The applications – or apps – that we use on our smartphones are many and varied, with users ranging from locked-in-their-bedroom adolescents and business-professional commuters, to play-hungry toddlers and intrigued grandparents. It’s little wonder that, as of June 2015, more than 100 billion mobile apps had been downloaded from the Apple App Store.

Now, thanks to increasingly savvy and enlightened app developers, it is not just games like Angry Birds and helpful utilities such as maps and currency converters keeping us busy and distracted on our phones.

A plethora of apps have emerged in recent years designed to create positive environmental and social change in the world, one small step at a time. Here’s eight of the best apps making it harder for you to ignore just how easy it is to make a positive contribution.

1. ShareTheMeal

This app is part of a UN World Food Programme (UNWFP) project. Essentially, it’s a simple money-raising mechanism, asking app users to donate money to help fight hunger in countries that need it most. You can give $0.50 (or more) with a tap of your smartphone app – enough to feed one hungry child for a day. The UNWFP receives the funds and provides the meals, and you get to see where the meals (and your money) goes.

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2. Seafood Watch

We all know the issues associated with overfishing and the fact that some species of fish are under threat of extinction. Well this app, developed by the Monterey Bay Aquarium, takes the guesswork out of ordering fish. From abalone, cod and yellowtail, to plaice, salmon and seabass, the app ranks seafood for sustainability and health, listing good alternatives between ‘best choice’ options and ones to avoid.

3. greenMeter

Come on! We’ve all been guilty of driving erratically. This app, developed by Hunter Research & Technology, uses the accelerometers in your smart phone to evaluate just how well (or badly) you are driving, in terms of efficiency and fuel savings (and the associated greenhouse gas emissions). By calculating how much fuel your car is using, it can work out the cost and carbon emissions savings in real time, while you’re on the road. According to the app’s developer, in the first two years after launch it helped to keep 47,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.

4. Plastic Analyzer

This free app enables you to find out what kinds of plastic you are using – and whether they can be recycled or not. By carrying out a simple search for the plastic identification code, the app then indicates what products are included in the plastic object or bag that you are using – and what bin you can throw it in.

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5. Trees for Cars

This app is all about the story behind the developer. Once homeless on the streets of New York City, Leo Grand was approached by a 23-year-old engineer – a complete stranger at the time – and given two choices: $100 in cash or two months of free coding lessons. Of course, Leo chose the latter and went on to develop Trees for Cars, a carpool organiser to make it easier for New York commuters to share rides.

 

 

7. One Today

This mobile app is about inspiring you to support a whole bunch of non-profits. Every day it alerts you to a new project by an organisation that is changing the world. You can donate to the ones that inspire you the most with just one click – and help to spread the love via social media, encouraging your mates to follow your lead.

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8. eGood

eGood connects you up with companies and causes that you really care about. As a community member, you tell the app about your favourite brands and charities. In return, you get listings of businesses that meet your values – and any purchases you make via the app will see each business donating a percentage to a worthy cause, in return for your loyalty.

– This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details. 

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