Whether you want to shrink your carbon footprint, save some money on electricity or use products with more recycled components, there's never been a better time for green gadgets. From solar sources to speakers made out of wood, we've rounded up the 10 greenest examples of mobile technology that are either on the market today or coming soon.
This giant USB-attached button is not only a visual reminder to save electricity, but a quick press puts your notebook into power-saving sleep mode. Hit the button when taking a break, answering a phone call or eating a snack, because your laptop will awaken quickly with the press of any key. The ecobutton software also records how much power and money the gadget has saved you, letting you know the reductions in your carbon footprint as well as your energy bill.
SolarKindle Lighted Cover ($80)
Now you can not only read your Kindle in the sun, but charge it too. Powered by a solar panel incorporated into its polyurethane body, the SolarKindle cover allows users to charge its 1500 mAh reserve battery while they sit under a light source. The cover also features a built-in 800 lux LED reading light for nighttime use and signals when the reserve battery is getting low.
Several companies, such as Powercast, have created rectennas, or rectifying antennas that deliver renewable energy by converting radio waves to DC power. These waves are all around us and apparently can be harnessed as electricity, ensuring a tetherless future. The power can be shepherded to a battery, but its applications could also be used to power or charge small gadgets. The Powercast P2110 converts radio waves to 5V of electricity and is often used for charging batteries, energy storage devices or direct power.
House of Marley Bag of Rhythm ($350)
This green gadget from the Marley family's Jammin Collection (yes, the musical Marley family) is all about style, from its subtle Rastafarian yellow, red and green to its printed khaki canvas body and shoulder strap. The House of Marley Bag of Rhythm not only uses twin 1-inch tweeters and 4.5-inch woofers to blare your tunes from your iPhone or iPod, but also uses Forest Stewardship Council-certified birch wood and recycled packaging.
Neon Green Lil' Piggy Power Bank Keychain ($35)
There are a lot of portable solar chargers out there, but the Neon Green Lil' Piggy Power Bank Keychainis probably one of the smallest and most convenient.
The Neon Green Lil' Piggy Power Bank Keychain is small enough to fit on a keychain, but with an 800 mHa lithium battery, it's also powerful enough to charge an iPhone or Android phone and lets you know it needs to be charged. While it has panels to capture the sun's energy, it also can be charged via computer USB port, car charger or AC adapter.
The iFan was created by Tjeerd Veenhoven, an iPhone owner unhappy at his dwindling power usage each day. So he came up with the iFan, a soft-rubber energy fan that clings to a smartphone and charges the phone every time the wind blows.
Six hours of iFan rotation will charge one iPhone completely. Of course, the iFan best used in a windy place, but Veenhoven also suggests holding it out of a car window for a speedier recharge. The product isn't for sale yet, but keep posted about the gadget at Veenhoven's website.
Thinksound ts02 Headphones ($100)
Thinksound has been changing the world of earbuds with sustainable hardwoods that give excellent audio. Thinksound's mission is to create great headphones with the smallest eco-footprint, so the company uses sustainable wood instead of plastics -- and it turns out the wood creates a more natural resonance.
The most sustainable product is the ts02 headset which is composed of 8mm earbuds with PVC-free cables and wood housing that gives authentic sound reproduction. The earbuds come in Silver Cherry or Black Chocolate finish without wire tags and in recycled packaging.
According to designer Joao Lammoglia, the AIRE concept mask is powered by a person's breathing. Through inhaling and exhaling, the user's breathing moves tiny wind turbines that spin and create energy, likely enough to create renewable energy for a small gadget such as a mobile phone. Lammoglia suggests that the mask can be used when taking a nap, exercising or doing chores around the house.
We're not sure people want to sound like Darth Vader all the time, but it's good to know that a Sunday afternoon nap can both refresh someone and recharge a smartphone. The AIRE concept is not for sale yet, but keep posted at its website.
The British company Anokimobi has been around for a few years developing products for smartphones, including its well-known ecoskin and e-pouch —both of which use Biomaster® silver ions to create an antibacterial surface. The e-pouch is made up of recycled plastic bottles and biodegradable organic cotton, and also doubles as a rather handy wallet that carries both credit cards and change and comes in several colors and designs. So, maybe rethink the belt loop and go a little more fashionably green. For more information, check out Anokimobi's website.
LG Rumor Reflex ($279)
LG is touting its Rumor Reflex as its greenest mobile phone yet. With a five-star rating for its energy-efficient battery charger and a cover made of 31 percent recycled materials, it's at least eco-friendly. The Rumor Reflex, which is available on Sprint and Boost Mobile, also has eliminated PVC, halogen, beryllium and other environmentally sensitive materials, and has been certified carbon-free to offset its carbon footprint. Both carriers also offer recycled packaging with soy inks. Cost is $279.99 or $29.99 with a two-year contract on Sprint or $79.99 at Boost Mobile.