Carbon Counter apps — Why is this not a thing?
Inspired by Product Hunt’s community engagement piece focusing on building a Greener Earth, I thought I would revisit an old idea.
I can track my calories, my emotions, how I spend my time, and every second that I spend on my laptop… but I have no idea of the environmental impact of my decisions.
Why can I not record what I have eaten and find out if I am going over my weekly carbon target?
Throughout the day, I want to be able to record what I am up to — food and travel mainly, as I assume they are the largest factors which I have full control over.
To start, does this exist already?
To do that, I looked at the Play Store, App Store and Product Hunt. The best pickings were on the Play store so I downloaded a few to try them out — hoping I won’t have to build anything!
How good are the apps?
I would classify them into types:
- A questionnaire followed by “Pay to offset” — not counting and not really encouraging sustained change
- Overly simplistic trackers (too simple for me to learn anything about my habits) — Not quantifying the impact well enough for me to be encouraged
- Dazzlingly complex (the data you need to put in is unmanageable, or the targets suggested are unattainable) — To much of a barrier to start
There was no goldilocks app here.
Some were also very invasive — needing email addresses, passwords and phone numbers just to sign up!
Yayzy looks good as it is mainly automated. It looks at the things you buy with your bank account and estimates the the carbon to be proportional with the companies impact and amount spent.
But it needs to have access to your bank account from the beginning and establishes no trust or any way to not do that. So I didn’t fully try it…
Meatless is interesting. It only cares about whether or not you ate meat today. If you did, how much? It then compares you to the average consumers expenditure of carbon to tell you how much you have saved.
But it is not put in easy terms to understand the positive impact — it just focuses on the streaks. It also ignores anything to do with travel.
I also found North. It is very similar to Yayzy — link North to more apps like Uber, Tesla and your bank account. From all of these it would estimate what you are using without you needing to record.
But North was sunset in 2020 as they had no monetisation.
So what do I think is missing?
I want to be able to record:
- What I have eaten throughout the day
- What transport I am taking
These, as I understand it, are the largest factors that contribute to our individual carbon footprints that we can control.
I want to know:
- how much smaller my footprint is compared to different personas 🦶
- how many animals I am saving from slaughter 🐷
- what purchases/activities are surprisingly carbon-ific 🤯
- The impact of packaging of the things I buy ♻️
- If I wanted to be net zero, how much would it would cost me 💰