I love looking at gadgets. The sheer range of stuff fascinates me, although I very rarely buy any of it. Only reason I even have a cell phone, for example, is because my inlaws insisted on buying one and paying for the plan. They didn’t want me to have a car breakdown with the kids inside, and no way to call a tow truck.
But when you think about it, most electronics are far from green and are mostly luxuries. They’re awfully nice to have, but not so vital as some feel.
But a few do have at the very least interesting purposes. The Kill-A-Watt, for example. If you’ve ever wondered about how much electricity your gadgets are using, it allows you to find out. It can be great motivation for unplugging battery chargers and other electronics when they aren’t in use. Many continue to use at least a little power so long as they’re plugged in.
While not what most people think of as a gadget, surge suppressors and power strips can have a green function too. Shutting them off allows you to completely power down the electronics connected to them. Once you’ve used the Kill-A-Watt to recognize the things you need to unplug more often, these can simplify matters by allowing you to just turn off one item.
If you use batteries at all, a good battery charger is a great gadget to have. Solar is better yet, although looking at reviews on Amazon a lot of them don’t look as promising as one might hope. A good battery charger is high on my Christmas wish list because while my own usage of batteries is fairly minimal, I do have kids and haven’t completely escaped the electronic toy phenomenon.
Solar ovens are also pretty interesting gadgets. I even found instructions on how to make one from a windshield shade, but you can buy some pretty nice ones if you don’t feel up to making one. Solarcooking.org has instructions for a variety of homemade solar ovens. It’s another gadget I have my eye on.
The greenest gadgets often aren’t as high tech as what most people think of when you say gadget, but to me many are every bit as interesting.
One could push the point and say that even an MP3 player is in a sense green, or at least possibly greener than buying CD after CD. The hard part to figure out with them, of course, is durability and the chronic temptation to upgrade. But they’re becoming compatible with many car and home stereo systems, and so potentially replace not only CDs, but CD players themselves. Don’t overdo it on the accessories, and recharge the batteries, and it’s not too bad.
Few choices are perfect when you think about the green angles, but some are definitely better than others. Tempting though they may be, try not to overdo it when it comes to buying gadgets and other things just because they’re fun.