Eco-Conscious Gadgets to Stay Green All Year
Kill-a-Watt Electricity Usage Monitor
Computer companies are improving the ways that electronics are manufactured, but if you really want to know how much power your new desktop is sucking up, you'll need P3 International's Kill-a-Watt Electricity Usage Monitor ($19.19 + free shipping at SupermediaStore after coupon code "EL20P", ends 4/27). With its built-in LCD, this smart meter will tell you how much power you're consuming in real-time, keeping track of multiple units of measure including volts, amps, and watts. It can even calculate electricity expenses by the day, week, month, or year. For a few bucks more, you can upgrade to the Kill-a-Watt Power Strip ($64.99 + $0 s&h at Buy.com, on backorder), which features built-in surge protection and offers six regular outlets and two wide convenience outlets.
Voltaic Solar Messenger Bag (pictured right)
Looking for a quick way to bag some rays? Voltaic's earth-friendly Solar Messenger Bag ($199 + $9 s&h at B&H Photo-Video) features three lightweight solar panels that'll keep your gadgets juiced when you're on the go. Inside the bag you'll find a rechargeable battery pack that draws power from the amount of sunlight it receives. Once charged, you can switch it to output 3.5, 5, or 7.2 volts. With the help of the 11 bundled adapters, this bag can charge most devices, whether it's your smartphone or iPod. It's available with Orange, Green, or Silver panels. There's also a backpack version, the Voltaic Systems Solar Converter ($169 + $11 s&h at B&H Photo-Video), if you prefer carrying weight on your back.
Meraki Outdoor Repeater and Solar Accessory Kit
Blanketing your block with free Wi-Fi will win you kudos with the neighbors, but doing it with a solar-powered repeater guarantees you double the brownie points. That's the idea behind Meraki's Outdoor Repeater ($99 + $9 s&h at Meraki.com) and Solar Accessory Kit. The former can be installed on an outdoor pole or wall and lets you shoot your wireless signal throughout your neighborhood up to 700 feet. The weatherproof repeater can even withstand rain and cold. Combine it with the company's forthcoming Solar Accessory Kit and you can keep the repeater running sans a power strip, giving your block free Wi-Fi and helping Mother Nature simultaneously.
Going green doesn't always involve spending money. The Freecycle Network is a non-profit, grassroots community where people give and receive items for free instead of throwing them away. The groups are local so items are usually traded in person. Browsing through the New York City community we found offers and requests for everything from coat hangers to used VCRs. The site is a bit cumbersome to navigate and because anyone can sign up (membership is free), it gets its fair share of scammers (such as someone asking for a "fast, new MacBook Pro to start their own company.") Nevertheless, the site can be helpful if you have a lot of items you're looking to part with.
Can-O-Worms Household Composting System (pictured right)
You'd have to be a very dedicated tree hugger (or just plain crazy) to put one of these inside your house, but if the idea of keeping a worm zoo outside your home doesn't creep you out, the Can-O-Worms Household Composting System ($95.20 via code "KABOODLE" + $14 s&h at Gaiam.com) might be a great composting solution. Pretty much as advertised, it's a giant barrel filled with hundreds of worms eager to squirm and eat their way through your organic kitchen waste and turn it into fertilizer. The system was designed so it's easy to collect the worm doo (i.e., fertilizer) and it even includes a spigot that lets you water your plants with "worm tea." Just remember to bring your own worms — a 1-Pound Bag of Worms (about 1,200 worms in total) will set you back $29.60 (via code "KABOODLE" at Gaiam.com). Or, just swing by any fishin' store and save some of those creepy-crawlies from a watery grave.
Louis Ramirez is dealnews' Features editor.