Anxiety, Decluttering, Mindfulness, Minimalism, Zero Waste Living

11 of the best FREE apps to help you live a more mindful, minimalist, & eco-friendly life

Part of living more mindful, minimalist, and eco-friendly living means reducing – a term I call ‘reduction-based living’. Reduction-based living (mindfulness, minimalism, anxiety management, and zero waste living), like any lifestyle change, can have challenges. And while overcoming the challenges are so worth it, I’m all about introducing a little help where I can. 

And for the purpose of this post, that help comes in the form of apps for your phone or other electronic devices. 

When I was putting together this post and going through my phone, I thought I’d maybe have five or so apps to share that I use. I was surprised to see I use 11! 

These apps are such great resources to help you on your own reduction-based living journey. Bonus: they ALL have a free option, making them accessible to anyone who has an electronic device. 

I also, probably not coincidentally, have posts that correspond to each other apps which I’ve provided with the description of the app and my review. 

So, without further ado, here are the apps!

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Forest

The Forest app is one that helps with productivity and detaching from social media and instead growing a tree! Basically, you set a timer on the app, and in the time you grow a virtual tree. If you leave the app within that time, your tree dies (there is a 10-second period of time to reset the timer if you made a mistake initially.) You can earn points which, in the free version, you can redeem for other types of trees. 


If you upgrade to the paid version (which is only $2), you can redeem those points for a real tree planting through their partner organization ‘Trees for the Future’.


Additionally, the paid version has a ‘group’ option, meaning your family and friends can grow trees at the same time. One other paid perk is that there is an option to select some apps that are ‘allowed’ during the tree growing session. For example, because I have a kid and may need to be available in case of an emergency, I’ve allowed my text messages and Facebook messenger. Of course, that doesn’t mean that I have to respond if a message comes through; just that I won’t kill my tree if I leave the app for the message. There are some other features but these were the three that made the decision for me to upgrade. 



Review: I’ve tried other productivity and time-tracking/app-tracking apps, and none have really resonated with me in a way that this one does. I mean, who wants to kill a tree? Plus, I want to grow my forest and points so I can redeem them for a real tree, so I find myself using it a lot more than other apps. Overall, I would highly recommend it!


Cost: Free, with the option to upgrade for $1.99

Available on: Android and Apple

Related post: 7 Ways to Detox from Social Media


Gratitude App

It’s probably no surprise that there are a lot of gratitude apps available for use. And while that’s not bad, it can be hard to know which one works best for you. This particular one offers a private gratitude journal (you can lock it), an affirmation section, and a daily motivational quote. One piece that really stood out to me was the option to set your own reminders to write in the gratitude journal and/or look at your daily affirmation. 



Review: Like the app I talked about above, I’ve tried a handful of gratitude apps before, and haven’t stuck with any of them. This one, however, is one that I’ve been contributing to regularly. I like the ease of use, the fun but relaxing colors within the app, and I LOVE the affirmation component. 

I have four reminders set: three for gratitude throughout the day and one for my affirmation. I like that it’s quick and easy to make a journal entry. 



If you’re looking for an easy and fun gratitude app, I would recommend checking this one out. 

Cost: Free, with the option to upgrade for other components

Available on: Android and Apple

Related post: Why you Need More Gratitude in your Life Right. Now.



Toss: Declutter Fast and Easy

‘Toss’ is a perfect solution for anyone who is having trouble decluttering on their own – either because of motivation or time. It is also great for people who just want a daily reminder to look through a small area of their house. 

Each day, ‘Toss’ recommends a specific thing to declutter – something that can be done within just a few minutes. For example, at the time of this posting, my “assignment” yesterday was jackets. Today, it was perfume/cologne. 



After you declutter, you can complete the assignment. The app will prompt you to enter in how many things you decluttered, and it keeps a running total of everything you’ve decluttered since using the app.  

You can skip a day/assignment which will pull up a new one, but you are only allowed a certain number of skips, so plan accordingly. 



Review: Even though my family and I have been decluttering for a few years now, and have gotten rid of over 150 large boxes of stuff and sold countless more, I still find value in this app. I consider myself in ‘maintenance’ declutter mode, so I appreciate the daily tasks which don’t take much time. I would consider this app useful for anyone who is just starting out with decluttering all the way to a ‘seasoned’ declutter-er. I think there is value for everyone. 

My biggest complaint is the verbiage. As someone who advocates and tries as much as possible to responsibly declutter versus just throwing everything away or immediately sending it to a thrift shop, I feel like the word ‘toss’ encourages the opposite. According to their website, they use ‘TOSS’ as an acronym for ‘Time, Organization, Simplicity, and Serenity’. I get it, and it’s a personal thing, but something I wanted to point out. 

