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Ten great eco-friendly gadgets for 2012

The tech world is going green everyday. In the wake of looming energy crisis, the tech makers produce lots of eco-friendly gadgets. Consumers are willing to buy and test green products, which not only cut their electric bills, but also help reduce their carbon footprints. Out in stores there are too many eco-friendly gadgets and accessories for grabs. Here we review ten great eco-friendly products for this year. Most of them were displayed at the International CES 2012 in Las Vegas.

OLPC XO-3 Tablet
One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) has unveiled its solar powered XO3- Tablet at CES 2012. The 8-inch tablet with an HD display is meant for education purposes in developing countries, where electricity is still not accessible to many people. What makes the XO-3 notable is that it works on solar panels and it has a price tag of just $100.

SolarFocus’ SolarKindle is a solar powered case for Amazon Kindle eReader. It is touted as the world’s first solar panel-backed case for an eReader. The case is manufactured using lightweight solar cells, which produce and store power in a built-in battery. The stored power can provide additional battery for your Kindle. The case also has an integrated LED lamp, which will light up 50 hours without using your eReader’s battery. The case is priced at $79.99 and it weighs 7.58 ounces.

Wagan Tech Portable Solar Power Generators
Wagan Tech has surfaced two versions of portable solar power generators; the Solar e Power Cube 1500 and Solar e Power Case 450. Both machines are meant to generate solar power using a set of solar panels. They also come with AGM/gel hybrid battery and Wagan’s power invertors to store and turn the solar energy to AC power. Wagan Tech will bring the solar generators into stores for around $1100 in Q2 this year.

AOC 22-inch HD USB-based monitor
Leading display maker AOC has surfaced a 22-inch USB monitor at CES 2012. It is an eco-friendly monitor, because it consumes less power and is mercury free. In addition, it is manufactured of recycled materials.  The monitor features 1920 x 1080 resolution at 60 Hz and it will work with Windows 7/Vista/XP and recent Mac OS versions. The high-clarity display comes for a price of just $199.

PowerTrekk mobile charger
PowerTrekk is a portable mobile charger that makes use of water to produce power to charge your smartphones or other devices. The charger produces hydrogen through a chemical reaction as it mixes water with a chemical substance, called sodium silicide in a cartridge. The produced hydrogen generates power to charge your handsets. The PowerTrekk mobile charger comes for $200 and the cartridge is priced at $4.

Eton Rukus solar powered Bluetooth speaker system
Eton’s Rukus portable Bluetooth speaker has received a solar powered version. The new speaker system comes with an E ink display and two full-range speaker drivers to provide better clarity sound. The Rukus portable speaker can stream content from any Bluetooth-enabled devices including your smartphones and tablets. Eton is to sell the product for a price of $150 in the second quarter of the year.

Eco ATM gadget recycler
Eco ATM is not to withdraw money from your bank account. It is an eco-friendly automated kiosk that will give you money if you dispose e-waste in it. A San Diego-based company has developed the Eco ATM gadget recycler making use of high-tech machine vision and artificial intelligence. The dumped e-waste is to be recycled for new products.

Panasonic DMP-BDT320 Eco Blu-ray Player
Panasonic’s CES 2012-demoed DMP-BDT320 Eco Blu-ray player comes with a special eco-friendly feature called, the Smart Sensor. The sensor is meant for intuitive power management as it can identify the movements of its user. The Blu-ray player can switch to the start mode once the user comes within 16 feet radio of the player. This system is highly useful in saving the power the Blu-ray player consumes.

SmartLook Home Energy Display
SmartLook Home Energy display is the latest generation of energy consumption meter from Wireless Glue Networks. The new SmartLook display provides real-time information on the energy use in your house. You can see all details regarding power consumption in your house in a day, week or month. It will largely help you bring down the level of consumption.

