This is the second piece in the Green Holiday shopping series. What gadgets exist that are unique,useful, fun and environmentally friendly? Let’s find out.
A few of the items found here, are not only environmentally friendly but they are also altruistic. For instance IKEA offers a low cost solar lamp. For every lamp you buy, Ikea will donate one to children whose homes lack electricity.
Let’s start with the very low tech stocking stuffer for the survivalist. A Genuine Issue Magnesium Survival Fire Starter from Amazon is described as “Government Issue Aviation Magnesium Fire Starter. Made of solid magnesium with striker. Creates hottest natural fire on the planet. Even lights wet materials. Will start 1000’s of fires and only measures 1/4" x 1/4" x 3". Includes key chain.” This will no doubt require coordination and other technical skills that I lack, but others have in spades. Can be bought for $9.00.
Most importantly, don’t forget the batteries! Every Christmas morning there is at least one toy or gadget that needs batteries and no batteries are in sight. Now the ultimate rechargeable batteries are here. Just plug them into the nearest USB port when these batteries need charging. You can solve all your AA battery needs with the USB Cell batteries from Think Geek for $19.95.
Water clocks don’t use electricity, don’t need the sun, wind, multiple batteries or muscle power. All they need is a little H2O. Here are three water clocks to cover everyone in your family.
For the junior chemist in your family there is the Water Clock by Go Labs. This clock will run on about anything – “water, ketchup, toothpaste, lemons and even cola”. Ketchup. Not just a vegetable any more. $15.99 at Amazon.
A more formal clock is the Bedol water clock. Water with a squeeze of lemon keeps this attractive clock ticking. It doesn’t run on ketchup but it also doesn’t look like a lab experiment. $16.00 from Bedol or $13.27 at Amazon.
Here’s a clock that will fill a number of needs. Should you want to know the time, the temperature, or need an alarm or timer, the Tango Group H2O Water Powered Multifunction Clock II will provide you all four for $24.95 from Amazon.
There are a wide variety of hand crank flashlights, flashlight/radios, flashlight/radio/alarm/mobile phone chargers. Many of these flashlights would make great stocking stuffers. None are more than $30.00 and most are below $20.00. The top rated ones will be mentioned here along with their prices.
The cheapest and one of the highest rated crank flashlights is the Windup LED Flashlight, Crank Powered Lights. The name lacks imagination but this hand crank LED flashlight boasts that one minute of cranking will give you two hours of light. Not bad for $7.69.
Next, the Garrity Power Lite 3 LED Crank Light is one of the highest rated, low cost crank flashlights out there. This flashlight uses LED bulbs which helps it reach its promoted “one hour of bright light per minute of cranking”. The flashlight uses a rechargeable NiMH battery. $8.63 to $13.99 at Amazon.
Adding features to your hand crank flashlight we have the Illuminator Self Powered 4-in-1 FM Radio / Alarm / 3 White focused LED flashlight / Mobile phone charger Crank Powered. Unlike the previous two flashlights, this one doesn’t tell you how much light/radio time/phone charging you get for a minute of cranking. However it got great reviews at Amazon. Can be bought for $9.49.
Slightly more expensive is the Kaito KA404 Emergency Hand Crank Dynamo 5-LED Flashlight with AM/FM radio. For $14.99 you get flashlight/radio. One minutes worth of cranking will keep it lit for 30 minutes. No mention of how long you have to crank for a half hour of music. Can be found at Amazon.
The final windup is actually a radio/flashlight that can be charged either by using the hand crank or by the solar panel on top. Oh yes, it will also charge your phone. The Etón Microlink Self-Powered AM/FM/NOAA Weather Radio with Flashlight, Solar Power and Cell Phone Charger is more expensive than the others coming in at a whopping $30.00, but it also provides more for the money. Being able to charge the radio/flashlight using either or both, solar or crank is a great advantage. It also provides what is probably more reliable radio time and phone charging. Found on Amazon.
The Sunnan desk lamp is powered strictly by the sun. The base incorporates a solar panel that charges three enclosed rechargeable AA batteries. It takes nine to twelve hours in sunlight to fully charge the batteries, but once charged they will provide three hours of light in the evening. By using LED bulbs, 70 percent less energy is used and lasts four times longer than if an incandescent bulb is used. Best of all, as mentioned above, IKEA will donate one Sunnan lamp for every lamp purchased, to children worldwide who live in homes with no electricity. This lamp can’t be bought on line but can be purchased in the store. The price is $19.99.
