7 Ways Our Smartphones Can Help Change the World

Talking about smartphones for any length of time gets depressing fast. They’re distracting, they poison the environment and the workers who make them often work in deplorable conditions. And when the majority of Americans have a smartphone, railing against their use feels like shouting into the wind. For a pick-me-up, here are a handful of ways smartphone applications are changing the world for good.

1. Reducing food waste

damaged fruits and vegetables

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We all know the world’s food waste is out of control. One-third of our food supply goes into the trash worldwide, and grocers and restaurants everywhere are throwing out perfectly good food that is simply past its expiration date or just a little bruised. The app Olio hopes to make it easier for folks to give away produce instead of chucking it.

Coined the “Craigslist for cucumbers” by the Guardian, the app made headlines in the UK last week for letting people post ads for produce on its way out for interested parties to pick up. Studies show that more than 90 percent of small businesses would recycle more if they had better resources to do so; Olio may be one solution.

2. Managing anxiety

Funnily enough, the device that causes us so much stress can also help alleviate some. Mental health apps abound, for everyone including the nearly 20 percent of Americans who have an anxiety disorder. Smartphone apps like Headspace and Worry Watch can empower people to confront anxiety through relaxation exercises, self reflection and other techniques.

3. Fighting wildlife crimes

Elephant washing in the river

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Most of us wouldn’t know how to identify a product made from a protected species off the top of our heads. Thanks to the Chinese app Wildlife Guardian, though, we can have the knowledge at our fingertips. The app helps users with zero biology background identify nearly 500 endangered animals and scores of products made from rare species.

4. Slashing litter

mongrel dog eating garbage

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Each year, taxpayers pay $11 billion to pick up garbage that people didn’t care enough to dispose of properly. Cigarette butts, paper scraps and fast food containers don’t have to scatter the ground. The app Grrbage lets folks keep track of the litter they find to help cities figure out: a) what garbage is out there, and b) what cities can do about it.

5. Monitoring species

Sunlight breaking through misty forest

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Conservationists can use as much information about the species they’re working to save as they can get. Using apps like iBats and iSeahorse help everyday people collect vital photos and other data about the wildlife they come across to aid in conservation efforts.

6. Confronting rape and sexual assault

In Brazil, 40 percent of women will be victims of domestic violence sometime in their lives. The app Clique 180 not only tracks those numbers but provides a helpline to those in need to get out.

7. Saving lives

Female doctor talking to EMTs with boy on gurney

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Of course, you won’t be able to accomplish any of the above if you’re having a medical emergency. ICEBlueButton stores your health information, so that paramedics can access important notes about medications and medical history. After all, the most important component to saving the world isn’t your smartphone, it’s yourself.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus1 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Susan T.
Susan T1 years ago

Try sutting them off!

Marie W.
Marie W1 years ago

More bad than good.

barry Werbowsky
barry Werbowsky1 years ago

Smart Phones can change the world. THEY DESTROY IT!!!!!! *HUGE SIGH!!!* Thx

Mary Crook
Mary Crook1 years ago


Ricky T.
Ricky T1 years ago

Thank you.

Alison Cowan
Alison C1 years ago

no smart anything for me that and wifi are not all that healthy.

Muff-Anne York-Haley
Muff-Anne Y1 years ago

Very odd to see Chinese and Wildlife Guardian in the same sentence! It's really an oxymoron!!

Anne Moran
Anne M1 years ago

No. 3 - Odd to see the words ''Chinese'' and ''Wildlife Guardian'' in the same sentence... - As we all know,, they eat every animal known to man...

Maxine Stopfer
Maxine Stopfer1 years ago

No smart phone for me. I don't want anything in the house that is smarter than me or that I can't easily use.