App-solutely indispensable


In most cases, people only need to make small changes to act in a more sustainable way in their daily lives. Smartphone apps help by providing information that encourages sustainable shopping or energy saving – or simply by just saving your time and sparing your nerves. Six ista employees and their favourites.

Apps have conquered the market. Smartphone and tablet owners now spend 90% of their time on their devices in apps – and only 10% in the browser. The US market research company Flurry published these figures in September 2015.  This trend is easy to understand: apps are generally easy to use and enable people to search and use information in a smart way. These are also the features of the six apps which ista employees present here.

How healthy are the foods I am buying?

“When buying food, I often use ‘Codecheck’, which has now become my favourite app,” says an enthusiastic Maike Böcker, dual studies student at ista. She simply scans the barcode of a product and Codecheck checks in its database with over 27 million food items and cosmetic products to see which additives it contains. “For example, I’ve found out that most well-known cosmetics contain hormonal active ingredients. That is shocking,” the 24-year-old says.

The traffic light system which classifies food according to its nutritional value is particularly practical. It signals whether the fats or saturated fatty acids contained in the food belong in a balanced diet. If the scanned product is not to be recommended, Codecheck shows alternatives.

Smart app howls when you leave your wallet lying somewhere

“When I’m shopping, I keep forgetting to take my wallet because I have so much on my mind and have to think of so many things at once,” admits Basile Dewavrin, who works at ista France in the communications department. “So I think the Woolet wallet is really a fantastic idea. It alerts the relevant app as soon as you have moved more than six metres away from it.” Then the Woolet app howls like a small dog and a message appears in the display. “So I don’t get further that the house door before finding out that I’m about to forget my wallet,” says Basile Dewavrin.

All this is made possible by small sensors in the wallet which communicate with the smartphone via Bluetooth. And the wallet is still only just under a centimetre thick. The idea for Woolet comes from a US company which received more than 330,000 US dollars from 2,600 supporters in an international crowd funding campaign so that it could realise the project. “The Woolet wallet may not be exactly cheap but it is really a cool idea,” Basile Dewavrin thinks.

Saving energy in the home long term with “ecoGator”

Barbara Wiecher, who is a senior project manager at Corporate HR, has a helpful tip for all those who want to save energy in the home. “The ecoGator app helps the user to choose energy-saving domestic appliances such as tumble dryers and dish-washers,” the psychologist explains. “With the app, I can scan the energy label when I’m in the shop and it calculates how high the electricity costs will be during the lifetime of the different models.”

To do this, the app uses the “Eco Top Ten” lists of the Freiburg Öko-Institut, which has surveyed all types of domestic appliances from washing machines, refrigerators and freezers to vacuum cleaners. “So ecoGator shows me that it pays off in the long term to exchange my old domestic appliances for new ones,” Barbara Wiecher summarises. The app is from co2online, a non-profit consulting company sponsored by the Ministry for the Environment.

Donating food by app

“At ista we attach great importance to sustainability. I also try to put that into practice in my private life as well by using the ‘Bring the food‘ app,” says Daniela Bertoli from the Marketing department of ista Italy. “If I have any food left over, I publish my offer in the app and make it visible to charity organisations or private people in the vicinity.” They can then reserve the food with just one click and are given a collection code.

Behind the app is the “Banco Alimentare” association, which has been distributing food from supermarkets or greengrocers to those in need for 25 years. If private people offer food, the association first checks the sanitary conditions. “As the app makes it so easy, I often give away food that I would normally have thrown away,” Daniela Bertoli confesses. “Over the year, it mounts up to quite a lot of food.”

Locally manufactured products


“When I go shopping, I prefer to buy articles which have been manufactured in Poland,” explains Damian Lis, a software developer at iSS Poland: “The ‘Pola’ app helps me. I simply scan the barcode with my smartphone.” Pola then rates the company according to five criteria. The app awards up to 35 points according to the share of Polish capital in the company. Companies that are registered in Poland receive another ten points on top. The app awards another 30 points when production also takes place in the country and 15 points depend on whether research & development are in Poland – and therefore highly skilled jobs are also created locally.

The app awards the last ten points if the company is not part of a foreign company. “If the full 100 points are awarded, I know that the product was really made completely by a domestic company,” says Damian Lis summarising.

Remote control of household devices

Many fans of home automation have been waiting for these small white globes. “Homey” is only slightly larger than a tennis ball and can handle all communication standards from Wi-Fi, Z-Wave and infrared to Bluetooth 4.0. That makes Homey a hub of the smart home. “Many devices and appliances can be controlled using apps, for example smart TVs, network-enabled stereo systems and even home automation systems for lighting and heating,” reports Deborah Stam, who works in Inside Sales at ista Netherlands.

You can even speak to “Homey” – and switch on the TV, regulate the temperature or put down the roller blinds. “I think the idea of sitting on the sofa and controlling everything by your voice is sheer genius,” Deborah Stam enthuses. You can also control the Dutch system from outside your home using an app. The concept found so many supporters in an international crowd funding campaign that the inventors are now putting the idea into practice. “Homey does cost 300 euros,” Deborah Stam admits, “but that is very little compared with similar systems and the white globe looks really stylish.”

picture credits: grasundsterne, shutterstock