April 23, 2013 at 10:10 AM ET
All the buzz about Earth Day is doing its job— inspiring us all to think about small steps we can take toward more eco-friendly habits. While the pressure to be greener can often feel a bit uncomfortable — use less toilet paper?—there are easy ways to make changes and tech tools to help.
A2B Metro Electric Bike, $3,099
My SUV is perfect for transporting a pile of kids, but itis a bit excessive when making a quick trip to the grocery store. This electric bike is a perfect solution: It’s got a scooter-like turn-key and dashboard, and its heavy-duty motor that helps me conquer the hills when the pedaling gets tough. Add a basket and I can shuttle those groceries with zero emissions. It’s about half the price of a scooter, not to mention way cheaper than a Prius. Now when I see Ed Begley Jr. cycling by in my neighborhood, I can ring my bell and wave with pride.
Belkin Conserve Switch Surge Protector, $39.99
Did you know that even when your TV is off, it’s drawing power from the wall? It’s called Vampire Power, and most of the appliances in your home are quietlysucking the life out of your electrical bill. Belkin’s surge protector cuts them off with the flick of a switch. Just use the remote to kill all power to your plugged-in devices— your DVD player, VCR, stereo receiver... it’s like getting behind your TV and unplugging everything, but a lot more convenient. Two “always on” outlets let you keep things like your DVR running, so you can still record that Real Housewives marathon.
Polaroid Z2300W Instant Print Digital Camera, $179
Ink cartridges are expensive and tough to recycle. Most of them end up polluting landfills. (Not very green!) Polaroid solves the problem with future-forward technology and retro flair. The new z2300W Instant Print Digital Camera uses Zink paper (short for “Zero Ink”) which has ink sandwiched between its layers. No more ink cartridges— rejoice! Plus, the instant-print feature evokes memories of old Polaroid Instamatic cameras, but it’s the best of both worlds— this one is 10 megapixels and alsoshoots video.
The average American showers for 8.2 minutes, and depending on your shower head, that could mean anywhere from 20 to 40 gallons of water consumption. Double that each day, and watch your money circle the drain—and let's not even mention the impact all that wasted water has on the planet. Water Pebble can train you to curb your long shower habits: Place it in your drain and shower once to set a benchmark (see if you can hit the “average American” mark for starters). Next time you shower it will flash red when you’ve used the same amount of water, and it will gradually shorten your showers over time to help you best your records. Hopefully, you’ve got time to get clean while you’re staying green.
Woolly Pocket Living Wall Planter, $26.99
There’s nothing greener than growing organic plants indoors— unless you’re like me and kill everything you attempt to grow. Woolly Pocket’s Living Wall Planter wants to help green your black thumb: The company's hanging planter pops off its bracket for easy planting and hanging, has a built-in basin to make watering a snap, and includesside vents topromote root health by letting plants breathe. Plus it’s made from BPA-free recycled plastic, so you can grow edible plants right in your kitchen.
Lutron Maestro Occupancy Sensing Switch, starts at $22
There’s no greater energy misdemeanor than leaving the lights on when you exit a room. And while motion sensors are a good idea, you often have to flap your arms or dance around to get them to notice you’re there. Lutron has perfected this concept for the home with their occupancy-sensing switches, which are sensitive enough to detect you flipping pages of a book, and install in seconds. Let there be light... but only when you need it.
Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard Model #K750, $59.99
Wireless keyboards have liberated me from a wire-cluttered desk. I love mine, but I’m forever replacing batteries. This one from Logitech runs on solar power, and it’s made of PVC-free plastic, so it’s two shades of green, environmentally-speaking.
EarthCell Batteries, start at $9.95
Batteries contain traces of mercury, so throwing them in the trash is a big no-no, unless polluting the planet is your thing. Properly recycling them is a pain, however, so few people do it— 3 billion batteries end up in U.S. landfills every year. Earth Cell is a company that cares about the entire lifecycle of your battery and wants to help you do the right thing. When your batteries have lost their charge, put them back in the supplied mailer and send them back to the manufacturer. They’ll recycle them properly for you, and send new ones right to your door.
Carley Knobloch is a TODAY contributor and digital lifestyle expert. She's the host and founder of Digitwirl, a Webby-nominated Web show designed to help busy women discover technology that "just works.” Digitwirl brings together Carley’s obsession with all things tech, her passion for problem-solving and her knack for curating the best resources for her audience. She also decodes smart home technology on HGTV.com, and has appeared on The Ricki Lake Show and EXTRA. She resides in Los Angeles with her husband, two kids, a springer spaniel, and a myriad of tablets.