It’s tough enough to make my way through the weekly to-do list without adding things like monitor energy consumption or reverse carbon footprint to it. And yet, with Earth Day just a few days away, I do want to feel like I’m helping out Mother Nature in more ways than just hugging the occasional ficus. Luckily there are fabulous gadgets and apps that can help you go a little greener. Here are some of my favorite green tech finds:
Gadgets have a way of losing their lustre before you can say... Holy retina screen, have you seen the new iPad? Luckily there’s a way you can turn them into cash so you can chase the new model. Gazelle will sell or properly recycle your out-of-date Apple products and select smartphones, making it a no-brainer to send them any gadget you’re no longer using. You’ll sleep better knowing they found it a new home or disposed of it properly, and if it is worth anything (fill out a quick questionnaire and you’ll know within seconds), you’ll get a check, and Amazon gift card, or a Paypal payment. Best Buy and Amazon also have trade-in programs for a wider array of items, so you can get cash for everything from video games to books to music instruments, and if your gadgets are truly junk, Best Buy will also ensure it’s properly recycled.
Catalogs, magazines, books... they’re all starting to look like a big pile of tree-killers to me. I’ve embraced reading digitally, and it’s helping the trees as well as my wallet. Google Catalogs (for iPad, Android tablets) is like an endless stack of catalogs all in one place. If you’re looking for something specific, you can search across multiple catalogs to find it, add stuff you love to “favorites” and purchase from right in the app. For books, Amazon’s Kindle Cloud Reader makes any Kindle book you’ve purchased available on Mac, PC or Linux computers— no e-reader required.
Ever heard of standby power? That’s the energy (read: money!) that’s being sucked through the outlets in your home when your stuff isn’t even being used... in other words, if it’s plugged in, it’s taxing the grid as well as your wallet. Products like Belkin’s conserve socket and Smart AV make it easy to cut those energy vampires off by controlling when what’s plugged in receives power. For example, plug your entire home theater system into the Smart AV, and turning off your TV will shut power down to the entire pile of black boxes (while still allowing you to keep your DVR humming if you’re taping a Top Chef marathon). The modlet takes all this one step further, allowing you to monitor your energy expenditure online.
Forgo the mall clothing spree and use services like 99 Dresses and Rent The Runway to stretch your closet and cut back on your contribution to a future landfill. Channel your inner Carrie Bradshaw and rent gorgeous high-end handbags with services like Bag Borrow or Steal, and even trade in your kid’s clothes for cash with ThredUp.
Lastly, using services like Manilla helps you cut back on the paper bills and statements that enter your house. Plus, Manilla will help you pay your bills on time and monitor everything on the go with their iPhone and Android apps.