Cost: Free

Available on: Android and Apple

Related post: The Eco-Friendly Magic of Tidying Up


Insight Timer

Insight Timer is an app that provides free meditation for anyone who is interested in it. Not only are there meditations, but there are courses, music, chanting, self-guided, and more. Plus, there are kid-specific resources. If you’re using the free version, you can search for meditations in a variety of ways; most popular, guided, topic-specific (anxiety, sleep, etc), time, or by teacher. You can cannot with others if you want, but it’s not mandatory. Another feature is that the app will count up how many days in a row you’ve meditated, which I personally find motivating. 



Review: I’ve been using Insight Timer for almost a couple of years, and I love it. I’ve tried trials of other meditation apps, and while I liked them, I found more value in the vast variety of meditation options Insight Timer offers. Plus, I love that the company makes a point to make meditation accessible for everyone. Additionally, I love that you can bookmark your favorite meditations, and/or follow teachers you enjoy to see when they release a new one. 

My only complaint would be that while the app is easy to navigate and use, I find it kind of cluttered with the community component. It isn’t enough (obviously) to sway me away from the app, but I find that it’s not something I personally use or need. 

Cost: Free, with the option to upgrade for $60 a year for premium meditations, courses, playlists, and to help keep meditation free for all

Available on: Android and Apple

Related post: 2-Minute, Self-Guided Mindfulness Meditation – Autumn Glow



Olio

“When did sharing food become weirder than wasting it?” 

That’s Olio’s slogan, and one that I love. Olio’s mission is to connect community members to each other and to businesses that have food to give away, in order to prevent unnecessary food waste. Additionally, businesses/restaurants can partner with Olio, who facilitates food pickup through their ‘Food Waste Heroes’ program. Often a hurdle in reducing food waste is transporting the food from point A to point B. Olio is looking to close that gap. 

Review: Unfortunately, Olio is not super active in my community, but I’m still signed up and have notifications on. I do see more and more people giving away food on Facebook Marketplace so I think the desire to share food is there, but the app hasn’t gained awareness. However, I know it is super active in other places of the country and world. I’m looking forward to it becoming more and more active in my area. 

Cost: Free

Available on: Android and Apple

Related post: How to Plan your Meals in Order to Reduce Food Waste (and Save Money)



ShareWaste

Share waste connects community members together with a common goal of composting. When you sign up, you select whether you have compost materials to share, or if you are a compost host, meaning you are accepting compost materials. This is a great option for anyone, but especially for people who live in an area where they aren’t able to compost for whatever reason. It is also great for people like gardeners who may need more compost materials than they can produce. 

Review: I signed up as a compost host, meaning I accept compost materials, but am on a hiatus during the winter as my compost pile can’t handle any more materials at the moment. Additionally, our city recently implemented two drop-off locations and many people utilize those. However, as I said above, this is such a great resource for those who aren’t able to house their own compost bin! I would highly recommend signing up to check and see if you have people using the app in your area. 

Cost: Free

Available on: Android and Apple

Related post: The Ultimate Guide to Composting (in Any Sized Space)



Nextdoor

This may be a surprising one on the list, but hear me out. One thing I’ve learned in living a reduction-free lifestyle is that community is a key piece. Not only can you utilize community for resources, but we aren’t going to tackle the climate crisis or any other big issue as a single person. Nextdoor is a great place to build community. You can talk with neighbors about things happening in your local area, sell items (hello, decluttering), find items you need secondhand whether you’re buying or borrowing, and find local events. 

Review: I use Nextdoor often – getting a digest each day of things talked about. I also scour it for items I am looking for when I look secondhand. Additionally, I’ve sold items through Nextdoor too. It’s great because since people are in your area, you don’t have to go far to meet up. 

Additionally, I’ve met other moms through Nextdoor and joined a local moms group. Last year, we had a terrible winter where everyone had ice dams on their roofs (I won’t get into the logistics here but will tell you they aren’t good.) The local stores were out of all materials to clear said ice dams, but the community came together and shared resources through Nextdoor. 

I think you get the point. 

Check the app and see if there are others in your area using it. If not, you could do like someone in my neighborhood did. She mailed a little postcard with the neighborhood link to all the houses in the area, inviting them to join! 

Cost: Free

Available on: Android and Apple

Related post: 9 (free) Community-Based Actions You Can Do To Combat Eco Anxiety, Eco Guilt, and Eco Grief



Amazon Kindle

I’m slowly moving away from Amazon, with the exception of this app. While I no longer buy books off Amazon, my library offers e-books and sends them through the Amazon Kindle app. If you don’t want or don’t have to use the Amazon Kindle app, and can use another one for e-reading, do that! You can even read e-books on a desktop browser. 

I’m sure you know what this app does. Allows you to read e-books. Reading e-books is a great way to learn more about reduction based living (mindfulness, minimalism, anxiety management, and zero waste living.)

Review: I use this app often for e-books I get from the library. While I prefer reading physical books, I do occasionally get an e-book, and this app does the job. 

