Solar power may be making great strides in mainstream usage, but energy efficiency doesn't necessarily translate to fiscal conservation. The "Ultimate Outdoor Webcam" by DigitalXtractions, for example, runs on the sun's rays but costs $450 plus another $150 or $250 for a solar panel, according to The Raw Feed. But here's the kicker: Not only do you have to pay those exorbitant prices up front, but you also must shell out $60 a year for a "data subscription" that includes Web hosting. We think we'll keep a USB port open for the &… Read more
It's only a matter of time before phones join the alternative-energy trend in earnest, and some companies are already trying to get out front with designs before the onslaught begins. ModeLabs, for one, has released three concept designs for mobile phones that use renewable and kinetic energy, according to Electronista: The wearable "YoYo" (kinetic energy from bouncing around the neck); the "U-Turn" (energy from opening and closing the keyboard, and the "Runaway" (to be worn on the wrist and recharge itself like a self-winding watch). We have only one question: Why wait for … Read more
We're all in favor of solar energy, but it's products like this that gave rise to the phrase "too much of a good thing."
The Japan Organization for the Promotion of Renewable Energy has devised this "solar-powered fan hat," according to Tokyo-based Plastic Bamboo. It has a solar panel perched precariously on top, which powers a fan poking through a hole in the bill of the cap. (Not kidding.)
It's not that we have anything against the idea but, come on, look at this thing. Whoever is willing to wear one of these … Read more
Even if the people in your life are spoiled, you don't need to turn to coal as a holiday gift. Instead, you can stuff stockings with gift cards that send cash in their honor to a worthy cause.
Changing the Present lets you make charitable contributions in the name of a loved one. Unlike other do-good gifting services (see below), you and your giftees can set up personal profiles that specify favorite causes. Plus, Changing the Present's Stupid Gifts Hall of Shame could be a destination in its own right (although I think fake vomit makes a fine … Read more
'Tis the season for giving, all right. Just when we were whining about solar chargers being too big and bulky, Chip Chick comes along and posts an item on a solar mobile phone charger that's not only much smaller than others we've seen but could even pass as a fashion item.
True, chargers made by generic companies in China like this one aren't known for having the best track records. But given its manageable size (about 3 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick) and its price of $18.50--including adapters for various phones and MP3 players--we … Read more
Automobiles have paved the way for hybrid and alternative energies in transportation, but other vehicles are quickly following their tracks. We've seen trains, golf carts and even wheelchairs running on non-fossil power sources in recent months alone. But one there's one category we hadn't anticipated: toys.
Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies first made headlines with its hydrogen-powered "H-racer" remote-controlled miniature car, which Gizmag says is the "best-selling fuel cell product in the world." Now, Horizon has developed what it calls the "H-cell" power source, which it claims allows miniature cars to reach … Read more
No, it's not some kind of futuristic crossbow, though we would certainly understand if you thought it was. This weird-looking contraption is the "Loopwing Wind Turbine," a wind-powered energy source designed for home use and scheduled for official introduction at Japan's Eco-Products 2006 Exhibition. Treehugger says the device's wing design operates with "low vibration" but notes that the specs are vague--"43 percent power performance at optimum wind speeds," whatever that means. Still, we're reasonably sure it has more guts than the recently discovered wind-operated lamp.
As alternative energies finally become more mainstream, wind power often remains an afterthought compared with solar and other sources. The Elica lamp, made by an Italian design firm, is taking one modest step to raise wind energy awareness among the masses.
The lamp can be turned on and off by blowing on its "helix," or propeller. Mobile Whack says an "airblow censor" can help keep the lamp from being switched on accidentally. We have only one issue with this otherwise innovative appliance: According to the Elica site, it must still be plugged into an electrical outlet--which, … Read more
There are many online calculators for assessing how your lifestyle pollutes the planet; environmental nonprofits sponsor most of them, such as the Earth Day Network's Ecological Footprint Quiz. But learning about the downstream effects of your driving, computing, and shopping can give you guilt to last. Once you feel like the sky is falling, what are you supposed to do about it?
Entrepreneurs bent on spreading sustainability have created Web sites to capitalize on either your guilt, survival instinct, or nobility--whatever the personal motivation may be--by letting you examine the ecological impact of your way of life. Then, you … Read more
In the market for a laptop bag made of recycled soda bottles or a solar-powered iPod charger? You could spend hours searching online for boutiques that stock those green goods. Or you could go straight to Five Limes, a social-shopping site linking to stores that hawk ecofriendly products, such as Green Home for nontoxic bedding, BTC Elements for organic blue jeans, and Green Office for recycled-paper Post-Its. Five Limes is "something like an Angie's List for green products," as Sustainablog puts it. Five Limes saves a history of your activities to tailor search results accordingly and to … Read more