13 Apps Using Technology to Promote Sustainability & Change

Last Updated on May 2, 2023

Some of the best harmonies between technology and sustainability occur when everyday people are given the tools to make small changes in their daily lives. When combined, the impact of those two things has enormous potential. It’s all about the people power.

These new and established sustainability apps do just that; they allow any responsible traveler with a smartphone to do all kinds of things, like share a car in France, report illegal trash dumping in India, or find sustainable seafood in the USA.

Whether you’re traveling to any of the places below, or if you call one of them home, I highly recommend checking out these cool sustainable travel apps.

technology and travel

How Can Apps Help You Travel More Sustainably?

It’s no secret that travel often has a significant environmental impact. From the carbon emissions produced by transportation to the waste generated by tourism, there are many factors to consider when trying to travel more sustainably. Fortunately, a growing number of travel apps are helping travelers make more environmentally conscious choices while on the road.

What types of apps can help responsible travelers make more eco-friendly choices? Some apps can help travelers find eco-friendly accommodations. Many hotels and hostels now offer green certifications, but it can be challenging to know which ones are legitimate.

Sustainability-minded travelers should also look for green transportation options. Some sustainable travel apps provide real-time public transportation information, which can be an excellent alternative to renting a car or taking taxis. While other apps help travelers find ride-sharing options for longer trips, reducing the number of cars on the road.

Food is another area where travel can have a significant environmental impact. Add travel apps on your phone to help you find vegan and vegetarian restaurants, as well as those that serve locally-sourced food. This not only reduces your carbon footprint but can also support local communities.

Best Apps for Sustainable Travel

Travel apps can be a powerful tool for those looking to travel more sustainably. From finding eco-friendly accommodations to reducing your reliance on cars and supporting local food systems, these apps can help you make more environmentally conscious choices while still enjoying all that travel has to offer.

1. Bikemap

Global: website | iPhone | Android

Although paying for a local tour is a great responsible travel option, you can also use Bikemap to find user-supplied bike routes through some of the world’s most iconic cities, such as Barcelona, where suggested bike routes supply a truly great overview of the city I call home.

This very cool company is empowering cyclists worldwide with well over 11 million mapped cycling paths around the world. How to use this app for more sustainable travel? Responsible travelers can rent a bike when they land in any new city—and Bikemap has paths from Ireland to Israel—and then head out to explore powered by their own two feet. Worried there are no cycling routes where you’re heading? This sustainable travel app offers unique, user-generated cycling routes in 100+ countries. And if you land somewhere without one, why not help others travel more responsibly by adding it to the database.

Why support this sustainable travel app? Founded in 2014, Bikemap was created by passionate cyclists with the goal of sharing awesome routes with cyclists around the world. With nearly 8 million users worldwide, it’s a fair bet you’re going to have a good in-app experience, while also lowering your carbon footprint during your trip.

2. BlaBlaCar

Global: website

The BlaBlaCar app is an easy way to make any trip more sustainable. Rather than rent a car, carpool or use the BlaBlaCar bus along popular routes all over the world.

Since most of us aren’t up for cross-country bike rides as a mode of travel transport, BlaBlaCar is a fantastic alternative when you need something either faster or more direct than a train, and far cheaper and more sustainable than renting a car. When I was planning a long weekend trip into France from my home in Barcelona, BlaBlaCar came out far ahead of the train because it shaved many hours off of the route, and there were three different trusted carpools heading to my designation on my preferred day.

Ride sharing hasn’t taken off in the U.S. as much as it has in other parts of the world—it’s quite common in parts of Southeast Asia, Europe, and Australia. There are a few routes around major U.S. cities, but in general know that it’s a lot more common elsewhere on your travels!

Considering the company also offers bus routes along the most popular routes, it’s a no brainer to put this on your phone before your next trip. You’ll be amazed how it upgrades your transport options and adds an entirely new layer of sustainable travel.

Note that each country offers a different BlaBlaCar app.

3. HappyCow

Global: website | iPhone | Android

It’s dead simple to navigate HappyCow, and as you can see, going vegan or vegetarian still yields a ton of options—this is a look at the number of options just available in Bangkok, Thailand!

If you’re vegan or vegetarian then you may already have this on your phone—it’s a great app to have as part of a sustainable lifestyle, not just responsible travel. That said, those who embrace “Meatless Mondays” can keep up the habit on the road, while also usually discovering a fun and different side to a culture’s cuisine.

The crowd-sourced review app has extensive information that has been collected, vetted, and updated by the global community since its founding way back in 1999.

4. Komoot

Global: website | iPhone | Android

All of the many, many things in many, many countries that you can do to explore in the great outdoors with this sustainable travel app.

If travel for you is about adventuring into the great outdoors, then Komoot needs to be on your phone. This sustainable travel app offers ready-built routes through some of the best-kept secrets near you. It helps you plan your routes, whether that’s an off-road biking route or some seriously adventurous treks—and everything in between. It also keeps you safe and prepared for your sustainable outdoor adventure with information covering your route’s surface, difficulty, distance, and elevation.

Like Bikemap, this is community-sourced information, so you’re getting some of the most on-the-ground local travel information possible. Talk about insider secrets!

