This month’s Favorite Green Gadgets list will focus on electronics. Why electronics, you ask? Here’s the thing: Americans replace about 350 MILLION electronic devices every year (and we recycle less than 20% of them!). Our sleek and supremely awesome gadgets conceal a rogue’s gallery of toxic materials including lead, nickel, cadmium, mercury, chromium, and PCBs, to name a few.
So, when we purchase a new gadget, let’s take a moment and be more mindful of how we choose our next device. Fortunately, there’s a huge selection of conservation-friendly technologies widely available. So why not spend a few extra minutes and choose a new HDTV that uses less electricity? Or perhaps computer peripherals that don’t require batteries?
We’re highlighting our favorite environmentally-friendly electronics below. Not only do they make great gifts — when you buy green, you support companies and encourage them to continue developing cleaner, greener, more conservation-minded tech.
Sengu Wireless Bamboo Keyboard
Think about it: how many plastic keyboards have you been through in your life? If you’re a grown-up (or perhaps a blogger) I estimate you’ve sent a dozen old keyboards to the landfill. Wouldn’t you prefer to buy a single keyboard that lasts forever?
The Sengu wireless bamboo keyboard is just that. Its 2.4 GHz wireless connection links both keyboard and mouse to your computer using just one USB port — and it offers 12-channel frequency-hopping, so wireless interference won’t slow you down. The connection has an effective range of over 20 feet, depending on your environment — so even if you have a HUGE monitor, you can sit and work from across the room. Compatible with Windows versions ranging from XP all the way up to Windows 10, and Macs too!
We love bamboo for many reasons: it’s a low-impact, renewable resource. Bamboo is a great carbon sink for offsetting CO2 emissions. And it’s absolutely beautiful.
Nest Learning Thermostat
Let’s face it: your home thermostat has a HUGE effect on your overall carbon footprint. The Nest Learning Thermostat works to optimize your home’s temperature based on your schedule. For the first week after installing, you just use the thermostat as you typically would: adjusting temperature when you leave for work, when you come home, maybe when you go to bed, too. The Nest remembers your schedule and develops a program based on days of the week, times of day, and preferred temperatures. There’s a cute little green leaf icon (pictured above) that indicates a temperature setting that saves both energy and money. And, because this is the 21st Century and everything is “smart” the Nest connects to your Wifi so you can adjust the temperature remotely. This comes in handy if, say, you leave for vacation and forget to adjust the thermostat accordingly. The Nest app lets you track energy consumption based on the thermostat.
Bottom line: the EPA states most homes can save about 25% of their total energy consumption by implementing a thermostat schedule, the way Nest does. So whether you do it for the Earth, or to save money, we won’t judge — get yourself a Nest.
LittleSun Solar Lantern
This is one of those cool gadgets developed with the developing world in mind, with the goal of providing light to the 1.6 billion people without access to electricity. Instead of relying on kerosene lanterns or polluting diesel generators to power electrical lights, LittleSun soaks up sunlight in the daytime and outputs FIVE HOURS of bright, white, LED light — plenty to read by. The LittleSun lights up dark rooms 99% more efficiently than a kerosene-burning lantern. Made of rugged, high-impact plastic, this lamp will last decades.
The LittleSun makes an outstanding night light for a kid’s room, an excellent camping lamp, or for illuminating your outdoors entertainment.
Here’s the best part: for every LittleSun sold, the manufacturers provide one to a needy family. Isn’t it nice to do good for yourself while doing good for others?
KettleCharge: Charge Your Phone While Making Tea
BioLite’s KettleCharge generator is a really cool idea: if you’re using energy to create heat, why not siphon off some of that heat energy into electricity? Primarily intended for backpackers and other outdoor adventurers, the KettleCharge works exactly as you’d expect a kettle to: fill with water and set it on the fire. The thermoplastic handle includes an LED read-out on stored energy and ports for connecting to your phone, tablet, GPS, or other rechargeable gadget. At 10 watts, the KettleCharge gives you the power of a wall outlet (not for long, though — expect to heat 3 kettles to fully charge an iPhone).
If you spend a lot of time outdoors, or maybe you’re… somehow off the grid yet still using electronics and reading this anyway, check out the KettleCharge and BioLite’s entire range of outdoor products.
Philips L Prize LED Bulb
The US Department of Energy’s Bright Tomorrow Lighting Prize gave birth to a generation of super-efficient LED light bulbs. The Philips L Prize LED bulb won (hence the name). If the US replaced all incandescent bulbs with these little miracles, we’d save nearly $4 billion in electricity and 20 million metric tons of CO2. Learn more about the adoption of LED lighting in the US.
When first released, the L bulb cost a whopping $60!
These bulbs are the next-generation refinement of the Philips L Prize LED Bulb, available now for less than $5 each.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this roundup of our favorite green gadgets — stay tuned for more!