Gadgets and apps for eco-conscious techies

Eco-friendly gadgets

Being eco-friendly often means having to buy expensive items or change one’s lifestyle entirely to accommodate better practices. However there are small things you can do to become more aware of your impact on the environment – whether it is replacing items you use every day with items that promote an eco-conscious lifestyle (which are not more expensive than normal), or downloading apps that help you monitor what you do and subsequently change little things that will help the environment.

Vexia Econav (vexia.eu/en/content/8-econav)

Daily driving not only causes wear and tear on your car but also produces a lot of CO2 emissions. The Vexia company has come up with a GPS system that allows you to cut down on these emissions and reduce fuel consumption. All you have to do is enter your car’s make and model, fuel type (petrol or diesel), registration and manufacturing year on the system. From there the system will calculate optimal driving conditions for you in terms of gear changes and speed. You will save money while saving the earth!

Seafood Watch (available on iTunes and Google Play Store)

Monterey Bay Aquarium in California has created an app that helps you eat seafood more responsibly. Overfishing is a big concern all over the world and avoiding eating fish that are endangered because can help ensure that we will all be able to enjoy seafood well into the future.

The app has three categories. The Seafood Guides tells you which seafood is the best choice to eat (abundantly available and farmed in environmentally-friendly ways), good alternatives to the best choices (but there are concerns about how they are caught or farmed) and items that are best to avoid because they are caught or farmed in harmful ways.

The second category refers to Sushi which includes the same options as above (“Best Choice”, “Good Alternative” and “Avoid”) but only refers to common seafood found in sushi dishes. The last category is Project Fishmap®. Here you, as a consumer, can add a restaurant that sells “best choice” or “good alternative” seafood and sushi.

Gota Dishwasher

Washing dishes in a dishwasher means a lot of water goes to waste. The Gota Dishwasher cuts water consumption in half with their innovative design. In the pre-wash stage the dishes are simply steamed. The cooled water vapours from the steaming process are then stored by the machine to use in the actual washing of the dishes.

ASUS U6V Bamboo laptop (asus.com/Notebooks_Ultrabooks/U6V_Bamboo/)

The production of laptops often involves harmful materials (like PVC and lead) which means that they end up on landfills at the end of their life cycle, unable to be recycled. A while ago ASUS came up with the idea of using bamboo, an abundantly available and flexible type of grass, to create a laptop. The harvesting of bamboo is much less harmful than cutting down trees because bamboo grows extremely fast (about 60cm in just 24 hours) and can survive in many different types of environments.

Any plastic that is used in the Bamboo laptop is recyclable and clearly labelled for future identification. Components are lined with cardboard and no electroplating, paints and sprays are used. Far from being ugly, the bamboo-clad laptop can be treated in an environmentally-friendly way to produce different colours and it feels like touching material. You also have the option of having laser designs etched onto the outside.

Samsung S7550 Blue Earth (http://ow.ly/ABnz1)

This is smartphone with a difference. It has a solar panel on the back, covering about 80% of the surface, which charges the phone through exposure to sunlight. About 1 hour of sunlight will give you 5 – 10 minutes of talk time. A rechargeable battery is also provided in case the solar panel isn’t enough. The phone itself is made from recycled plastic (called PCM) removed from water bottles.

Other features include an eco walk facility that counts your steps while walking and then tell you how much CO2 you have saved by walking instead of using a car or the bus. Samsung also released another environmentally-friendly phone called the Exhilarate where 80% of the parts used to create the phone are recycled materials.

The Bedol Water Alarm Clock (http://ow.ly/ABnEC)

This alarm clock tells the time by using salt water. The device has electrodes that convert ions in the water into energy that powers the clock. You simply change the water when needed (usually every 6 months or so). This means no electricity or batteries are ever used and no water wastage occurs either.

USBCELL Rechargeable Batteries (http://www.usbcell.com/)

Alkaline batteries are one of the things that pile up in landfills more than anything else because of the short period of time they are used. Unfortunately they contain lots of toxic chemicals that seep into the ground when not recycled (and, yes, they are recyclable). To avoid this issue altogether you can get yourself the USBCELL Rechargeable Batteries.

They look like normal batteries from the outside but open the positive side of the battery and it reveals a USB plug that you can connect to any standard USB charger (including your computer). To fully charge these batteries, you will need approximately five hours of being plugged in.

Eco Charger App (available on Google Play Store)

All of us know it’s impossible to keep an eye on charging devices all the time and a lot of electricity is wasted because of devices that are left plugged in after they’ve reached full capacity. The Eco Charger App solves this problem by allowing an alarm to go off as soon as the battery is at 100%. Other features include a report on daily battery usage and a notification that tells you when your battery is overheating or on a voltage that is too high.