The House of Marley Bag of Rhythm
The House of Marley has unveiled an attractive Bag of Rhythm Portable Sound System to dock your iPod and iPhone. The travel bag-shaped speaker system is made of FSC-certified renewable birch wood and cotton canvas. The boombox can bring you crisp and clear sound from your iPhone, iPod or other devices.

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5 Surprising Fashion Brands Going Organic

Organic cotton t-shirt from H&M;, photo via Nitrolicious

Most of us, when looking for organic, eco-friendly clothes, know enough to skip the mall; sustainable materials and mass-produced clothes with commercial appeal hardly ever overlap. But we guarantee you’ll know these five companies, who have enough recognition and reputation to do whatever they want and yet are choosing to incorporate organic materials and sustainable practices into their most popular items. Who knows? You may even have one (or all) of these stores at your local mall.

1. Victoria’s Secret

Photo via Victoria’s Secret

Victoria’s Secret has never been an especially green company, with the tons of catalogs sent out every month and the synthetic fiber blends. But over the last few years, in addition to greening the mass mailings, the brand has also introduced beauty products made with organic ingredients from mint to coffee beans—and now offers camisoles, pajama pants, thongs, and panties made from organic cotton. While the organic products are still just a teeny-tiny part of the overall VS empire, they are a step in the right direction.

2. Target

Photo via Target

Chain stores that try to be all things to all people—selling clothes, shoes, groceries, electronics, home goods, outdoor gear, sports equipment, and anything else you can think of—generally don’t have the motivation to offer green products, especially if it means raising the prices. But at Target, organic products show up everywhere, from bedsheets to baby clothes. And with their selection of women’s cropped pants, pajama pants, tank tops, and tees, you can choose eco-friendly impulse buys.

3. H&M;

Photo via Nitrolicious

Last year, H&M; used 1,500 tons of organic cotton for its spring line—this year, the company hopes to increase that amount by 50%. While you might not expect eco-friendly pieces at the retailer’s rock-bottom prices, the change makes sense: H&M; tends toward knockoffs of the season’s biggest trends, and with green more popular than ever, we’re glad to see them jumping on board.

4. Banana Republic

Photo via Banana Republic

The other brands owned by its parent company—Gap, Old Navy, and online shoe store Piperlime—haven’t been driving forces in the green movement, but that doesn’t mean that Banana Republic—the most luxurious of the four—can’t do its part. Boxes and bags include as much as 50% recycled material; stores are putting in place energy saving measures that cut usage by 41% last year; and 100% organic offerings include denim pants and cotton hoodies. A quick scan of the site showed plenty of products made with a small percentage of organic cotton (about 5%) alongside more conventional cotton (in as much as 90%). In the future, we hope the store continues to increase the organic component and set a standard for its sibling companies.

5. Nike

Photo via Nike

Although they got a bad reputation with the use of sweatshops, these days Nike has been doing more for the planet than you might think. In addition to the Reuse-a-Shoe program, which turns old sneakers into playground turf, and Nike Considered, an attempt to trim waste from production and switch to sustainable materials, the company offers 100% organic tees and hoodies, and aims to use at least 5% organic cotton in all its products by next year.

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Set It and Forget It! Plant Garlic Now, Enjoy It Next Summer

image: lowjumpingfrog

This just in from my lunch break: I put in next summer’s garlic crop. You can too! Here’s what you need:

  1. Garlic
  2. Digging tool

In most of North America, now’s the time to plant garlic and other bulbs. They will establish some roots before the ground freezes, then sleep all winter to emerge in spring.

What kind of garlic should I plant?

Obviously, you’ll want to plant organic. Not only is it better for you and for the soil, but non-organic garlic is often treated with an anti-sprouting agent that will keep it from growing in the first place.

I recommend seeking out an heirloom variety, ideally a hardneck “true” garlic. Though it can be tempting to pick up elephant garlic for its huge bulbs, elephant garlic is actually more closely related to the onion, and can have trouble if you plant it too late in the fall. True garlic has smaller cloves, but they’re much more potent. For my garlic patch, I picked a Chesnok Red that I picked up from a local permaculture nursery.

