Either you love or hate this time of year: Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving when shoppers rush to malls to score early Christmas gift-giving deals. There’s also the online Monday equivalent — Cyber Monday — which is much more friendly to the planet, and we actually found last year that Black Friday was 50 times more carbon intensive compared to Cyber Monday.
Whatever route you take, here’s 7 gift-giving ideas that, yes, require energy to create, but hopefully in a slight way, encourage green technology innovation, lifestyle, and lower carbon emissions:
1). Public Bikes: A couple weeks ago I bought a Public D8 bike from the startup Public, based in South Park in San Francisco. It’s a European-style commuter workhorse bike (looks at home on the streets of Copenhagen and Amsterdam), has 8 speeds, and super-stylish looks. And it’s totally perfect for me to commute to GigaOM HQ, and also to bum around to the park and different neighborhoods in San Francisco. The D8 will set you back $850 baseline, plus any additional features, like the fun back basket or bell. Best part of all: a no-gasoline based commuting option (and no parking tickets). Woot.
2). Belkin’s Conserve Line: You know you want your loved ones to have the energy efficient home office of the future. That’s why you need to check out Belkin’s line of Conserve products, including smart surge protectors, plugs, charging docks and energy monitors. Belkin has been taking a sort-of one-plug approach to home energy monitoring, and bought a startup called Zensi in April in April that built a technology that measures the voltage of the household electricity rather than the frequency. Belkin’s smart energy devices are around $30 to $40.
3). The Kiwi WiFi dongle: The Kiwi WiFi dongle, from PLX Devices, plugs into your car and connects your car data to third party apps built for the iPhone and Android. All cars built after 1996 have to have an onboard diagnostic car port, called the OBD-II, which is accessible in the front dashboard within three feet of the driver. The Kiwi WiFi dongle plugs into the OBD-II and accesses the car’s diagnostic system and engine control unit (ECU), which contains data like engine performance, speed and braking frequency. The dongle then uses Wi-Fi to connect that data with the iPhone. Using the device you can use really gearhead-style apps like DashCommand from Palmer Performance ($50) that enables a user to scan the engine, access incline data, view your braking and acceleration usage in real time, and see how often you skid on a track.
4). Eco-Driving Lesson: We stopped by Pat’s Garage a few months back to film a Green Overdrive episode about How to Give A Prius a Plug. Pat kindly walked us through the process of beefing up the Prius battery and connecting together all of the power electronics. Well, little known fact is that Pat’s Garage also gives Eco Driving Seminars, and gave one in Colorado last month. They don’t advertise widely, but if you contact the garage they’ll likely clue you into when the next one will be held. The basics of eco-driving are not accelerating to quickly — basically the way your grandma drives. It’s boring, but it seems to be taking off in some places (here’s a bunch in the U.K.).
5). Charge Your iPhone 4 With Sunlight: Design company Frostfire has created an iPhone 4 case that has a rechargeable lithium-ion battery at the base with a small solar panel embedded on it that can extend the battery life of your iPhone 4 while on the go. Twenty minutes of direct sunlight shining on the so-called “Mooncharge” case will buy you an extra 50 minutes on standby mode, or 5 minutes of chatting, so, yeah, not a whole lot. The battery can be charged via a USB cord, as well, and fully charged, will provide the user with 315 hours on standby or 5 extra hours of talk time. The case costs $70.
6). Model S Spot: While its too late to get into the first wave of reservations of the Nissan LEAF (more will be opened next year), you can still get in line to buy Tesla’s next-gen electric sedan the Model S. Yes, that’s an expensive gift — it’ll set you back $5,000, so you’ve really gotta be fond of the person to throw that much down. But for that 4-digit place holder, you can get in line for the $50,000 Model S.
7). Eco TV: Dubbed Europe’s greenest TV, Philips introduced the Econova LED TV, which consumes 40 watts in eco-mode, uses a solar remote control, and has partly recycled aluminum stand, in September. Greenpeace gave Philips props for the product, saying it is the first TV free of chemicals like PVCs and BFRs, and placing Philips “well ahead of other TV manufacturers.”
For more research on the smart grid check out GigaOM Pro:
- M2M is Taking Off From Kindle to Smart Grid
- Smart Algorithms: The Future of the Energy Industry
- The Developer’s Guide to Home Energy Management Apps
Images courtesy of mjernisse, Tesla, Frostfire, PLX Devices, Belkin, Public.