Tip 1- Wiser water
So you’ve changed to low-flow showerheads and taps, but you’re still struggling getting the rest of the family to turn off the tap when they brush their teeth? We haven’t seen an Australian version, but Aquabarrel’s Faucet Shut Off Kit from the USA looks just the trick. With no batteries or electric parts, this is so simple that every school, household and business should own one: press your hands against the lever and water flows, remove your hands and nada. Genius. US$15.99 plus postage for black or white/$39.97 US for chrome) www.aquabarrel.com/product _faucet_shut_off.
Tip 2- Multi task
Once you dip into the world of green gadgets, it’s easy to work yourself into a veritable buying frenzy (they’re just so fun!), but remember that unless what you’re purchasing is totally biodegradable and carbon-neutral throughout its entire supply chain, it will be making an environmental impact. As always with thinking greener, less is more. If you do buy new, look at multi-purpose items: if your phone has a decent camera, can you hand on your old digital to a friend to save them purchasing a new one?
Tip 3- Quality counts
With technology prices coming down all the time, it’s easy to forget to add that the eco picture goes well beyond energy ratings. When it comes to technology, it may be worth spending more if you think something will last, or if it will save you from buying an additional gadget down the line. If you’re not a techie by nature, the answer here is research, research, research. Invite your highest-tech friend over for a meal and get them to advise how they would make your equipment more multi-purpose; the aim is to futureproof your gear as much as planned obsolescence allows.
Tip 4- The future is bright
If the FLAP bag is any indication, green design could make the future a bright shade of green. The Flexible Light and Power saddle bag is the result of a partnership between US bag designer Timbuk2, PopTech and the Portable Light Project, which aims to bring light to the developing world. Not only does the solar panel on the removable flap provide 10 hours of lighting after a six-hour charge, but by folding the flap, a lantern effect is created. As a bonus, the bag also integrates a USB charger. Although the bags are still being commercialised after successful field tests, expect FLAP the stylish design to take off in both the developed and developing worlds once mass production begins. www.poptech.org/flap or www.timbuk2.com/FLAP
Tip 5- Go Solar
Solar- powered gadgets are a satisfying second best for those unable to invest in panels on their roof. With prices from $20 to $60, everything from solar-powered radios to keyrings that double as a solar-powered torches is now within most gadgetlovers’ price range. There is one caveat regarding gadgets offering a handcranking/ solar combo: always give this a go before you hand over your cash as manufacturers’ claims on how long it takes to wind up your radio or camping light can often be optimistic. www.todae.com.au