Cost: Free

Available on: Android and Apple

Related post: 26 Mindfulness, Minimalism, Anxiety Management, & Zero Waste Living Book Recommendations



Poshmark

Decluttering your closet? Looking for clothes for your kids or you? Poshmark is a great way to sell or buy things second hand. In order to sell, you create an account, upload photos of your clothes, and add them to your ‘closet.’ You get to set the price. Poshmark does take a chunk, but they tell you how much you would earn so you know. 

Once your item sells, you download a pre-paid postage label and mail the item. Once the item is received, the person accepts or declines the item. If they accept it, you get paid either in the form of Poshmark credit or money transferred to the bank. The buyer can then rate you and your ‘closet.’ 

Buying works as described above (except in opposite order, obviously). One nice feature is that you can ‘offer’ a price to the seller. The seller has 24 hours to reject or accept. If they accept, the sale automatically goes through, so don’t put in an offer on a bunch of products unless you’re planning on ordering all of them. 

As a buyer, you can also ask questions of the seller and the item before purchasing. 

Review: I’ve been a buyer and a seller on Poshmark, and have had a good experience. I really like that as a seller, you don’t have to worry about figuring out shipping costs in your price since you get the pre-paid shipping label automated for you. It’s pretty slick for me to just package up the item, attach the label, and drop it off at the post office. 

The only negative I have is as a seller, most of the items I’ve sold have gone for a lot lower than what I had hoped. For example, I had a brand new pair of Abercrombie jeans that I received as a gift a few years ago that didn’t fit (this was when I was still in my ‘getting my pre-baby body back’ mode). I had them posted at $25, which meant I would get $20ish. But they wouldn’t sell. When someone offered me $20, I accepted the offer because I wanted to get rid of them. Honestly, I feel like they should have gone for a lot more, but it is what it is. I was just happy to get something and get them out of my house since I wasn’t wearing them. I feel like this is common across any second hand selling app, though. 

Cost: Free to download the app. Poshmark does take a cut of any sale.

Available on: Android and Apple

Related post: How to Declutter your Closet for Good (+ Save Money and Reduce Waste)



Stitcher / Spotify / iTunes

Podcasts are one of my favorite ways to get reduction-based living inspiration. There is definitely no shortage of podcasts, and also no shortage of ways to listen. You can even listen to most through a desktop browser! 

To use, search for the podcast title in the search area, and select the episode you want to listen to. You can also subscribe to a podcast and get notifications every time an episode is released. 



Review: I personally use Stitcher and Spotify (the latter for those that aren’t on Stitcher) as I have an Android. Both are easy to use and navigate. A couple of things I don’t love about Stitcher is that their search function is kind of hard to use. If you don’t have the podcast name EXACTLY right, it won’t pull up anything. 

Another thing I don’t like is that it seems to be harder for podcasts to be on the platform, because there are a handful of ones I listen to that aren’t (hence, the Spotify option.) I would love to have all the podcasts I listen to in one app. 

The final thing I don’t love about Stitcher is that it is really hard to figure out how to leave a review for the podcast unlike iTunes. Overall though, these things aren’t enough to keep me from using the app. 

Cost: Free to download the app. Some offer the option to upgrade to a higher level for a price. 

Available on: Android and Apple depending on the platform

Related post: 5 Mindful and Intentional Living Podcasts You Need to Know About



Weather Underground

Another app that may seem questionable why I have it on this list at first glance, but again, hear me out. Getting outside is so important! Not only for physical and mental health, but also for creating that connection to nature and our earth. 

I also find that it’s a great way to get away from the hustle and bustle of life, our screens, demands, and anything else that may stress us out. 

Like any weather app, it’s easy to use by selecting your location (or a location you’ll be visiting) and that’s it!

Review: There are many weather apps, but I personally like Weather Underground. Fun fact, I was a meteorologist major for a hot minute before switching to environmental geography. I’ve always loved weather. Weather Underground provides basic enough weather predictions that I can take a quick glance at what the weather is going to be, or enough ‘intermediate information’ (graphs, charts, etc) that I can geek out on if I want. 

Cost: Free

Available on: Android and Apple

Related post: Plogging: What it is and how it can help the earth and your anxiety



Ecosia

Last but not least, Ecosia. You may have heard of it before, as it is becoming more mainstream. Basically, you download the browser extension for your desktop or the app for mobile, and use it to search as you would Google. Ecosia makes money from search ads, and uses that income to plant trees all around the world. The search engine also runs on 100% renewable energy. 

Review: Overall, I love Ecosia and use it for almost all my searches. I have found that it isn’t quite up to Google standards for everything, but it does the trick for most searches. If the Ecosia results don’t turn up something I’m looking for, I’ll switch to Google, but then be sure to go back to Ecosia. 

The app is easy to download on your phone and use. You just download as you would any other app, and that’s it. You don’t have to create an account or anything. It’s great and I would highly recommend it.

Cost: Free

Available on: Android and Apple


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Rachel
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I can’t wait to start using some of these apps! I just downloaded the Forest App, the Gratitude App, & the Insight Timer. I have a variety of a couple of these things already, but I’m always pumped to try new things! 🙂 thanks for sharing!