Earth Day is this Friday. And it's always good to take a moment to think about ways to screw up this planet a little less. Realistically, we're not going to give up our gadgets (which aren't always environmentally friendly), but we can at least come up with ways to make them less destructive, ya know?:
Belkin Conserve Socket: Belkin's Conserve line has an array of eco-friendly surge protectors and power strips, but our favourite is the Conserve Socket. Some devices will continue to suck power, even if they're not turned on. The Conserve Socket will cut power to any plugged-in device after a set interval of time. $US10.
Naturemill XE Compost Bin: Often thought of as an outdoor activity, composting is a frequently overlooked way to deal with waste. However, Naturemill makes indoor composting units which will take your biodegradable trash (up to 120 pounds a month) and break it down into nutrient-rich soil in as quick as two weeks without making your house smell foul. $US300.
Nissan Leaf Electric Car: The Chevy Volt may have come out first sponged up the early accolades, but the Nissan Leaf is actually the greener car of the two. With an equivalent fuel efficiency rating of 42km/L, the Leaf bests the Volt by 2.6km/L. Plus it has an awesome dashboard which pits your own efficiency stats against fellow Leaf owners. It's currently only up for pre-order, but will be eligible for a $US7500 tax credit, bringing the sticker price down to the $US25,000 range.
Solar Joos Portable Charger: Like its name implies, the tablet-sized, polycarbonate forged Solar Joos will catch a few rays, and turn that into battery life for personal gadgets, like your phone and laptop. For every hour you let the Joos sit in the sun, it will give you two hours of 3G talk time. Plus you can plug it into your computer and keep track of how much energy you've generated. $US100.
Smart Faucet: The Smart Faucet may look simple, but this little on/off mechanism for sinks could save you upwards of 19,000 litres of water a year. The time it takes for you to turn a sink tap on, fill a glass or rinse a dish, then turn the tap off will always result in wasted water. The Smart Faucet only turns on when you hold an object against it, and immediately kicks off when you move that object away. $US29.
Eco Media Player. The Eco Media Player lives up to its name by using a hand-crank for power. Spin the dynamo for a minute and it yields 45 minutes of playback time (you can also charge it via USB for 55 hours of playback time). And it works nice with all the major file formats including MP3, WAV, WMA, AAC and OGG, storing files on SD card or on the 4 gigs of internal memory. ~$US165.
PolarMax TransDry Cotton Shirt: LED and CFL bulbs are cool and more environmentally friendly, but they don't offer the same warmth of light as a traditional incadescent bulb... except one. The 12.5W Philips AmbientLED last 25 times longer (around six years) than standard bulbs and uses 80 per cent less power, while giving off that beautiful warm glow. And it's dimmable! $US40.
Samsung Reclaim Mobile Phone: We all switch mobile phones so often (relatively speaking), that components and batteries are just piled up into unrecyclable waste. The Samsung Reclaim is made entirely from recycled components, attempting to put those parts to good use. Plus, Sprint tosses a couple of bucks from every phone purchased to an environmentally focused charity. Free (US only, with two-year contract).
Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard: In the age of living room PCs and tablet devices, we're beginning to love the wireless keyboard more and more. But Earth hates the endless flow of disposable and lithium-ion batteries that these devices use. That's why Logitech's solar-powered wireless keyboard is a happy compromise. $US60.
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