Earth Day is a time for everyone to think about how to give back and make more eco-conscious choices. We’ve rounded up 10 gadgets and gear that will help green your travels all year long, not just on one day. Read on for the top eco-friendly gadgets to use on the road or back at home.
No need for an outlet, or batteries, or any high-tech gear at all! iBamboo portable speakers are bamboo cut to the usual portable speaker size with a slot on the top to rest your iPhone. Turn your phone’s speaker on, set it in the slot, and the natural acoustics of the bamboo will amplify the sound, no electricity required. The big downside for audiophiles is that because it only amplifies the iPhone’s mono speaker, the sound will still be mono. iBamboo is compatible with iPhone 4 through 5s and is available in natural and black for $20.
ReFleece uses recycled textiles and plastic bottles to make tough cases for your iPad, iPad Mini, Kindle, or Kobo that protects your technology from scraps, bumps, and spills. There are three collections: Classic, Wild Side, and Woolen. For Classic, the inside uses bright fabric and the outside is a felt gray. The Wild Side collection reverses it, and the bright colors are on the outside and the inside is felt gray. The Woolen collection uses thicker fabrics and gives off a more wintry feel. They also have small, medium, and large travel bags for general stuff like makeup or work supplies. The cases range from $32 to $36 and the travel bags range from $29 to $31.
With billions of alkaline batteries dumped each year, why add to the waste? USBCell offers AA batteries that operate and look just like normal AA, but the positive end opens to reveal a USB plug that will connect to any USB charger, including your computer. Five hours will charge them 90 percent, and they can also be used with NiMH chargers. A two-pack costs only $18.
Sometimes you’re going off the grid but need to take the grid with you. If you’re hiking, camping, or driving far, Goal Zero’s Nomad 13 is a great solar panel to charge your phone, laptop, lights, or whatever else uses 13 watts or less. Other panels will have limited options or be less reliable, but the Nomad 13 does it all. It’s only a little bigger than an iPad folded up, it has an internal battery, and you can buy external Goal Zero batteries to charge. It has enough power to charge a laptop, it has a USB plug, a 12-volt output cable, and a cable for linking up multiple panels. It can charge multiple devices at once, and the case has a section to slip in cables or your laptop. All of this weighs a mere 2 pounds and costs about $160.
While this gadget may look a little odd, it amplifies sound and is made in the U.S. from renewable materials. The Eco-Amp is a passive speaker and increases sound volume and clarity without external power. It was originally designed for iPads and iPhones, but now works on nearly all devices. Each order comes with two amps, one plain and the other with a print using soy-based ink. The amp is made from 100 percent post-consumer fiber paper and is FSC-approved. It can be assembled and disassembled for easy reuse, and has an adhesive that lets it stick to your device, but does not leave a residue. It costs $10.00 for both phones and tablets.
Bamboo grows five times as fast as wood and can be grown in a variety of environments, which is what makes it sustainable and the go-to, eco-friendly material nowadays. The iZen Bamboo Bluetooth Keyboard is a compact keyboard that looks pretty much the same as Apple’s, including the function buttons on top. It has a USB rechargeable battery as well—no AAs needed here! Functionally, it’s just a simple Bluetooth keyboard, so it can connect to anything Bluetooth compatible. The price is $69.95.
If there’s anything modern society does well, it’s wasting water by taking long showers. Water Pebble helps you reduce your shower time in a simple way. Put it near the drain and it will monitor how much water goes down. Using that as a benchmark it will display lights—green, orange, and red—to let you know when you’re using more than your last shower. Every time you shower, Water Pebble will reduce the time by seven seconds, helping you shorten your showers without having to deal with anything but looking at the indicator lights (you can reset it if your showers are getting too short). It costs $10 to $20, depending where you buy it.
These LED bulbs use 80 percent less power than normal light bulbs and you can control not only their intensity, but their hue as well—from your smartphone. The Philips bulbs connect over your Wi-Fi, allowing you to use an app to control hue and dimming for each individual bulb. They still work like regular bulbs if you don’t have your phone around you, and they still use less energy. The app has presets for the bulbs to create different light settings like a sunrise or specific hues for different moods. You can even upload your own picture and use the app to recreate the lighting in it. You can also set timers and alarms for the bulbs if you want your lights to be in sync with an alarm or to suggest that it’s time to go to sleep. It costs $200 for a starter pack of three bulbs and a wireless bridge to connect to your router. Individual bulbs are $60.
Eton put out a rechargeable battery for the iPhone 4 and 4s that is essentially a case with a solar panel attached to the back. Called Mobius, it helps when you’re out for a day of traveling and need a quick and simple way to have a little bit extra juice, and you want to be eco-friendly about it. It’s a solar panel, so it’s slower: an hour in the direct sunlight gives you the energy for a couple short calls. But the energy is free wherever there’s sunlight. You can buy one of these online for $19.99.
Yes, you CAN drink the water. The SteriPEN Ultra eliminates 99.9 percent of bacteria from water in just 48 seconds. The UV lamp can be used to treat 8,000 one-liter containers. Whether you’re going out for a hike or traveling to a foreign country, you can be sure the water you drink along the way will be clean.
To see more can’t-miss travel gadgets, check out:
- 5 New Travel Gadgets That Are Becoming Essential
- New Technology on the Road and at Home
- 5 Gadgets From CES 2014 That Will Change How We Travel
By Cody Brooks for PeterGreenberg.com