Where should I plant it?

Someplace it’ll have good sun, in well-draining soil. You don’t want your bulbs to rot.

If you live someplace that gets very cold with little snow cover, mulch it with straw after the first hard frost. Otherwise, it should survive the winter just fine.

How much should I plant?

Are you kidding? Garlic is delicious. Plant as much as you can. Bury one clove of garlic every foot or so (advice varies on this, but one foot seems a safe distance even for hungry bulbs). Each clove should divide into a new bulb, and will flower in early summer.

How do I plant it?

Dig a hole and put a clove of garlic in, pointy side up. For small cloves, put them about one inch deep — that is, they should have an inch of dirt over their heads. Bigger bulbs like elephant garlic should go deeper, up to 3 inches.

After you’ve planted it, water it in by drenching the soil completely.

Now, you wait. Begin watering in the spring, and you’ll harvest your garlic crop in the summer.

And that’s garlic, and that’s how I spent my lunch break! Speaking of which: Got a few cloves left over? Whip up a batch of organic bistro garlic fries.

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It’s not hard to plant the garlic and we should start to plant it at our garden. This will be one way to save money and we will have a healthy exercise too by planting the garlic.  Once garlic crops have been harvested, don’t forget to try out the organic bistro garlic fries recipe.

What does it mean to be a Green Designer?

To be a green designer means to think about our environment and to practice sustainable design. This includes using non-toxic recyclable materials and saving on energy and resources where we can. The ultimate aim of practicing sustainable design, is to reduce waste, use as little resources as possible, and the resources that are used, should be unharmful to our environment and re-usable.

Why should I go green?

As a graphic designer, your job is to produce creative ideas to promote your client’s message effectively. By promoting a greener image, you are adding value to your relationship with the client. Consider that consumers have never decided against a product because it is green, but they have and will decide not to buy it if it isn’t. In fact, 82% of consumers are focused on buying green products and services. Customers are becoming more drawn to going paperless, recycled products, bio-degradable products and low emission products.

Companies that are supporting the eco-friendly movement are also seeing increasing numbers in their sales. Many companies are opting for the ‘greener’ option not only because they are contributing to a better, healthier Earth, but because it saves on costs:

  • Less print costs
  • Less shipping costs
  • Less energy costs

How can I practice green design?

By creating a greener image, we are creating awareness of our environment. By creating a greener product, we are taking the step of saving it.

The first step is to become aware as the designer. You’ve heard about the three R’s and why we should be doing it, everyone has; but has it become something you think about daily?

Start with your own surroundings:

  • Are you using energy efficient light bulbs?
  • Are you turning off your pc/appliances when you’re finished?
  • Are you using more paper than needed?
  • Are you printing more than necessary?
  • Can you reduce your own waste materials?
  • Do you have recycling methods in place?

The next step is to think about how your work is impacting the environment. Did you know that for every ton of paper that is recycled, the following is saved: 7,000 gallons of water; 380 gallons of oil; and enough electricity to power an average house for six months.

When you receive a project, the importance of how it may effect our environment should be something considered in every step of the planning.

Factors to consider include:

  • Are the materials you’re using recyclable?
  • Are the materials coming from somewhere nearby?
  • Are the materials non-toxic?
  • Can you use less materials?
  • Can scrap materials be used?
  • What will happen when the user no longer needs this piece?
  • If printing, are the inks vegetable-based or soy-based

There are so many helpful resources out there supporting graphic designers to make the commitment. If you’d like to make a pledge please visit :

Re-nourish is my favorite site of all. It includes fantastic tools to help, including a project calculator, paper finder and green printer finder. It also includes standards on design sustainability and includes the best case studies on companies that have gone green. Another inspiring and helpful resource is the ‘big book of green design’, which shows numerous examples of projects and explains why they are green.

Don’t be frightened to think of green design as being limited… it’s just another opportunity to think outside the box and get creative!

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