Thursday, 26 March 2015

10 ways you can turn your phone into a force for good for free!

Now I'm sure a lot of you are probably very sceptical about this, but I'm going to show you how you could turn things you might already be doing into a force for good- at no additional cost to you! Many of these involve slight tweaks to your mobile phone behaviours that, once integrated into your daily life, can turn your phone into a fountain of good! 

1-  Unicef Tap Project

The Unicef Tap Project is a water aid project in which, for every 10 minutes that you have your phone flat on a surface with this webpage open on your phone, the sponsor organisation will make a donation to give someone clean water for 1 day who needs it (currently Giorgio Armani), along with a pledge from Unicef to fundraise a day's worth of clean water for every minute that someone goes without picking up their phone . Now this may not sound like a big deal, but I imagine quite a lot of people reading this leave their phones on charge overnight. It would only take 7 of us, averaging just under 7 hours sleep to give someone 10 years worth of clean water! And it wouldn't have costed us a single penny more than just leaving our phones to charge anyway.  While this idea sounds brilliant, very few people are actually taking this opportunity to do good for nothing, maybe they haven't realised that this works while you're asleep? Also be warned, if you use this while your phone isn't plugged in, prepare for your battery to be depleted rapidly! The webpage gives you all sorts of stats about the project while it's running, including how many other people are using it at the moment. Last night there were only 9 other people using this in the UK!!! That means that if the typical amount of people that read these posts all took this up for just one night, we would have increased the number of active users in the UK at least 5 times! That means that we could give someone 57.5 years of clean water in one night (assuming 7 hours average use)!!! So if you only take up one of these, please make it be this one.

2- PowerSleep

While this sounds like a fancy sleeping aid, you'd be wrong! This is a great app that opens up your phone to citizen science projects around the world, while your phone is charging overnight and connected to wifi. When you go to bed, just set an alarm in the app and plug your phone in to charge and that's all there is to it. By doing this, you allow science projects that require tremendous computing power such as cancer genetic screenings, computer modelling etc to use your phone's processing power (which would be sitting idle all night otherwise) up until the point your alarm goes off. By using this app as your new alarm app, you could be dreaming and helping save the world all at the same time! Unfortunately this is android only for now, but there are plans to bring an iOS version out soon!

3- Play to Cure: Genes in Space

Genes in Space is a neat little game by Cancer Research UK that's free to download for both Android and iOS, you're tasked with harvesting "element alpha" by charting a course through a region of space to try and collect the most element alpha possible, you then fly your spaceship through space, collecting element alpha and shooting asteroids! By doing this, you help to process DNA information that would take months for a research scientist to sift through, drastically speeding up the process of looking for DNA abnormalities in cancer patients. 

4- Loss of the Night

Loss of the night is a free app available to download on android, the app asks you to step outside between 8 and 10pm and guides you to looking at where a star should be (using GPS) and then asks how visible it is to you. This information is then sent to a sever for analysis (make sure you have a good data plan if you're going to go out of wifi range) and will help to map the extent of global light pollution, aswell as giving you an easy way of getting into the world of astronomy. If you're interested in astronomy, then there are plenty of citizen science projects that you can get involved in, the Zooniverse Astronomy Page is a great place to find a whole host of these projects that allow you to join the search to understand the cosmos. There is an iOS app that finds your location and asks you to take a picture of absolute dark (covering the lense) and then of the sky above you, in order to measure light pollution in your area. It's called the Dark Sky Meter, unfortunately it's quite expensive for some reason though. 

5- Good Guide

Good Guide is a free app that you can download for both Android and iOS that allows you to scan the barcode of over 120,000 everyday products, and gives you an idea of how good they are in terms of the environment, health and social performance. It also allows you to view recommendations and even generates shopping lists based on the issues most important to you. By shopping smarter you could make a real difference in the issues that matter to you!

6- Give as you live

Give as you live is a huge project, as part of everyclick, that has raised over £4 million for 100s of charities. You just have to install the add-on or download the app (chrome only add-on, app for android and iOS) and when you buy from any of the 1000s of major brands involved eg Amazon, ebay,, Tesco, iTunes and many many more, they will make a donation to your chosen charity (or charity of the month) as a percentage of your purchase (between 1 and 40%, typically around 4%). Now you might think that this might not raise all that much money, but you can buy furniture, holidays, insurance, almost anything through using this, and it's not at all intrusive on your shopping experience. If you go on a website for a shop that supports this, you just click a button and now anything you buy on that site contributes to your charity. Or if you search for an item on google, it shows up any stores that are participating and there is a new tab called stores that lists all the stores supporting the project that supply what you're searching for and how much they donate! They also do great guides on how to shop to maximise your fundraising! Approximately 40% of people say they use charity websites when they shop online- so join them!

This is a free app for Android and iOS by Johnson&Johnson, who will donate $1 (don't worry you don't have to be in the US to use this!) to a cause that you choose when you upload a photo (don't worry they won't be used in marketing) using the app. You can upload 1 photo per day everyday and Johnson&Johnson does not see this project ever ending. The project works by charities signing up and setting a target eg set a target of giving 2000 people clean water for a year and sight for kids has set a target of 30000 children receiving eye exams (they're closing in on the 25000 mark!), you can see more of the impact that this project has already had here. With the amount of selfies being uploaded on social media, why not make one of them do good each day?

8- Charity Miles

Charity Miles is a way of keeping track of your exercise and also raising money for a number of charities. You earn a small amount of money for each mile you run, walk or cycle (10 cents for bicycle, 25 cents for walking or running) out of the $1 million total pot. The app is available to download for free  on both Android and iOS and the project runs until the total pot has been dished out, pick up has been quite slow so there's still plenty of opportunity to raise a lot of money for your favourite charities. I personally split my donations between the Alzheimer's Association, the Leukaemia & Lymphoma Society and Stand up to Cancer. Just make sure that your phone is fully charged before you go out; as like with all of these exercise tracking apps, they eat through your phone's battery like nobody's business! 

9- NoiseTube

NoiseTube is a Sony backed free app for iOS, Android and Java based smartphones that you can download. NoiseTube is a citizen project with the aim of mapping people's exposure to noise pollution in the city. This app uses both GPS and your phone's microphone to measure your exposure to noise pollution (be warned this means it uses up a lot of battery!). The citizen science project aims to map regions of cities where noise pollution is the worst. You can chose what is recorded and whether or not it is uploaded to the server, you can also add comments on events that may have happened to contribute to noise pollution. The information gathered then goes towards developing solutions to tackling noise pollution in cities around the world. 

10- Project Noah

Project Noah was set up in 2010, making it one of the older apps on this list. It aims to create a worldwide database of animals and plants by using the scientific community, that keeps constant track of wildlife at a local and global area. It lets you use the free app to upload your spottings on the fly, and also see what's been spotted in your area recently. Alternatively, you can visit the website to upload spottings in your own time, where you can earn patches for your sightings. The project also aims to teach children about nature in their local community, you can sign up as a student here or as a teacher here. If you want to learn more about the wildlife around you, or you want to make a contribution to conserving the nature in your area, then this app is a great choice!

I challenge you to pick up at least 3 of these simple ways of doing good, personally I now use all of them except for PowerSleep (as I don't have an Android phone) and NoiseTube (as there is no way my battery can handle that) and I've had no problem fitting them into my life and I hope that you will too!

Thanks for reading, if you're still here maybe you might like, a great site for getting involved in good causes! You might also want to consider donating some cold hard cash in addition to these new practices.

Leave a comment about which project(s) you're going to support!


Post a Comment