REJOICE FOR MOTHER NATURE: With her wayward sons in the high-tech industry finally wising up to the virtues of eco-friendly gadgets, she may be a happy parent yet. Per Greenpeaces Guide to Greener Electronics, vendors like Toshiba, Sony Ericsson and Nokia are scoring higher than ever in their efforts to eliminate toxic chemicals and nonbiodegradable plastics from TVs, computers and other everyday household gizmos.
Granted, the field still has a ways to go well-known manufacturers like Lenovo and Dell keep delaying their toxic-phaseout programs (tsk-tsk). But with 2.5 million tons of e-waste generated annually by cast-off cell phones, TVs and PCs, only 10 to 18 percent of which is ever recycled, we applaud any and all efforts to clean up the industrys act. And while some gestures appear token (see: the annual geek extravaganza Consumer Electronics Shows all-digital pressroom), others are more genuine (the organizing body of the Consumer Electronics Associations attempt to offset the energy consumption of its 120,000 attendees), and there is some good news: With shoppers willing to pay more for environmentally friendly products in all categories (according to a recent study by MediaPost), theres ample incentive for everyone to be seeing green here shortly.
Heres a look at just a few of the newest sustainable and/or eco-conscious gadgets worth adding to your home or cramming into your carry-on. Each offers a ready way to satisfy your craving for all things new and shiny, and you wont have to worry that theyll tarnish your memories by later rusting over in a local landfill.
Pull the rip cord on Easy Energy YoGens mobile hand charger to provide instant juice for your iPod, digital camera or GPS navigation system. Compatible with most portable electronic devices, all it takes is a few tugs to crank your way back to additional talk time or tunes. $40, www.yogenstore.com
OrigAudios foldable, self-powered speakers available in several colorful designs with flowers, cityscapes and sunsets (custom artwork is also offered) are made from recycled kraft paper. Better still, no batteries or power outlets are needed, and they work with any device that has a headphone jack, such as a laptop or a portable media player. $16, www.origaudio.com
Apples iPad resembles a larger iPod touch, and it lets you enjoy thousands of books, periodicals, games and videos (as well as music albums) in digital format on a 9.7-inch touch screen. Its wireless broadband/3G access and eReader capabilities cut down on the mass waste of physical media such as CDs, magazines (not including American Way, of course) and Blu-ray discs. From $499, www.apple.com
Most computing peripherals are molded in cheap, gaudy plastic. Impeccas elegant Bamboo alternatives (including a keyboard, mouse and headphones) offer an eye-catching organic design thats highly resilient. The only question: After wiping the Doritos stains off the keyboard, do you have to follow up with a round of wood polish? Keyboard and mouse combo, $80, www.impeccausa.com
The first portable video-projector range to deliver bright images while going completely mercury-free, Casios Green Slim devices employ a hybrid laser/LED light source that makes your presentations shine even in well-lit areas. The mercury-free light source also lasts longer than incandescent bulbs and wont leak harmful chemicals into the environment. $799 to $1,399, www.casio.com
Sonys Vaio W Series Eco Edition Mini Notebook is a midrange Windows 7 netbook PC (low price, highly portable) with plastic casing thats made from 23 percent recycled CDs, and it ships in a carrying case built from recycled water bottles. With a bright, 10.1-inch LED screen and six hours of battery life, this netbook does its part to save the planet without sacrificing performance. $480, www.sonystyle.com