The 5 Best Apps for Sustainable Living

It’s that time of the week, the food shop. You’ve got your canvas bags at the ready but how can you really shop ethically when our food is riddled with palm oil and other unethically sourced ingredients. These apps are designed to help us live a more sustainable life, reducing our impact on the environment whilst we shop and go about our day-to-day lives.

  1. Giki – Sustainable Shopping App
    By scanning barcodes, Giki provides a wealth of information regarding the sustainability of your food shop. Once scanning the item, you’re presented with a badge rating that ranks the product based on various factors such as health, animal welfare and whether ingredients have been responsibly sourced. The app even suggests more ethical and healthy alternatives.ricemilk
  2. Too Good To Go – The fighting food waste app
    From YoSushi to independent bakeries, this app connects customers with food businesses who want to reduce their surplus waste at the end of the day. The food you buy is pre-packed by the restaurant and sometimes you can’t choose what you buy. However, food is priced with a generous discount and provides an ethical and cheap alternative to getting a takeaway. I am based in London so options are in good supply however for those who live outside of the main cities, I’m not sure whether the use of this service is as widespread.goodtogo
  3. Ecosia – The Eco-Conscious Web Browser
    Think of a green Google. This is Ecosia. The creators of this carbon-neutral search engine promise to plant trees for every web search completed on their browsers. They provide tree ecosia-logo-951x698.jpgplanting receipts and operate a transparent financial policy so users can see for themselves that trees are being planted. You can monitor how many trees you have planted along with keeping up to date with the company’s latest global projects. It’s a really easy way to give back to the planet whilst completing everyday tasks. 

  4. reGAIN and Not My Style – Ethical Fashion Apps
    Both of these apps encourage an ethical approach to retail therapy. reGain accepts your old clothing donations and in return, you are rewarded with discount coupons for various online and high-street retailers. It is very similar to taking your clothes to the charity shop however, you are given coupons as black-friday-fashion-friends-1345082payment for your donation. I do feel somewhat conflicted with this approach as essentially the discounts encourage the user to go out and buy more goods and in the long run may not reduce the carbon footprint of the consumer.Not My Style is fighting the repercussions of ‘fast fashion’. The app informs the buyer of how ethical brands are in terms of the treatment of their workers and their environmental impact. From here, the consumer can make an informed decision before making their purchase. For more insight into ‘fast fashion’, check out my previous post, What Could You Live Without?
  5. Tap – The water bottle refill app
    This app provides the user with a map of the nearest wateractive-blue-blurred-background-1842627.jpg refill points. It encourages using your reusable bottle as opposed to buying plastic bottled water by suggesting local businesses that will re-fill your water for free. I like this app because it encourages a community feel in the bid to reduce plastic waste. Not to mention the potential for small businesses to gain exposure with a wider audience. 

Of all these apps, I feel that Ecosia and Giki will be the ones that I use the most. It’s useful to have tools at your disposal to help us make better-informed decisions about the food we eat, the clothes we wear and our general lifestyle. Hopefully, by increasing public awareness, this might put pressure on brands to assume a more ethical approach while consumers avoid products that are irresponsibly produced.

Cruelty Free – Easy as 1-2-3

The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man.

Charles Darwin

From cosmetics to cleaning products, animal testing is unfortunately still a part of the process of bringing products to market. However, champions of ethical consumerism, such as the late Dame Anita Roddick, have made it no secret that other forms of dermatological testing can be used as an alternative. Since attempting to go entirely cruelty-free two and a half years ago, I have found myself stepping into a community of consumers who are passionate about discovering the source of their products who want to make ethical decisions before opening their wallets.

More than just makeup


My first pitstop on my quest to go cruelty-free was to check my makeup bag. Famously companies such as L’Oreal and Clinique employ animal testing in the development of their products however there are plenty of alternatives that don’t. For slightly more high-end options, brands such as Urban Decay and teen favourite, Glossier are cruelty-free, however, for more thrifty spends, Barry M and Revolution Beauty stock both vegan and cruelty-free formulas. I found it relatively easy to switch out brands for more ethical counterparts.

Once I had sorted out makeup, I then turned my attention to the bathroom cabinet. From changing toothpaste to finding new shampoo, it was starting to get harder to find reasonably priced alternatives. I discovered that Superdrug’s own branded products are almost entirely cruelty-free, making life a lot easier. I had never previously considered that items such as my deodorant would be animal tested and I felt the creeping realisation that I would have to double check everything. The Body Shop is probably one of the best-known brands for speaking out in the fight against animal testing so needless-to-say they are a good option when looking for alternatives. Equally, Lush boast 100% Vegetarian cosmetics along with their fight to ban animal testing. They also attempt to reduce plastic waste by developing packaging-free items. I do feel that their price point can be a little steep for everyday essentials, however, their ever-growing popularity on the high street is hard to deny.

