of indie and designer labels. Founded by fashion veteran Bonnie Takhar, former CEO at Halston and Charlotte Olympia, she's used her keen sartorial eye to compile an exclusive and comprehensive selection of men's, women's, kids and lifestyle brands. You'll find everything from Matches Fashion to Sweaty Betty, & Other Stories to Axel Arigato.
The best part is that when you find something you love, you can recommend the product to your pals. Every time they make a purchase, you earn cash rewards, which you can give to charity, split with a friend or keep for yourself, all through the app.
The high street shopping app that rewards you: Kindred
With a similar set-up to LetsBab, Kindred gives users a commission of up to 40% when an item they recommend gets purchased - they can either spend it on themselves or give it to a friend.
It's the selection of brands that differs: this is your high street app, from Asos to Oliver Bonas. You'll also find a range of brands across pets, tech, travel and beauty too.
The straight-to-charity app: Elbi
Co-founded by Natalia Vodianova, Elbi makes donating to charity easier than ever. Inspired by the power of social media likes, the app features a 'Love' button - tap it and you can instantly donate $1 to the charity of your choice. There are perks for users too: you get LoveCoins with each donation - and each time your donation inspires others to give - which can be redeemed for exclusive and one-of-a-kind items from brands like Bulgari, Louis Vuitton and Supreme. The gamified ElbiDrop turns donating to charity into a competitive sport - whoever collects the most LoveCoins in a day wins.
Elbi's partnered with the new Drest luxury fashion app, so each time you click, you'll be donating to the Elephant Crisis Fund or She's The First.
The app worth trying on mat leave: Job Spotter by Indeed
This app from Indeed used to be a favourite with mums on mat leave, who would earn Amazon vouchers just by pushing their buggy around and walking with a snoozing baby. The premise is simple: you take a pic of a "Help Wanted" sign in a shopfront and submit for points (if someone else has submitted the same sign, you won't earn them, unfortunately). Independent shops earn more points than chains, but you'd be amazed how many you go through in a day while baby naps. Recent reviews have suggested it's not as lucrative as in its previous incarnation, but we figure if it's something you don't have to go out of your way for, then it's probably worth a shot.
The app that prioritises self care: #SelfCare
With a soothing voice and background noise, as well as meditative techniques, this fun app is about giving back to that most important person in our lives: ourselves.
Created by artist and editor Eve Thomas and TRU LUV founder Brie Code, this companion app centres around a character who stays home, in bed, for the day, surrounded by their favourite things like bubbles, Tarot cards and a massager, which are all used to help the character - and you - feel more relaxed and zen.
This is one for when you desperately need a 'me' day - but can't realistically take one.
The apps for food waste
Photo: Too Good To Go
The app which rescues your favourite foods from shops near you: Too Good To Go
One third of all food produced is wasted - even though there's absolutely nothing wrong with it.
Restaurants throw out perfectly tasty food at the end of the day, while supermarkets regularly reject certain food if it has a bruised or wonky appearance.
Too Good To Go has a solution with its Magic Bags, which are filled with everything from bakery goods to Sunday roasts from the pub. You can select by time of day - food to collect immediately, food to collect for dinner - and the app also recommends cafes and restaurants close by. We can't think of a tastier way to be a waste warrior.
The app which lets you share excess food with neighbours: OLIO
There's no worse feeling (these days) than realising you're about to head off on a trip - and have a house full of food that's going to go to waste. Not to worry - OLIO connects you with your neighbours to share food, and you can also use the app to share veg from your garden or bread from a local bakery. Need to get rid of some excess toiletries or clothes? OLIO helps with that, too.
Don't miss our chat with OLIO co-founder, Tessa Cook, about her favourite sustainable swaps.
The app which helps parents to declutter: YoungPlanet
Parents are constantly having to negotiate their growing child's needs, which often translates into new stuff: a highchair, a scooter, a bike. However, they also have a mountain of old stuff piling up in their homes and threatening to make them look more like play centres than grownup flats and houses. Enter YoungPlanet: this cashless app helps parents offload things their kids have grown out of, while letting them search for what they need next. Not only is it sustainable, but it can help with community building by introducing local parents to each other.