5. Tap Hydration & Water Stations

Global: website | iPhone | Android

It’s as simple as opening this sustainable travel app and letting it geolocate you—then walk to the nearest refill station and enjoy.

Since carrying a reusable water bottle (and ditching plastic disposable bottles for good) is one of the very first steps most responsible travelers undertake, then the Tap app should be on the phone of every sustainable traveler. Tap is on a mission to eliminate the single use plastic water bottle by connecting water to the internet. Tap offers more than 250,000 locations in 100+ countries where you can refill your water bottle for free. It’s that simple. Open the app and find a water fountain or restaurant offering free, fresh, clean drinking water.

6. Localvore Passport

Global: website | iPhone | Android

Localvore is a free app that helps users find fresh, local produce markets, open-to-the-public farms, and community-supported agriculture venues. The app uses a phone’s GPS location to provide a list of nearby food providers, and it also offers seasonal recipes to help users cook with the produce they purchase.

While the app is free to use, a paid membership offers access to special discounts and giveaways. Localvore is perfect for responsible travelers who love exploring a good farmers markets and eating at restaurants that use local produce, which reduces waste and supports local communities.

7. BookDifferent

Global: website

Apps like BookDifferent make it easy to find eco-friendly lodging options that are verified by third-party organizations—powered by the megastar in hotel bookings, Booking.com, it’s a lot easier now than ever to choose more sustainable accommodations.

8. AWorld in Support of ActNow

Global: website | iPhone | Android

Learn how to live the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals with the official app. This sustainable travel app encourages individual travelers (and anyone) to take action against climate change and live sustainably.

A Certified B Corp, the app provides daily tips to reduce one’s carbon footprint and helps track habits and activities to see detailed metrics of CO2, water, waste, and energy impacts. It features community challenges, educational storytelling, and helps discover nearby events and cleanups.

The app is the official platform in support of ACTNOW, the United Nations campaign for individual action on climate change and sustainability, and uses Impact Engagement methodology to generate real change. The app is a platform for learning, taking action, connecting to a global community and living sustainably one action at a time with thousands around the world.

9. FairTrip

Global: website | iPhone | Android

Reinventing the travel guide, FairTrip is an app dedicated to sustainable travel. It allows responsible travelers to discover authentic and impactful places that have been selected for their positive social impact and support for the local community. Users can book accommodations, restaurants, and experiences directly from the app, with 10% of the app’s revenue being donated to impact projects in developing countries.

The app also allows users to share new places with the FairTrip community, which are validated by the FairTrip team before being added to the app. Users can also follow their favorite FairTrippers to find their favorite spots and never miss their new discoveries. With over 3,000 places referenced all around the world, FairTrip aims to promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth through responsible tourism.

10. Global Yodel

Worldwide: website

When I travel, one of the first things I like to do is figure out what the locals like to do and where they like to do it. Locals have the best insight into their city, and following their lead has led me on some awesome and unexpected adventures. Global Yodel is an app (and site!) to connect travelers with a local’s perspective.

It’s part social media platform and part database of destinations around the world. With close to 1,000 places covered—from New York City to rural Australia and lots of places in between—Global Yodel is still growing. Have some knowledge to share? Check out their website for how to get featured.

Best Sustainable Lifestyle Apps From Around the World

11. iRecycle

USA: website

Currently only for the USA, iRecycle hopes to expand soon. This sustainable lifestyle app helps you recycle virtually anything in your area. Have you ever tossed something in the garbage only to be plagued with the thought “Hmm, can that be recycled?” Most of the time, the answer is yes, but few of us know how or where to do it. Enter: iRecycle! It turns out, you can recycle anything from paint cans to old CDs. The simple-to-use app helps you figure out where and how!

12. Swachh Bharat

India: website

This is one of my favorites new technologies. India is an amazing country—the food, the culture, the language, the people—I could go on. One of my favorite things about India is the thirst for knowledge and drive for improvement from the locals living there. India is known as the “Start-Up Capital of the World” for good reason. There is something invigorating about seeing so many people passionate for change.

I came across Swachh Bharat at a social enterprise event in Bangalore. The app’s simplicity and the practicality of the idea impressed me. Swachh Bharat is Hindi for Clean India. Across India, there are a lot of issues with infrastructure keeping up with the growing population. In most places, they have very poor trash collection/waste management systems. This, paired with a lack of education on recycling and litter prevention, leads a lot of trash. People throw candy wrappers and soda bottles on street and dump household trash on their corner, all of which is less than pleasant. It’s also illegal. Swachh Bharat allows users to take a geo-tagged picture of pesky, constant garbage piles. The app then routes that photo to the appropriate municipal department to both it clean up, and offer better solutions (dumpsters, recycling bins, etc.).

13. PaperKarma

USA: website

This is another app only available in the USA, however, PaperKarma has big plans. According to its website, for every 19 pieces of mail that the average person receives, only one piece is personal mail. The rest is thrown out, most unopened.

With PaperKarma, you take a picture of the address section, click submit, and the app automatically takes your name off whatever list it is on. It’s a way to unsubscribe from that junk mail arriving in your mailbox. The stats in PaperKarma’s infographic below are a great summary of the environmental problems caused by all of that junk mail.

Earth-Day Infographic


With reporting by Cindy Vegetabile and Shannon O’Donnell