Cleaning up

From makeup and toiletries, it was time to tackle cleaning products. Once I had gotten over the horror that cleaning items are tested on animals, I was determined to replace everything that I used. I instantly found out that most eco-friendly and cruelty-free cleaning brands wcleaning-hands-handwashing-545013ere in some cases double the price of items that I had been using in the past. Whilst companies such as Method and Ecover can supply anything from toilet cleaner to laundry detergent, they are certainly pricier. Their products smell amazing and work brilliantly so I always check to see when they’re on offer.

With delight, I discovered that some supermarkets have their own brand of cleaning products that are more often than not cruelty-free. So far I have found excellent items from Sainsbury’s, Co-op and Waitrose that do the job and they are much more competitively priced. The brand Astonish are also cruelty-free and vegan whilst being low priced. I have found their items in Wilkos, Poundland, and The Range.

I’m still discovering items in my flat that need replacing but I have realised that there is always an alternative to be found. With so many different ethical options on the market, why do the big companies continue to test on animals?

Why are companies still testing?

Why is it that in 2019, large cosmetic and consumer goods companies still implement animal testing? The answer to this involves a number of factors. Firstly, at its route, animal testing is employed to ensure that products are safe for human consumption. Testing for adverse reactions will reduce the likelihood that a product will cause harm to the consumer so these side effects are often searched for in animal subjects. Not only is this is inhumane, but some also question the validity and effectiveness of these tests.

Animal tests have scientific limitations, as different species respond differently when exposed to the same chemicals. Consequently, results from animal tests may not be relevant to humans, as they can under-or overestimate real-world hazards to people.

The Humane Society of the United States

Photo courtesy of The Body Shop

The second reason for implementing animal testing is to adhere to the regulations of China, which state that any cosmetics must be tested on animals before importation. By continuing to test, large companies keep the trade route open with the Chinese market, an important and valuable customer.

The good news is that some parts of the world are banning animal-tested cosmetics. Norway, Israel, and India have all banned ingredients tested on animals whilst California has passed a bill prohibiting animal testing by 2020.

Spot the signs

Bunny logos are the easiest way to spot an item that is certified cruelty free, however, these signs can vary and in some cases false. Organisations such as PETA, Leaping Bunny and Choose Cruelty Free all have their own unique logos.

Photo courtesy of

Wherever these logos are present, you can feel assured that the item is cruelty-free. Some products may have additional signs that indicate they are suitable for vegans or vegetarians. I have found other bloggers to be a great source of information regarding the constant changes in the beauty community. Cruelty Free Kitty  has a wealth of information as well as Tashina Combs of Logical Harmony, who uploads reviews and tips to YouTube alongside her blog.

No matter what your opinion on animal testing, I have found that looking deeper into the products that I use daily has encouraged me to make more ethical and in some cases, more sustainable decisions when choosing what to buy. There is still a long way to go however I have found that opting to go cruelty-free has been fairly easy and reduces my contribution to the needless testing of animals.

What could you live without?

Possessions, outward success, publicity, luxury-to me these have always been contemptible. I believe that a simple and unassuming manner of life is best for everyone, best both for the body and the mind. – Albert Einstein

Recently I found myself in a busy shopping centre whilst my boyfriend looked for the best deal on Red Dead Redemption II. “What are you here to get?” he asked as we wandered through the weekend crowds and I confessed that I didn’t really need anything. However, I still managed to waste time looking around Superdrug, H&M, and Waterstones. There must be something that I want! Thankfully for my bank account, I left empty-handed on this occasion. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.Canva - Shopping Mall, Shop Windows, Fashionable Clothes

We’ve all fallen in the trap of buying items that we don’t need. Clothes that clog up the wardrobe, shoes that rarely get worn and that curious colour of nail polish that seemed like a good idea at the time.  With the term “fast fashion” becoming a hot topic, isn’t it about time that we modify our shopping behaviour to avoid damaging the planet irreparably? With Stacey Dooley reporting that around 300,000 tonnes of clothes are dumped in landfills each year, I’m wondering how we got to this point and what we can do to stop it.

