By Diane Anderson-Minshall
Originally published on Advocate.com April 19 2012 4:00 AM ET
With new advances in eco products and LGBT folks leading the charge on the tech front, it’s more common than ever to be gay and green. Last year a Harris poll found that 55% of LGBT adults surveyed said they care about the environment and 48% were likely to think green when making purchases (double the rate of hets). So we scoured the interweb for the 20 hottest new green tech products.
Water Jug Meets Mainframe
Greening computers isn’t so easy, and that’s why it’s amazing that the Lenovo ThinkPad L420 and L520 both incorporated up to 30% recycled material from office water jugs and used IT equipment in their LCD cover, palm rest, and case. Both are 40% more energy-efficient than their predecessors and promise lower carbon dioxide emissions, and even the packaging has been reduced 20% (and is now 100% recyclable, meaning no giant Styrofoam blocks in that box).
$669 and up, Lenovo.com
Other Eco Computers
More eco award-winners in the computing category include the HP Pavilion, which boasts a mercury-free screen, and the Sony Vaio W Series notebook, with a plastic chassis made partly of recycled CDs and a carrying case made from old soda bottles. Better yet, Apple’s iPad 2 is eco- and energy-efficient with a 10-hour battery, casing made from recyclable aluminum and glass, and a display that’s made without arsenic, mercury, bromine, and polyvinyl chloride—all toxic chemicals found in other computing products.
$299 and up, HP.com; Sony.com; Apple.com
There is probably no cooler home swag than the Bedol Water Alarm Clock. It uses no batteries or electricity, and you only have to replace the water every six months in order to keep it running smoothly. The new Squirt model even looks like a cute, colorful water drop. $26,
Even if these speakers weren’t solar, they’d be cool. The Etón Rukus wireless speakers, available this summer, will come with an AC adapter and solar panels, making the product one of the few portable speakers that can run as long as the sun is shining. It connects via Bluetooth, sports an e-ink display that is more energy-efficient than others regardless of the source you use, and has a powerful sound being lauded by tech pundits. $150, EtonCorp.com
The Boob Tube Gets a Wonderbra
The Philips Econova ECO Smart LED TV just hits markets this year. Using only 56 watts of power, the 46-inch Econova TV uses 60% less energy compared to LCD TVs, thanks to LED lighting technology. It’s made from 60% recycled aluminum, and the television itself is recyclable. It has a solar-powered remote (no more digging for batteries!) and a zero-power switch (making it the rare product where, when you switch it off, power consumption is reduced to zero watts). Price TBA, Philips.co.uk
I’m a Rambling Ma’am
The Pama Eco Navigator Satellite Navigation system might make TomTom devotees think twice. Not only can this GPS give you the most energy-efficient route to drive, it will also provide diagnostics of the car’s performance (such as carbon emissions and MPG) like a little eco-friendly backseat driver. The end goal is letting you see how your driving habits can improve your fuel use. The downside: The U.K. company that makes it sells out its inventory quickly, leading to bidding wars on eBay.
Anyone running electronic devices these days needs to find a way to reduce what techies call “vampire power” (the energy used while appliances are in standby mode). The iGo Green Power Smart Wall is an energy-saving four-outlet wall unit surge protector that automatically reduces vampire power by up to 85%. $20, iGo.com
Rodrigo Alonso’s N+ew seats look like art installation meets functional furniture. The artist takes electronic waste from computer circuit boards, cables, mice, keyboards, and more and turns it into functional resin stools. They’re all one-of-a kind, made to order, and can even be personalized. Prices vary, RAlonso.com
Vacations Just Got Easier
With the Voltaic Generator Solar Laptop Charger, you can sit by the pool and still charge your laptop, cell phone, Nintendo DS, and everything else. The waterproof charger bag, which looks like a futuristic laptop case, uses high-efficiency cells and includes a battery pack custom-designed to efficiently charge from solar power. Just an hour in the sun will charge most cell phones or provide up to 45 minutes of laptop time. $345, VoltaicSystems.com
Greening the Highway, Part 1
There are more green car options than ever before, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, which rates the environmental friendliness of every vehicle on market at GreenerCars.org. While Toyota, Chevy, Kia, and Hyundai all had lauded hybrids this year (including the new Prius plug-in that comes out this summer), the greenest car in America prize went to the Mitsubishi i-MIEV, a battery-operated 100% electric car that has no gas tank, gets the equivalent of 112 MPG, and produces zero on-road emissions, therefore no exhaust fumes (meaning it has no tailpipe to break off the next time you curb your car coming out of McDonald’s). Even better? It’s awfully cute.
Greening the Highway, Part 2
The Honda Civic GX until this year topped that ACEEE list in part because it’s a darn good eco car. Running on compressed natural gas, the Civic GX creates barely any emissions and can go up to 250 miles on a single tank of fuel.
Ditch the Empty Passenger Seats
There are almost 300,000 empty seats commuting to work each day, which is why it’s easy to adore the Smart Fortwo by Mercedes, a micro two-seater that’s 85% recyclable, gets 38 MPG in the gas version and 87 MPG in the electric version, and even offers an optional Smartshift transmission with automatic (for ease) and manual (for fun) modes. $13,000, SmartUSA.com
Keeping the Luxury
The Lexus GS 450h was the first luxury hybrid on the market, and it’s actually faster than the nonhybrid Lexus GS in a 0 to 60 MPH sprint. It reeks of luxury: leather and bamboo interiors, hot and cold seat controls, a large navigation screen that can be split to display mobile apps such as Pandora, and an infotainment system with voice search functions that let you look up destinations on Bing.com and then send routing information directly to the navigation system. Reviews were mixed for the previous version, but critiques of the 2013 model, out later this year, are almost unanimously in agreement with U.S. News’s summation that the Lexus GS hybrid “offers a blend of luxury, power and efficiency that’s difficult to match.” $59,000, Lexus.com