Earth Day weekend is the perfect time to appreciate this fine planet we call home. Take a walk in the park. Work on your garden. (At the very least, think twice before you throw that pop can in the garbage bin.) From a technological standpoint, there are plenty of ways to make the world greener: Take time to unplug seldom-used devices, or round up your old cell phones and bricked gadgets for donation or recycling (Best Buy and Future Shop accept small items like mp3 players, batteries and ink cartridges). If you're in the market for a new addition to your tech arsenal, be sure to research your green options. Check out these gadgets -- they'll make every day feel like Earth Day.
With rechargeable batteries and solar-powered chargers all over the market, there's no shortage of eco-minded power solutions. IDAPT's i1Eco device charger marries that green-friendliness with the company's clever universal charging system. The snappy-looking lime-and-white unit is made of recycled materials, and its auto-off system will stop the flow of energy after your device is charged. Environmental pros aside, you can use the device to charge two gadgets at once. And this universal charger really is universal -- the standard set comes with a microUSB, miniUSB, standard USB and Apple tips, but many more are available online, and IDAPT has pledged to keep making new ones as more devices roll off the line. Pick one up for $29.99 at IDAPTweb.com.
If you're really charged up about energy conservation, you can monitor and manipulate your power usage with the Modlet. This "smart" wall plug studies your appliances and transmits information to your computer about how much power they consume and when, along with recommendations for better conservation. It can also automatically shut off power to your electronics at a given time, but if you need to override that schedule, just tap the plug and it will keep things running as normal. The Modlet's software component lets you check your overall power consumption on a graph, as well as power consumption by room and by individual device. Not bad, for a wall plug. A starter kit with one Modlet plug is $59.95 at Themodlet.com.
Buying sustainably-made clothing and accessories is an idea that appeals to most, but the selection becomes a bit limited when your style is a little more "city-dweller" and a little less "tree-hugger." PKG sidesteps that issue with their (rather hip) limited-edition rubber laptop bag, which is handmade in India using recycled inner tubes and a seatbelt strap. The company only made 200 of these, so if you want one, get rolling. They're $79.99 (for a 13" laptop-sized bag) or $89.99 (for a 16" size) at nice-pkg.com.
Are you a true nature lover? Project Noah is a tech-based endeavour to get "citizen scientists" involved in the cataloguing of flora and fauna. Through the project's iPhone or Android apps, you can upload photos of plants and animals you spot, as well as GPS coordinates and other identifying info. The knowledge bank also works the opposite way -- if you spot a butterfly out on a nature walk, for example, you have an easy tool that will help you find out whether it's a monarch or a viceroy. Those who get really into the project can earn "badges" honouring their contributions to the database. It's downloadable for free at the Apple App Store or Google Play.