With the holiday season coming up, now is the perfect time to buy your friends and family gifts that are fun and useful, but also earth-friendly. Here are eight fun ones — I added a few of these to my holiday wish list (those that are available, that is!!).
This is a great gadget that will help you save money on your energy bill. By displaying consumption by kilowatt hour for each utility, you can determine which utilities are using the most energy. This can serve as a reminder to unplug certain electronics when they are not in use or it can let you know when it is time to replace the refrigerator because it is draining so much extra energy. Prices start at about $15.
2. USB eco-strip
You probably know by now that even if a computer or a phone charger is not in use that it is still consuming energy (if not, check out an earlier blog about it!). The USB eco-strip is a simple way to avoid having to unplug yet will still reduce energy waste. In addition to all the regular features of a power strip with a surge protector, when the computer is shut down, the eco-strip will stop energy from running to any other electronics plugged into the strip. While this has been available in Europe since 2005, it just made its debut in the U.S. this past September. That being said, it will start being shipping in January 2008 and costs about $34 online, so keep your eye out for it soon!
3. Water Powered Desk Clock
By turning this handy little device ninety degrees, you can find out the time, set an alarm, set a timer or find out the temperature. It uses a water-powered battery. Just add regular tap water every two to three months and this clock will keep running. If you will be out of town for awhile, you can extend the life of the battery by letting it dry out until you are ready to use it again. It’s about $22 or so when translated from pounds, and it does have to make the overseas journey, but it’s something to keep in mind–if not this year, then next — hopefully it’ll be closer to you then (assuming you’re in the US).
4. Bamboo Mouse
To give your computer mouse a sleek look, buy a bamboo one. Bamboo is a renewable resource so it is better for the environment than the typical plastic ones. It is actually a fast growing grass so harvesting is not so harmful to the environment. You can buy a bamboo keyboard and a bamboo monitor as well to create a more Zen work environment. The mouse is about $34 dollars. That being said, I have two caveats for this: 1) get one only if the person whom you are giving it to (could be yourself!) needs a mouse, instead of throwing out a perfectly good mouse; and 2) it’s shipped from Japan, so if you’re going to order it, make sure you offset the emissions from the journey!
5. Boblbee solar iPod case
This iPod case will allow you to travel to the ends of the earth while listening to your favorite tunes. It will allow you to fully recharge your iPod after 8 to 10 hours of sunshine. As an added bonus, the case is both shockproof and waterproof. You can just clip it on a belt loop and be on your way. But, like other cool toys soon to be on the market, pricing is still forthcoming.
6. Universal Hybrid Charger
This charger will work with just about all electronic devices, just by changing the adaptor tip. It is equipped with a solar panel so that you can charge your devices without ever plugging in to an outlet. When the charger is at full capacity, it can completely charge a cell phone or provide 10 hours of MP3 music. Created with hikers in mind, you can just clip this charger to a backpack so it is getting sun while you are on the go. There are many different types — the Solio one featured here runs about $79.
7. Iqua Sun Solar Powered Bluetooth headset
Since many people wear their Bluetooth headsets all the time, a solar powered once certainly seems logical. This Bluetooth headset can recharge itself as you are running out to get your lunch, or eating your lunch in the park. This will provide 9 hours of talk time or 200 hundred hours of standby time. The headset is sold through Orange shops, from the UK. It retails for about 50 pounds.
8. Solar Powered Keyhole LED Light
Do you ever get to your front door at night and realize that you forgot to put on an outdoor light? You end up fumbling around with your keys trying to get the key in the keyhole. Those days are now over. The Solar Powered Keyhole LED Light can be installed just above the lock. It has a low light level solar panel to keep the battery charged. By pressing a button, you can turn the light on for 10 seconds before it automatically switches off. It even comes with interchangeable colors (brass, chrome and white) so that you can match it to the hardware on your door. Again, this can be found on UK sites (surprise, surprise!) and retails for about 13 pounds.
I think that’s enough to wet your appetite for now. Needless to say, there are many gadgets coming out, so keep an eye out — and for the ones above that are not yet officially on the market! For the ones that are shipped, especially internationally, remember to offset the transportation footprint at the very least!