The Green Blog
Green Gadgets
      Technology is an essential part of daily life, from cell phones to televisions and laptops to music players, but these electronics have an impact on the environment. But, there are many eco-friendly gadgets on the market today that do not cost an arm and leg, so take a look at these and make the switch!
      According to the U.S. Department of Energy, over three-fourths of the electricity your home uses and you pay for is spent keeping your gadgets in sleep or standby mode. The new SmartStrip power strip ($39.99) allows you to choose which products need to stay in standby mode (a cable box or DVR) and which products get completely turned off (the TV). 
      The USBcell is a revolutionary rechargeable battery that charges through any USB outlet. These batteries eliminate the need to have a battery charger and make it even easier to reuse batteries. 
      A new radio offers 30 minutes of AM/FM radio for only one minute of hand cranking. Or, the radio can be charged by the solar panel on top of the device. Thirty-five hours of sunlight equals about seven hours of playing time. And the best part? The radio only costs $34.50. 
      There’s never a good time for your cell phone to die, especially when you’re on the go and nowhere near an outlet. But don’t worry, the Wind Up phone charger charges your phone with nothing more than elbow grease. A minute or two of cranking charges your phone and gives you 30 minutes of power. In addition to the Wind Up phone charger, a solar charger and a wind-powered charger could mean you never have to plug your phone in again. The Sundance Solar, a pocket-sized solar charger available for $99.95, is compatible with products by Apple, Nokia, Motorola, Blackberry and Samsung, and even works with GPS, game players and digital cameras. 
      Motorola recently introduced a new phone, the “Renew,” which is made entirely out of recycled water bottles. It is the first Carbonfree® certified phone on the market. Motorola also partnered with the Carbonfund.org to offset the amount of energy required to manufacture, distribute and operate each phone. And when you purchase the “Renew,” its package includes a prepaid envelope to return your old cell phone.  
      Many companies are offering solar powered clocks for under $50. When the clock is getting sunlight, it is also charging its internal rechargeable batteries, meaning it works even without sunlight. The clock also works on natural or artificial sunlight, which means it can be placed in any room. Clocks powered by water are also becoming popular. Check out Bedol for clocks that are priced as low as $15. Even though the clock may not be as pretty as some because of its “battery pack,” a little bit of water can power the clock for months at a time. And when it runs out of juice, all you need to do it add water from the tap. Features include the time, an alarm, a countdown timer and the temperature.
      Laptops claim to be completely portable and have a long battery life, but we all know we spend much of our time plugged into an outlet. The SolarRoll, a flexible solar panel, can fix the problem! The panel can be rolled up to fit in your bag, is also waterproof and stops you from having to sit in the crowded coffee shop to do your work. Imagine plugging in the SolarRoll, sitting in the park on a nice day and using your laptop. In case you fall in love with this gadget, it comes in different sizes that can be used to power 2-way radios, digital cameras or even your car battery.
      Finally, another simple way to go green is by keeping your electronics out of the trash. Keep cell phones, computers and other electronics as long as possible. When it’s time for something new, donate or recycle them responsibly. Buyback programs are another great option. These programs buy your old stuff, refurbish it and resell it, keeping it greener. Also, consider buying pre-owned electronics. You help extend the lifetime of a gadget, lowering its carbon footprint, and you save money. Read more about e-cycling on my blog Embracing E-Cycling.