Environmental Protection? There's An App for That

Calling all developers: the EPA wants you to build apps with its vast amounts of data.

For a while now, the Environmental Protection Agency has been working to make its public data more accessible. In fact, in her "First Day Memo" from over two years ago, administrator Lisa Jackson included improved transparency as one of the main goals for the agency.

Yesterday, the agency announced a new contest that should help make its vast data sets easier to digest: The "Apps for the Environment Challenge."

Here's how they describe it:

EPA is challenging app developers to look at EPA data and come up with the best, most useful, innovative way to use, show, or combine publically available EPA data in an app. In short, we'd like you to take EPA data and show us what you can do.


So, yes, it's a contest, and if you're interested in entering, you'll have to submit something by September 16th. But for the vast majority of us out here who don't know code from Mandarin, the mere fact that the E.P.A. is encouraging the public to do this is welcome news.

There's already been some interesting work done, and even some apps. The EPA has three of its own created internally—a Design for the Environment label app, a real-time UV index, and the My Right-to-Know app that lets users log on and see what kinds of air, water, and waste hazards are nearby.

But things get really exciting when you look at the apps created by outside developers. The Creek Watch app by an IBM team encourages "citizen scientists" to collect data and photos of local waterways, and combines that with official EPA data to help local municipalities make official decisions and local citizens make recreation choices. MPGFacts gives you the latest EPA fuel efficiency data and gas mileage ratings for basically any vehicle sold in the country since 1984. MyAirQuality tells you—you guessed it!—the quality of the air, wherever you stand.

But in all, the EPA only lists eleven apps developed by outside parties that are harnessing their data. Hopefully, this Apps for the Environment Challenge will give us a heck of a lot more.

via The Howard Stern Show / YouTube

Former Secretary of State, first lady, and winner of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, sat own for an epic, two-and-a--half hour interview with Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show Wednesday.

She was there to promote "The Book of Gutsy Women," a book about heroic women co-written with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

In the far-reaching conversation, Clinton and the self-proclaimed "King of All Media" and, without a doubt, the best interviewer in America discussed everything from Donald Trump's inauguration to her sexuality.

Keep Reading Show less

Offering parental leave for new fathers could help close the gender gap, removing the unfair "motherhood penalty" women receive for taking time off after giving birth. However, a new study finds that parental leave also has a pay gap. Men are less likely to take time off, however, when they do, they're more likely to get paid for it.

A survey of 2,966 men and women conducted by New America found that men are more likely to receive paid parental leave. Over half (52%) of fathers had fully paid parental leave, and 14% of fathers had partially paid parental leave. In comparison, 33% of mothers had fully paid parental leave and 19% had partially paid parental leave.

Keep Reading Show less

Bans on plastic bags and straws can only go so far. Using disposable products, like grabbing a plastic fork when you're on the go, can be incredibly convenient. But these items also contribute to our growing plastic problem.

Fortunately, you can cut down on the amount of waste you produce by cutting down on disposable products. And even more fortunately, there are sustainable (and cute) replacements that won't damage the environment.

Coconut bowls


Who says sustainable can't also be stylish? These cute coconut bowls were handmade using reclaimed coconuts, making each piece one of a kind. Not only are they organic and biodegradable, but they're also durable, in case your dinner parties tend to get out of hand. The matching ebony wood spoons were polished with the same coconut oil as the bowls.

Cocostation Set of 2 Vietnamese Coconut Bowls and Spoons, $14.99; at Amazon

Solar powered phone charger


Why spend time looking around for an outlet when you can just harness the power of the sun? This solar powered phone charger will make sure your phone never dies as long as you can bask in the sun's rays. As an added bonus, this charger was made using eco-friendly silicone rubber. It's win-win all around.

Dizaul Solar Charger, 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank, $19.95; at Amazon, $19.95; at Amazon

Herb garden kit

Planter Pro

Put some green in your life with this herb planter. The kit comes with everything you need to get a garden growing, including a moisture meter that helps you determine if your herbs are getting the right amount of food to flourish. All the seeds included are certified to be non-GMO and non-hybrids, meaning you can have fresh, organic herbs right at your fingertips.

Planter Pro's Herb Garden Cedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazonedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazon

Reusable Keurig cups

K & J

Keurig cups are convenient, but they also create a ton of plastic waste. These Keurig-compatible plastic cups are an easy way to cut down on the amount of trash you create without cutting down on your caffeine. Additionally, you won't have to keep on buying K Cups, which means you'll be saving money and the environment.

K&J Reusable Filter Cups, $8.95 for a set of 4,; at Amazon

Low-flow shower head


Low-flow water fixtures can cut down your water consumption, which saves you money while also saving one of the Earth's resources. This shower head was designed with a lighter flow in mind, which means you'll be able to cut down on water usage without feeling like you're cutting down on your shower.

Speakman Low Flow Shower Head, $14.58; at Amazon

Bamboo safety razor


Instead of throwing away a disposable razor every time you shave, invest in an eco-friendly, reusable one. This unisex shaver isn't just sustainable, it's also sharp-looking, which means it would make a great gift for the holidays.

Zomchi Safety Razor, $16.99; at Amazon

The Planet