Stack ’em high, sell ’em cheap

Fashion has never been so affordable. Retail giants such as Primark, H&M and Forever 21 have made it delightfully easy for us to invest in a trend without breaking the bank. They take all the financial commitment out of purchasing something new. I’m totally guilty of being bold in the changing room but then completely changing my mind in the cold light of day and never wearing something ever again. It’s no big deal, it only cost £5.99. Clothes have become a disposable commodity as opposed to an item of worth and value.

Thrifty purchases in the UK have a devastating impact, both ethically and to the environment globally. Workers in developing countries endure poor working conditions for a measly wage, whilst the sheer volume of cotton being mass-produced is poisoning and polluting rivers across central Asia. Speaking on ‘Fashion’s Dirty Secrets’, journalist Lucy Seagle explains that “we are producing over 100 billion new garments from new fibres every single year and the planet cannot sustain that.”

So how do we stop contributing to the problem? Here are a few ethical ideas for you to consider:

  1. Research sustainable fashion brands – In order to achieve a more sustainable approach to garment production, sustainable brands can be more pricey. ZaraH&M and ASOS have all released a relatively affordable sustainable collection for those who want high street prices, however, their ranges are quite limited.
  2. Charity shop chic – Whether you choose to explore a vintage boutique or take a chance on a high street charity shop, buying used is the easiest way to buy ethically. The Telegraph provides a great list of the best vintage stores around the UK.karly-santiago-319853-unsplash
  3.  Get out your sewing machine – Adjusting and mending items of clothes will quite simply lengthen their lifespan in your wardrobe. Don’t be so quick to dispose of an item, see if you (or in my case, my mum) can breathe new life into it with some adjustments.
  4. Choose your fabric wisely – Fabrics that are essentially made from plastic such as nylon and polyester can shed microfibres into the water system when washed, harming ocean life. They also will not naturally biodegrade over time. Organic cotton, lyocell, and fabrics made up of recycled material are the way to go. This jumper from ASOS is made up of recycled polyester and plastic bottles. Amazing!
  5. Stay up to date – Journalist Lucy Siegle has created an app designed for people who want to know how ethical their favourite shops are. Not My Style is an app that will rate shops and brands based on their transparency concerning their factory working conditions. It’s only available on iPhone at the moment but will hopefully be coming to Android soon.

Shopping sustainably is great, but I’m wondering do we even need all this “stuff” in the first place?

Keeping up with the Joneses

Advertising has always played upon our subconscious desires. Whether we are targeted because we have a family, targeted because we are single, targeted because we are young or targeted because we are old, there’s no escaping it. We will always be a target for incessant advertisements and product placement. They manage to convince us that we “need” or “must-have” whatever they want to sell us and if we do buy it, our lives will be changed for the better.

Whilst researching sustainability I stumbled upon The Minimalists, two individuals who certainly don’t fall victim to the seduction of good advertising. Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus are the subject of the film ‘Minimalism: A Documentary’ where they share their simple, non-materialistic lifestyle. With capsule wardrobes and owning just a few treasured items, the pair has shifted the focus of their lives away from the consumption of “stuff” to living in the moment, pursuing their passions and reclaiming their time. Their choice of possessions certainly falls into the category of quality over quantity, as they shun impulsive shopping habits in the pursuit of items and experiences with more meaning and value.

Ryan Nicodemus’ Minimalist Living Room – Photo from

If ditching most of your worldly possessions is a bit of a radical step, perhaps consider trying out a minimalist wardrobe for size. Project 333 is a “minimalist fashion challenge that invites you to dress with 33 items or less for 3 months.” Project creator Courtney Carver says that “once you start dressing with less, pay less attention to what you are wearing, or not wearing and more attention to something more important.” Alongside project 333, Courtney offers approachable and realistic advice concerning all areas of a simple lifestyle and a truly decluttered life.

joshua-oluwagbemiga-763097-unsplashMuch like fast fashion, gadgets are becoming increasingly more disposable. With phone and gadget companies upgrading their tech constantly, consumers are disposing of their old devices at an ever-increasing rate. Wired reported in 2014, that 70-80% of old and used gadgetry ended up in landfills. In truth, do we use all the features of our smartphones as it is? Is it absolutely necessary to get the latest version?

So many changes need to happen to make a significant difference to the environmental impact of the clothing and tech industries. Companies need to become more transparent regarding the sources of their raw materials and the treatment of their workers overseas. However, more importantly, our role as a consumer shouldn’t be underestimated. It really is up to us to consume less and make better choices because whilst the demand is still high for fast fashion and the latest tech, the major brands will show no sign of slowing down. Next time I find myself in a shopping mall, I’ll try to remember to ask myself – “what can I live without?”