April 21 2010|01.38 PM UTC

Jennifer Jolly

11 Ways to Save Money & the Planet with Amazing Green Gadgets

Category: Personal Finance, SavingsTags: , ,

This is a guest post by Jennifer Jolly from the Good Idea Gal, who’s all about finding, testing and sharing just plain good advice. From simple ways to save money, get happy and stay healthy, Jennifer will help you discover one thing you can do right now to make your life better.

Every single mom I know, whether she means to be or not, is wired to the hilt. There’s the car she drives, cell phone, iPod, digital camera, video camera, laptop, desktop computer, printer(s), exercise doodad, kitchen gadget, digital picture frame and separate battery chargers – for home and the car – for everything.

Oh sure, by now, most of us modern moms re-use and recycle. We compost our table scraps. We go to the library, buy used when we can and make sure our water and lights are turned off when we’re not using them. We preach conservation to our kids and brag about it to our parents.

But God forbid we give up our gadgets!

The good news is… we don’t have to.

This April 22nd marks the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day. One Earth-Day-Birthday present this year, can be a renewed commitment to go green… with your gadgets. Here are my top choices for gadgets that help you save money and the planet.

1. nPower Personal Energy Generator (PEG)


What it is: I know, it looks a little… well downright nasty if you must know the truth… (oh yes, I went there) but this handy little wand provides another kind of bliss for busy moms on the go. You put it in your purse or backpack and then just… do something active. Go for a walk; chase after the kids, run errands, whatever. In just an hour or so of moving around, it creates enough kinetic energy to charge your cell phone, iPod and/or other handheld devices.

Why it’s so cool: Seriously, my cell phone runs out of batteries all the time, especially when I’m travelling all day and just can’t be bothered to be tethered to an outlet at a busy airport. Since the PEG works when you’re in motion, you don’t have to worry about being near a power outlet or running out of a charge while on the go ever again. Another fun fact: If everyone who has a cell phone used the PEG to recharge their cell phones for an hour each day, instead of plugging into a wall outlet, it would reduce the amount of electricity needed from the grid by 25.4 million kilowatts. That’s enough energy to power 21,000 households for an entire year!

Cost: It will be available to buy June 3rd and cost $150.

2. Samsung Reclaim or LG Remarq Green Cell Phones:


What it is: Both the Samsung Reclaim and new LG Remarq are smart-green-phones. They are made from bio-plastic and recycled materials. Their packaging is also recycled. Sales of the Reclaim benefit the Nature Conservancy Adopt an Acre Program.

Why it’s so cool: It looks cool, it has amazing features and it comes in the coolest shade of green. Oh yeah, there’s the good for the Earth part too. Since the typical American throws out a cell phone every 18 months, more than 500 million cell phones end up in landfills. That means that every single year 150 million or so cell phones are dumped, creating nearly 70-thousands tons of toxic waste sitting in dumps.

Cost: the Reclaim is available now at Sprint stores for around $50 with a two-year contract. The Remarq will be available May 9th and is free with a two-year contract and mail-in rebate.

**Note: Sprint’s new “Free Guarantee” will also mean fewer phones end up in landfills. They now let you test-drive them for 30-days, and bring them back if you’re not happy, no strings attached. You don’t pay for the calls you’ve made, no restocking fee, nada. Nice perk.

3. PlantMyPhone:


What it is: Since we’re on the cell phone topic… this is a service that recycles cell phones and uses the money they make from it to plant trees. You send them your old cell phone, they even pay for shipping, then they plant at least one, if not dozens of trees in places where it can have the most positive impact on the environment. You also get entered to win cash prizes and the odds of winning are one in 500. (Top prize right now is $1,000 cash.)

Why it’s so cool: Less than 2% of discarded cell phones are actually recycled. Here’s a way for you to fix this problem for free, plus help plant a tree and save the Planet. It’s that simple. PlantMyPhone trees are planted via agro forestry programs that replenish key deforested areas in environmentally and economically sustainable ways. They help plant cocoa, banana, coffee and all kinds of other sustainable trees in countries such as Belize, Zambia and Haiti.

Cost: FREE!

4. Sanyo Eneloop Re-Chargeable Batteries:


What it is: These little rechargeable batteries pack a huge energy punch. They retain 90% of their charge for over a year. They last as long as 20-years. To put it simply, they just rock in this category. Also, here’s a little dose of reality I just love. If you replace one alkaline battery with a rechargeable battery – you can save $500 over the lifetime of that battery. How’s that math go? You can use that one little rechargeable battery so many times it equals $500 worth of replacements. Then there’s the whole carbon footprint thing of using one battery, one set of packaging, manufacturing and all that jazz compared to a couple dozen.

