10 Apps For A Zero Waste Lifestyle

During Plastic Free July, we helped you put together your own Zero Waste Kit to stay waste-free on the go. But if we want to drastically cut back on the amount of plastics entering and destroying our waterways, the plastic free lifestyle has to extend far beyond July into all the other months of the year. 

From purchasing food to drinking water to accessing the things you need, there are zero waste (or lesser waste) ways to do it and these apps are here to help you. Not only do many of these apps help you live a more waste-less lifestyle, you'll find many have the latent function of building and bolstering community for those who use them. This in and of itself helps to cut back waste by reducing inequality within communities. 

Going Zero Waste - it's a hAPPening movement!

This handy water refill app from Toronto's The Water Brothers tells you where the nearest water bottle refill station or water fountain is in the Greater Toronto Area. With over 1800 refill stations registered in the GTA, Quench helps to promote municipal tap water as safe, reliable and convenient.

This app fits into a Zero Waste lifestyle by helping you avoid single-use plastic water bottles. If you have trouble remembering to take your reusable water bottle with you, we recommend looking at Hydaway's collapsible cup, which can fit into a briefcase, purse or backpack with ease.

The newly launched Flash Food app connects you with food in Toronto from participating grocery stores that is about to go to waste - at a discount. You can see what is available at each store, purchase it through the app and pick it up on the same day. While there are a limited number of stores currently registered, we're willing to bet money this is going to spread throughout the GTA.

Flash Food fits into a Zero Waste lifestyle because it allows us to use food that would otherwise be thrown away. 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted annually around the world, much of it days or even weeks before its expiry date. Food that ends up in landfills releases methane gas - which has 25 times the global warming potential as carbon dioxide.

Here's another food waste focused app: Foodful.ly helps you track what you put in your fridge, reminds you to eat it before it goes bad and even gives you recipe suggestions that prioritize the food that will spoil first.

The aim of the app is to help put a stop to the contribution households make to the world's food waste problem - apparently half of the $27 billion worth of food wasted in Canada comes from the fridges in our homes. In Toronto alone, single-family households are throwing out about 275 kilos each year.

Why buy new when you can trade with your neighbours for what you need? Bunz City Network is bringing back barter in a big way. Cut back on wasteful purchases and save money by trading for the things you need.

The app has a search bar where you can plug in key terms to find exactly what you are looking for. Say you are in need of a new kitchen table - put it into the search and all the kitchen tables available for trade will come up. You can specify that the app show you items within a certain distance. Mass consumption of new products is having a devastating effect on the planet - the BUNZ app helps you find what you need without creating demand for yet more goods to be made.

Maybe you don't want to own something because you only need access to it for a limited time. Peerby connects you with all the things in your neighbourhood that people have posted as available for borrow.

According to their website, 80% of the things we own are used no more than once a month. Not only is it a waste of money to be purchasing these things, mass over consumption of stuff is having a hugely negative impact on the Planet. Why bother buying that set of camping gear when you can hop down the street and borrow it for the weekend from your neighbour?

From the amazing zero waste guru and founder of Zero Waste Home comes the Bulk Store Locator. Stay away from unnecessary and wasteful packaging with this web-based app that locates bulk stores from wherever you are in the US or Canada. You can search, add and rate bulk stores, including the selection of items they have available.

You can search for stores based on the specific items you are looking for and consult a guide to learn how to prepare bulk food items. The more the zero waste community uses this app, the better it will be! Get on it!

Here's another way to avoid purchasing something new in a store while rescuing something from someone who no longer wants it. The Freecycle Network allows people to post items that they no longer need for someone else to come pick up for free.

This process saves items from being put on the curb where they might be damaged through exposure to the elements before someone happens along who wants them.And the price is right - you really can't beat free!

Shopping at local Farmer's Markets is a great way to minimize food packaging and the distance your food has had to travel to make it to your table - the more local your food is, the smaller its environmental footprint. Many of them also feature local crafters and makers, and so patronizing Farmer's Markets offers an opportunity to purchase handmade items like wooden spoons, clothing made from upcycled materials and hand-knit sweaters, socks and blankets.

The Farmstand app shows you the Farmer's Markets in your area. It will show you where they are and on what day and time they run. This is a great way to eat and shop local.

Part of going Zero Waste involves retiring your things with dignity when they are out of commission. There are apps popping up all over Canada to help people figure out where to put what. In Toronto, we have the web-based platform Waste Wizard.

Just plug the item into the search bar and the Waste Wizard will give you advice on where to donate still useable items (such as furniture, clothing, tools, etc) and where to take things for recycling. If you have items that are broken but could potentially be fixed, look for the local Repair Cafe in your area. And if you don't have one - start one!

I know what you're thinking... how is Instagram - the photo sharing and viewing app - in any way related to going zero waste? Because on that app there are many Zero Wasters posting, blogging and trouble shooting solutions for a zero waste lifestyle!

Here's a few recommendations to get you started:

This is a guest blog by @itsahashtaglife, who has been perfecting the art of online storytelling as a method to amplify the important messages of non-profits and charities in Toronto. She takes the tools and techniques of traditional digital media marketing and applies them to organizations working hard to shift our world into a new story – one that is more sustainable and supportive of people and the planet.