With Earth Day reminding us that we should really make an effort to look after the planet if we expect it to survive, it’s time to take a look at some green accessories you can find for your mobile electronics. We’ve already discussed the challenges of finding eco-friendly smartphones and tablets. It’s not easy to identify the best buys, but when it comes to accessories you can definitely reduce your carbon footprint, save power, and tap into some clean energy sources.
Here are a few green phone and tablet accessories that you might consider trying.
First on the list is this portable solar power station from Gomadic that’s designed to charge up all of your mobile devices. It is essentially a solar panel in a neoprene bag. Zip it open and you can set the panel at the right angle to catch those precious rays thanks to a series of indentations. Four non-slip pads prevent it from sliding.
There are various attachments included, but the USB port is the one you’ll most commonly use; it can be used to charge virtually all smartphones and tablets (among other things). It’s quite big, but it is fairly lightweight and there’s a handle or strap for easy carrying. There’s also a separate front pouch with a zip which can store extra cables or even devices being charged. Apparently the bag is water-resistant, but we didn’t put that to the test.
In direct sunlight the panel charges up devices reasonably quickly. It’s not as fast as a wall charger, but in ideal conditions it will fully charge a smartphone in a few hours. It’s best used alongside the Solar Cache Battery Pack ($40) so you can store up the solar power and then use the battery pack to charge your smartphone or tablet at a decent speed.
This is a smart idea that’s perfect for camping trips and lazy days around the pool. The Rukus Solar is a wireless Bluetooth speaker system manufactured by Eton. It has a solar panel on the top and you can stream music from any smartphone or tablet using Bluetooth. You can also plug your devices into the USB port to charge them up.
The design includes a handy carry handle, two full-range speakers, a set of controls, and a clever E Ink display (like a Kindle book reader). It has been really well thought out, as evidenced by the screen which shows you how much battery power remains, USB on/off, Bluetooth status, solar charging, and AUX on/off. It can be switched between black and white, it’s easy to read in direct sunlight, and it hardly uses any power.
It doesn’t create a huge sound at 7 watts per channel, but it’s enough to get the party started. Once the battery is fully charged it will work all day and into the night (for at least eight hours).
Bracketron has designed this nifty charger as a way to save energy, but it also has a clever portable design which allows you to fold the plug pins away, wrap your cable, and pop it in your pocket. It is a standard USB plug and it doesn’t start charging your device until you push that irresistible big green button. As soon as your device is fully charged it shuts itself off. It’s simple, smart, and stylish.
You’ll find a few interesting gadgets at EcoxGear, but this one is ideal for cyclists. Pedal powered headlights are nothing new, but this device combines a white LED front light, with two red LED rear lights, and a water resistant touchscreen case for your smartphone or GPS unit that mounts on your handlebars. You can turn the lights on and off with a wired remote on your handlebars and you can also plug in your smartphone so it charges up as you cycle.
iBamboo Speaker ($25)
If you’re really serious about going green then you might be interested in a speaker dock for your iPhone that doesn’t use electricity at all. The iBamboo is carved from a single piece of sustainable bamboo and when you put your iPhone in and play some tunes it amplifies the sound naturally. You aren’t going to get big sound from this, but for use in the bathroom it could be ideal.
Bluetooth keyboards don’t require much power. This release from Logitech dispenses with charging or batteries and includes a small solar panel that can draw energy from the sun’s rays. It also offers decent protection for your iPad, works as stand for viewing or typing, and automatically turns the iPad on and off when you open and close it.
EnerPlex is offering a case with a built-in 2100mAh battery and a solar panel on the back capable of charging it up. It adds a bit more bulk than a normal case, but it is surprisingly light. The solar panel is described as “for emergencies” and that’s an important point because it’s simply too small to offer a decent amount of power. Half an hour of direct sunlight will give you a few minutes to make a call. They also offer an iPhone case.
Eco-friendly cases and covers
There are far too many options for eco-friendly cases to mention here, but we’ll point you in the direction of a few good ones to get you started.
- Papernomad: All kinds of sustainable cases that are water and tear resistant, as well as fully customizable. They only cover Apple devices right now.
- Corkcase: Crafted from renewable oak tree bark, these cork cases come in a range of styles for many different models of smartphones and tablets.
- ReFleece: You’ll find felt covers and sleeves for the iPad, iPad Mini, and Kindle range here. They’re made from old discarded fleece using a low energy manufacturing process.
- TreeGloo: A combination of clever custom design options and fine craftsmanship using sustainable materials makes these cases for tablets such as the Nexus 7 or iPad worth checking out.
You’ll find a few more options in our piece on eco-friendly iPad cases and if you have any green accessories you’d like to recommend then please post and share them.