While the "greenness" of the iPad is debatable, and there are lots of ways to avoid ever "needing" one, it can still be a really useful tool for living a sustainable life. From helping you get around on your bike to eating veggies to understanding climate change, these 13 awesome apps will all get you on the right path.
Gardening Toolkit HD ($3.99)
Interested in gardening but don't know where to start? Tell Gardening Toolkit HD where you live and it will give you suggestions for the best veggies and herbs to get growing. You can also keep track of what you've planted and all the little tasks that are vital to a successful garden but are easy to forget, especially for a beginner.
VeganYumYum.com has been providing recipes that appeal to vegans and non-vegans alike for years, and its app version delivers the same awesome recipes. The selection isn't stunning, but they're all well written and easy to follow.
The downside is that the app is actually made for the iPhone, not iPad, so you'll have deal with a bit of a stretched screen. But the upshot is that the app is free- so if you don't like it, you haven't lost any of your hard earned dough.
If you think bikes are beautiful, you'll love Cyclepedia, the iPad app that features 100 iconic bicycles from history, all ready to be zoomed in on and rotated 360 degrees. The app also explores the evolution of the bike through the 20th century, so you can brush up on your history as well.
Bike Repair HD ($2.99)
This is the perfect app for when something goes wrong with your bike and you don't know what, or how to fix it. Bike Repair HD features 55 repair guides, with photos, and explanations for 73 different problems your two-wheeler might have. It'll cost you $2.99, but can go a long way to keeping you from spending money at the bike store.
Google Maps (Free)
For all its upside, Apple loses to Google when it comes to maps: its product has more limited zoom, fewer places show up, and most of all for TreeHuggers, there's no function for finding biking directions.
There's no official Google Maps app, but there are ways to get it. G-Whizz is free and offers all of the Google tools, from Docs to Maps G-Chat to Reader (in exchange for persistent and annoying ads).
Just Science (Free)
When it comes to climate change, there's an enormous amount of data out there, and a lot of it can seem confusing and contradictory. So if you want to have your arguments straight in order to debunk the theories put forward by deniers, check out Just Science. It presents climate data in a simple and easy to understand way, so you know exactly what's going on with the planet.
Playing with Pigs (N/A)
To satisfy an EU legal requirement that all livestock have a way to entertain themselves, Dutch designers and students created Playing with Pigs, which lets an iPad user and a pig in its pen play together.
Using the iPad, the human directs a dot of light around a touch sensitive screen in the pen. The pig gives chase and when it touches the dot with its nose, it fires off sparks. Sadly, the app isn't on the market just yet, but keep an eye out.
Audubon Guides ($30)
It's rare to see an app that costs as much as this one, or that takes up as much space- make sure you've got 3GB free before buying. But you get a lot for your money and hard drive. The app includes the Audbon guides to North American birds, mammals, wildflowers and trees. You can buy the four guides individually, but they're less expensive purchased as a group.
Design and Entertainment
Fast Company's United States of Design (Free)
Whatever your stance on buying goods that are made in the US, Fast Company will make you a more informed consumer. The free app features 76 excellent products and their back stories, all designed and produced in the country. To top it off, you get a free subscription to the magazine with each purchase.
The carbon footprint of printing books versus producing electronics like the iPhone and iPad is debatable, but if you've already bought the iPad, you should use it to save some paper. iBooks may be the best way to do it, if you want to avoid the Kindle and Amazon's spotty green record.
What better way to keep things out of the dump and going to waste than buying them secondhand? With eBay on the iPad, you can peruse the innumerable offerings, all without leaving your couch or putting an extra burden on the planet.
Solar Checker (Free)
Thinking about installing solar panels, but not sure if it's worth it? This handy (and free) app uses the iPad's compass and tiltometer to determine how much solar radiation hits your roof, and how much energy you'll be able to reap from it. It even calculates how much money you'll save by going solar.
My Recycle List (Free)
This app is straightforward, easy to use, and helpful, and the fact that it has 144 five star reviews and only a single one star review testifies to that. My Recycle List is the work of 1-800Recyling.com. Just punch in what you're trying to recycle, and it will provide the nearest facilities to do so. It's made for the iPhone, not the iPad, but there are no graphics, so stretching the screen is no big deal.