Everyone’s seen solar lights for driveways and gardens. For those who like the shade, there are 8” tall Mathmos Windlights that are miniature LED windmills that can light your path on windy evenings. Available at Think Geek for $18.
Here’s another stocking stuffer idea. For those who want to monitor how much electricity that new TV, Home theater, or massive stereo system are using, get the Kill A Watt, an electricity load meter and monitor. Plug your TV into the Kill A Watt and the Kill A Watt into a wall outlet. You can monitor the amount of energy used. Only $20 at Newegg.
Need a little light that magnetically sticks to pipes, refrigerators or other metal objects? Then snap up the LED Magnetic Light Mine. It looks like a mini land mine with 12 magnetic spikes and one LED light. Just attach to the refrigerator to make those late night snacks easier to find. Great for stockings. At Think Geek for $7.99.
Have too many gadgets that you need to charge in your car and not enough car chargers or no car charger for the gadget? Think Geek has the Coffee Cup Power Converter. It looks like a take out coffee cup and fits in your cup holder. It provides you with two AC outlets and a USB port. Happy travel charging! Only $29.99.
Need some help jumpstarting your New Year’s green resolutions? Gaiam has two Global Warming Action Kits available on Amazon. You can choose between the small kit which contains the Solar Living Sourcebook, 20 oz. stainless steel water bottle, four 100W CFL light bulbs, a solar LED flashlight, four rechargeable batteries, fast charger, low-flow showerhead, and solar hat fan. This kit is supposed to save 5,000 pounds of CO2. The small kit only costs $49.00.
The large kit includes Solar Living Sourcebook, 20 oz. stainless steel water bottle, a fast charger, a low-flow showerhead, a classic solar hat fan, and three 60W CFL bulbs. This kit should save 10,000 pounds of CO2. Only $99 from Amazon.
For those looking for a new more eco friendly cell phone there is the Motorola W233 Renew candy bar phone. The phone is made entirely from recycled water bottles and is recyclable. Motorola has partnered with Carbonfund.org. to make the phone completely carbon neutral by investing in reforestation projects and renewable energy sources. Best of all this phone is cheap. It doesn’t come with fancy features but it is a good basic cell phone with music and web browsing capabilities. Depending on where you buy it, you can get it for as low as $29.99 from Amazon with T-Mobile to Go’s prepaid plan, $.01 at Amazon with a two year contract with T-Mobile, or $71.99 for the phone alone at J&R.
Not to be outdone, Samsung has its own green cred phone the Reclaim. This phone is made from corn based plastic and like the Renew it is recyclable. The full qwerty keypad makes it a great texting phone. Unlike the Renew, the Reclaim has a two megapixel camera/video recorder. Music and Bluetooth are also features. this phone can be purchased from Sprint or Amazon for free with a new two year contract. Best Buy charges $49 for this phone with 2 year contract. If you only want to purchase the phone without a contract, go to Anything4wireless where it can be purchased for $250.
BoGo flashlights are solar flashlights with a twist to the buying model. You purchase the Mini-BoGo light or the BoGo Light SN2 a second one will be given to a charity for distribution worldwide to individuals without electricity. You can also choose a charity of your own for the second light. A year ago, I reviewed a free BoGo light provided to me by the company. I keep it in the sunlight during the day and frequently it is the only flashlight I can find. It works great. Found online for $17.99 for a single Mini-BoGo Light or $39 for the BoGo SN2. Buy one Get one for $29.99 for the Mini-BoGo and $59.99 for BoGo SN2.
TinyMinds over at Etsy offers one of a kind solar robots. The prices range from $50 to $90. These are for the true gadget geeks in your life. Once enough solar power has been absorbed, the robots come to life with moving tentacles, wings, eyes, or other appendages. Some have light up eyes like Smiler the solar powered flasher. For Sci-Fi fans there is Cthulhu the solar powered emo robot a custom order robot for $80.
Solar Sound is a small portable solar speaker by Devotec Industries. It connects to laptops, cell phones or mp3 players by Bluetooth. The speaker system is one unit, small and easy to transport. The speaker can be charged by using an AC adapter or by putting it in the sun for 12 to 24 hours. Once charged, it will work for 12 hours. You can charge the speakers while using them as well. Perfect for campers, dorms, and outdoor get togethers. Sells for $79.99.
If you prefer your travel speakers to be made from sustainable materials, you need to check out the Vers 2X. This portable iPod speaker can be purchased in a variety of woods from Bamboo to Cherry to Walnut. $200 from Vers.
Want a matching bamboo or other wood case for your iPod or iPhone? You can get those from Vers as well for $39.99.