Why it’s so cool: According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Americans buy nearly three billion dry-cell batteries every year to power products like cell phones, toys, lap top computers, tools and portable radios. The vast majority of these purchases are single use batteries. Wasteful!

Cost: $30 for the power pack kit with Sanyo 277265 Eneloop Power Pack with Battery Charger, 8 AA & 2 AAA Batteries Plus 4 C & 4 D Size Adapter

5. Toshiba Portege R600 Computer:


What it is: Toshiba Portege R600 falls in the “notebook” computer category and just last year was ranked greenest by Greenpeace. That alone shows it meets some seriously  stringent requirements. Toshiba is also ahead of the curve when it comes to the elimination of toxic chemicals. And like Sprint, they have a generous and extended take-back policy, which means fewer will end up in landfills!

Why it’s so cool: I have not personally tested the Toshiba Portege R600 simply because its $1300 price tag is a little beyond my petty cash reserves. But, being the investigative reporter I am, I’ve read enough reviews to feel confidant recommending it.  You you need a computer anyway and want to go green,the Portege series goes farther than just about any other desktop or laptop to reduce your carbon footprint.

Cost: $1300 at Amazon.

6. Online Electric, Gas and Water Monitor:


What it is: Earth Aid is like billshrink.com for energy and utility usage. It’s a website service that monitors how much electricity, water, and natural gas you use and how much you spend on these utilities. It grabs the data directly from the utility companies (with your permission), and compares how much energy and water you consume to the same month a year ago. As you consume less energy and water, you get reward points that you can redeem at local and soon, national retailers.

Why it’s cool: as if saving money and the planet isn’t incentive enough, this company actually gives you gift certificates and other perks, just for doing what’s right. Oh, and they give you tons of tips on simple little ways to save and conserve. Very, very cool.

Cost: FREE!

7. A Light Bulb that Saves Energy and the Air!


What it is: This is the little light bulb that could (or can…). It lasts about 10x longer than normal incandescent light bulbs. But the really cool thing is that it has a built in air purifier that removes smoke, pet dander, odors and dust from the air.

Why it’s so cool: Electric lighting currently accounts for nearly 20% of the world’s electricity use, pumping as much greenhouse-gas pollution into the atmosphere every year as half the world’s cars. Much of that results from outdated, inefficient light sources in homes, offices and parking lots.

Cost: $20 for two bulbs.

8. Green Gadget Charging Station:


What it is: this is a charging station that lets you plug in a whole gaggle of gadgets all at once, then shuts down as soon as your phone or iPod or whatever, is charged up. Tons of energy is consumed just pumping juice into an already full battery.

Why it’s so cool: Most of us are not going to get up in the middle of the night to unplug our cell phones once they’re charged. Here’s a way to save our sanity, money and the planet by “simply stopping” when something is full. Now if we could just do that at the dinner table…

Cost: $40

9. Recycle Your Clothing:


What it is: thredUP is the brand-new way for eco-conscious families to exchange clothing online. The service allows families to swap boxes of clothes that no longer fit for stylish ones that will.

Why it’s so cool: One of the lesser talked about contributors to pollution in the U.S. is the clothing and textile industry.  20 billion pounds of clothing and textiles end up in U.S. landfills each year. If we recycled even 10% of the clothing and textiles wasted each year, we could provide 2 outfits per person in the U.S.

Cost: Adults $5-$25. Kids – you just pay for shipping and handling.



What it is: This line of flat-screen TV’s are 65% more energy efficient than many of the competitors. It has high-powered LED backlight technology and doesn’t have any mercury in it. It also has a power-control setting that you can adjust that turns the TV off if it sits idle for too long.

Why it’s so cool: In addition to being made with more environmentally friendly components, you can program this TV to turn itself off. When that happens, you can get your butt up and do something productive. Excellent.

Cost: varies depending on the size, but a good starting point is about $1500

11. Runner Up: GoodGuide iPhone Barcode Application


What it is: since you have to have an iPhone to use this it doesn’t make my top ten list… but… it’s so cool I want you to know about it anyway. This free iPhone app quickly scans any product barcode and instantly gives you a simple rating based on how “good” it is. This includes how it was made when it comes to environmental and sustainability issues, how healthy it is for you and whether the company is socially responsible.

Why it’s so cool: GoodGuide currently has ratings on more than 70,000 food, personal care, household chemicals, and toy products, and more are being added every month. GoodGuide enlists the more than 250,000 people already using its iPhone App to help prioritize which products are rated next, and which issues are most important to consumers.

Cost: Free

As always, let me now about green gadgets you love!

Now go out there and save the Planet!

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