Every year on April 22, people and countries around the world participate in Earth Day, a day to acknowledge the impact us humans have on our planet.
It's a great chance to think about how you might "go green" in your everyday life — and maybe even save some money in the process. These 10 gadgets are eco-friendly, whether they're made from recycled materials or they help you cut down on your energy usage.
Recycled cases ($5+)
Nearly everyone wants (or needs) a smartphone case. Most cases are made of silicon or plastic, neither of which are very easy on the environment.
But Pela Case is made of recycled and biodegradable materials. The “Flaxstic” material is sturdy, yet will disappear once you discard the case. Pela even says that you can dispose of it in your backyard compost bin if you’re into that kind of thing. Unfortunately, it’s only available for iPhone users.
Buy now: Pela Case, $5, Amazon
For Android and iPhone users who want something a little different, Carved makes cases out of recycled skateboards. The company even has cases ready to go for the just announced, but not yet shipping, Galaxy S8.
Buy now: Carved Cases are made to order, and cost $41.
Mohu ReLeaf antenna ($35)
Ditching your cable box to save some money? Mohu's ReLeaf over-the-air antenna not only has excellent reception, but it's literally made out of crushed cable boxes. The antenna itself consists of 30% recycled cardboard, and even the box itself doubles as a stand for the antenna for those who don’t want to mount it on a wall.
I’ve used this antenna for the past year or so, and even though it’s not amplified, it has outperformed every OTA antenna I’ve tested.
Buy now: Mohu ReLeaf, $35, Mohu
Philips Hue Motion Sensor ($38)
My kids always leave the lights on. I, embarrassingly, leave the lights on from time to time, too. It happens, and it’s a waste.
Installing Philips Hue lights adds the benefit of controlling lights via Wi-Fi with all sorts of artistic colors, but with the motion sensor, you can set the lights to turn on when someone is in the room, and off when no motion is detected.
WeMo Insight ($50)
The WeMo Insight adapter plugs into an outlet and lets you control an accessory or appliance that’s plugged into it using your smartphone.
The Insight Smart Plug also tracks how much energy is being used by whatever’s plugged into it. After setting up the plug, add your specific billing amount for electricity use (call your electric company or look on a statement) and plug something into it. I plugged a refrigerator built in the 1970s into it and was shocked after a week of use to see the fridge was setting me back about $70 a month. The fridge is now gone, replaced by an appliance that costs roughly $2 a month to run.
Buy now: WeMo Insight, $50, Amazon
Anker PowerPort Solar ($50)
Instead of lugging around a giant portable battery pack to charge your phone or tablet, Anker’s solar panel uses the sun to top off your favorite gadgets — without an outlet in sight. The panel can charge two devices at the same time and folds up for easy packing.
Anker lists the most recent iOS and Android devices as compatible with the PowerPort, but it’s safe to say most of your portable devices (think Kindles, phones, tablets, etc.) will charge just fine with it, too.
Buy now: Anker PowerPort Solar, $50, Amazon
Automatic is a small device you plug into your vehicle's On Board Diagnostics (OBD) port. When installed, Automatic tracks your driving habits and instructs you through a series of beeps and app alerts when you step on the gas too fast or use your brakes too hard. The result? You save money on gas, you cut down on vehicle emissions, and you put less wear and tear on your car.
Automatic offers two modules: Lite relies on a smartphone to sync your pricing data, whereas the Pro ditches the need for a smartphone, relying instead on a 3G connection (included in the purchase price).
Sprinkler systems are convenient only because they remove the need for us to remember to water our grass. They are inefficient because they run on a set schedule, regardless of whether or not it just rained — or currently is raining.
Blossom is a smart sprinkler system that uses your location, the weather forecast, and the type of vegetation in each sprinkler zone to set up a personalized water schedule. You can control your sprinklers from a smartphone app on demand until you learn to trust Blossoms’ smarts.
Buy now: Blossom, $150, Amazon
Programmable thermostats are similar to a sprinkler system that works on a set schedule, regardless of weather conditions. Or in the case of a thermostat, regardless if anyone is home. One way to cut back on how much energy your heater and AC units use is to install a smart thermostat, such as Nest.
Using a motion sensor, Nest knows when you leave and then goes into away mode. In away mode, Nest lowers the threshold of when it needs to turn on. Nest will also learn your habits, take the weather forecast into consideration, and attempt to come with up a schedule for keeping you comfortable while at the same time save you money.
Buy now: Nest, $219, Amazon
Ring Stick Up Cam with Solar Panel ($228)
As outdoor security cameras are gaining in popularity, users have had to deal with the realization that running power cords outside isn’t always the best solution. Thankfully, Ring's Stick Up Cam has a solar panel accessory that charges the battery of the camera without impacting performance.
Set up the camera, find a spot where the solar panel will enjoy a few hours of direct sunlight a day, and you have an entirely sun-powered security camera.
Sense is a smart device that connects to your electrical panel, and can determine when your coffee pot turns on, if your AC unit is running, or if you’ve left a light on. Forget to unplug the iron? Sense can alert you on your smartphone, based on the amount of electricity the device is using.
The downside of Sense is that you’ll need an electrician to install the device. The upside is you can monitor your usage and habits directly from your phone. Better yet, monthly fees aren’t a thing at Sense.