Want a new keyboard and mouse but are tired of plastic? Try a USB Bamboo Keyboard and Mouse from Brando. You can purchase them separately or together. Sustainable and beautiful. Mouse $19.00, Keyboard $39, and set $52.
Now that you have your eco keyboard and mouse, you need an energy saving computer to go with them. Dell’s Studio Hybrid PC is just the computer to buy. It is “80 percent smaller than other desktops. Uses about 70% less power than a typical desktop, and meets Energy Star® 5.0 standards with an 87% efficient power supply.” You can purchase a tree to be planted in your name. It also comes with a system recycling kit to get rid of your old system. Starts at $499.99 at Dell.
If you are looking for an elegant gift for the man in your life, there are the Eco Drive Men’s watches from Citizens. For vegans there is the Citizen Men’s Eco-Drive Chronograph Canvas Watch for an affordable $129 from Amazon.
A wonderful gadget for going green is an ebook reader. Ebook readers allow you to take a library’s worth of books with you where ever you go. You can read several books at a time and switch between them on your reader. Best of all no trees were harmed in the printing of these books. Since the books are all on line no CO2 was emitted distributing the books. Several ebook readers have been released over the last 10 years but I will only cover the three latest.
From Amazon comes the best known e-reader, the Kindle. There are two versions of the Kindle. You can use either Kindle to order and download ebooks directly from Amazon. The two versions vary in size and features. Both versions have E Ink® displays and can download books in 60 seconds, use 3G wireless, have text to speech, whisper sync, and native PDF support.
Sony also has an e-reader that comes in different versions. These readers use E Ink® Vizplex™ technology to make reading on the e-readers like reading a paper book. There is the Sony PRS-300 E-Reader Pocket Edition, with it’s 5” screen, is available at Toys R Us and other vendors for $199.99.
The latest contender in the e-reader market is Barnes and Noble with the Nook. The Nook will hold 1,500 books on its internal storage and you can add more with Micro SD cards. You can use 3G or Wi-Fi to download thousands of books from Barnes and Noble in the PDF, EPUB, and PDB formats. You can also listen to MP3s and download pictures. It has a 6” diagonal E Ink® Vizplex™ screen for reading and a 3.5” color touch screen for navigation. This is the first e-reading device that incorporates lending your ebooks to others by syncing your Nooks. You will have to settle for a “Holiday Certificate” because the Nook won’t be out until January. $259 at Barnes and Noble.
If you haven’t already switched to an HD LCD TV, Consumer Reports rated them not only by the usual price, picture quality and ease of use but also by the yearly energy cost. In each size category, the TVs that used the least amount of electricity were either in the top of the rankings or a recommended buy. Samsung LED TV’s used the least amount of energy and were in the top two in both the 40-42” and 46-47” categories. In the 40-42” category, the Samsung UN40B6000 ranked second and uses only $32 per year compared to others that used $62. Both the Samsung UN46B7000 and the Samsung UN46B6000, ranked numbers 2 and 3 respectively, used only $35 worth of electricity per year. The cheapest online prices for two of the TVs are at Amazon. The UN40B6000 is $1398, the UN46B6000 is $1748. The UN46B7000 is $1,728 at Electrozone.
For your electronics you will want to have an energy saving power strip or two to minimize the electricity leakage. Two power strips look to be especially helpful. The Smart Strip found on Amazon for $30.22, has “autoswitching technology” meaning that when you turn off your TV, your DVD player and cable box will switch off as well. Separate plugs are available for your DVR.
Belkin has a power strip on Amazon for $34.01 that comes with a remote control. When you turn off your gadgets, you can turn off your power strip using the remote. No need to bend over and conk yourself with the edge of your desk.
For those looking for green transportation, there are two electric bikes that just might fit the bill. The first is the A2B Lithium Ion 7 Speed Electric Bicycle By Ultra Motor. This electric bicycle can reach 20 mph and will go 20 miles on electric power alone. Just plug it in and it is fully charged in three and a half to four hours. Great for getting around small communities or for urban riding. $2,699.99 from Amazon.
The second is the Zero MX dirt bike. This electric motorcycle just recently won the Electric Motorcycle Challenge organized by the French Federation of Motorcycles. The motorcycle will get 40 miles per charge and will go from 0-30 in two seconds. It can be purchased from Zero Motorcycles for $8,250.
For golfing enthusiasts, Hammacher Schlemmer has a Solar Powered Golf Cart. It only takes 15 hours to charge using the rooftop solar array and overnight using a power cord. It has a range of 49 miles or “10 rounds of golf” before it runs out of power. You can snap this up for a mere $9,000.