Eco-friendly gadget gifts for climate-conscious techies
Governments around the world have recently agreed on emission cuts to slow the impact of climate change. There are also ways for people to share the effort at home.
When it comes to buying and using electronics, a helpful adage from fashion designer Vivienne Westwood has stuck with me: “Buy less, choose wisely, and make it last.”
Taken to the extreme, this could mean not buying new products. According to Apple’s Environmental Report, 81% of the iPhone 13’s lifecycle carbon emissions occur during the device’s production. When you give gifts, you can get refurbished devices or protective accessories that help your loved ones keep their current models longer, such as an Otterbox Defender Series rugged case or a tempered glass screen protector amFilm.
You could avoid buying physical items altogether. Netflix and Spotify gift cards can be applied to subscriptions, while Apple gift cards can be applied to a variety of services in the company’s ecosystem, from iCloud storage to in-store repairs.
If you want to buy something shiny and new, here are some awesome gadgets and accessories that aren’t just greenwashing and are made with sustainability and climate friendliness in mind.
The Wall Street Journal is not compensated by brands or retailers to be listed in this guide.
If you’ve ever wondered if some of your electronics are energy vampires — devices that draw electricity even when turned off — this smart plug can tell you. Eve’s app can also estimate how much your appliances will cost you annually, based on current electricity rates. You can control the outlet and set schedules via the Eve or Home iOS apps as well as Siri. For out-of-home control, you’ll need an iPad, HomePod Mini, or Apple TV 4K to act as a hub. It’s a giveaway for someone steeped in the Apple ecosystem – there’s no Alexa or Google Assistant support. $40; evehome.com
Specialized Turbo Vado SL
The transportation sector is the largest US emitter of greenhouse gases. And cars — you know, the ones we constantly drive to the grocery store and back — produce more than half of those emissions. An e-bike can help reduce personal consumption of fossil fuels. Specialized’s Turbo Vado SL 4.0 EQ is lightweight at 33 pounds and doesn’t skimp on speed, providing support up to 28 miles per hour thanks to its natural-feeling mid-drive motor. And it has commuter-friendly features like built-in lights and a rear rack for cargo. $3,750; specialise.com
Amazon Smart Thermostat
latest gadget is a smart thermostat with a simple three-button display. It uses information from Echo smart speakers and other connected devices, such as smart lights and your phone, to determine if you’re away or sleeping, adjusting the temperature accordingly. When you manually adjust your heating or cooling, a small green tree icon will appear, indicating energy-efficient temperature choices. You can track your energy usage and control temperatures remotely using the Alexa app. Amazon’s version lacks the sleek interface of Google’s Nest Learning Thermostat, but it costs a lot less. This is a great smart thermostat at a fantastic price. Just be sure to use the compatibility checker before purchasing. $60; amazon.com
Grouphug Solar Panel Charger
Most electricity in the United States is generated by fossil fuels, although some providers allow residential customers to purchase their electricity from renewable sources. People who don’t have the option or ability to install rooftop solar panels can still charge some of their small electronics using this window hanging solar frame. A 10 watt panel absorbs the sun’s rays and stores energy in a battery. When the LED light is green, you can start powering your gadgets. It’s not big enough to power a laptop or even fully charge a smartphone (especially on cloudy days), but it will charge an Apple Watch and other small gadgets. $149; grouphugtech.com
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Nutr 2.0 Nut-Milk Maker
Cows produce the most greenhouse gas emissions in the livestock sector, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. For those concerned about sustainability, dairy alternatives can be expensive and full of extra additives. This gadget showed me how easy it is to make your own. It takes about five minutes to pulverize the two tablespoons of nuts and water needed to produce about one and a half cups of “milk.” I like to use the Nutr’s delayed start feature to soak nuts overnight for a creamier texture, and its hot mode to turn lattes. It’s also an effective morning alarm – this thing is loud. $169; thenutr.com
Garmin Tacx Neo 2T Smart Trainer
Unlike other on-the-go trainers, Garminit’s
the model does not need to be connected to a power source. The Neo 2T harnesses the power of your legs to transmit data about your power and speed, and automatically adjusts resistance while using training apps like Zwift. When there is a hill on the screen, it becomes more difficult to pedal, and if the course has a cobblestone or dirt road, the trainer can also simulate this feeling. It’s one of the quietest trainers I’ve tested, at least when I’m not hurtling down a cobblestone driveway. $1,399; garmin.com
Microsoft Ocean Plastic Mouse
This cute wireless device is what I wish the future of gadgets were: made of plastic waste recovered from oceans and other waterways, and packaged in 100% recyclable packaging. This one contains only 20% recycled ocean plastic. I would like to see one done with more. “As we move forward with this new manufacturing process, we hope to see this number increase,” a Microsoft spokeswoman said. The Bluetooth mouse is comfortable but compact, and probably better suited to smaller hands. Although the mouse’s easy-to-connect Swift Pair function only works with Windows PCs, you can use its basic functions with Macs and Chromebooks. $25; microsoft.com
Incipio Organicore phone case
Incipio’s Organicore line has all the elements of a good phone case. It covers the device on all sides and features raised edges around the screen and camera lenses. Plus, the power and volume buttons are easy to press. The bonus is that it’s made from plants and helps keep plastic out of oceans and landfills. The transparent version has better drop protection, rated up to 14 feet, compared to the 8 feet of drop protection of the cheaper Organicore model. Just be careful if you’re using MagSafe accessories, as they don’t always stick as securely as Apple’s official cases. $45; incipio.com
PopSocket Plant-Based PopGrip
PopSocket’s latest phone holder/stand combo follows a similar trend. It is composed of 35% organic matter. (The company is also working on converting the stand, which is plastic, into plants.) These grips help in other ways: By making your phone easier to fold, it’s less likely you’ll drop it and you need excessive repairs or replacements. . The top detaches so you can charge your phone wirelessly. $15; popsockets.com
Vitamix FC-50 Food Cycler
Composting helps keep food scraps out of landfills and produces soil-enriching fertilizer for plants. This electric food waste processor is for those who don’t have a local compost collection service or can’t be bothered with a garden bin. About the size of a small trash can, it takes eggshells, avocado peels, coffee grounds, and other dinner leftovers in a bucket with an odor-eliminating charcoal filter lid. When the bucket is full, you turn it on to start the drying, grinding and cooling process. Keep in mind that citrus peels, beet peels, and other high-sugar fruits can stick to the bucket’s heating element. $400; vitamix.com
Be sure to check out WSJ’s 2021 Best Tech Gifts for cool and crazy gadget gift ideas that might still be available.
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Write to Nicole Nguyen at [email protected]
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