Everyone likes to get a little green during the holidays. We're not talking cedar boughs or cold, hard cash, though, but environmentally green. Here are some gift suggestions that support living sustainably, one way or another.
Sustainable smartphone docks
Don’t just lie your smartphone down on the desk where it can get lost or ruined. Set it up in a dock that’s made from sustainable materials. The Charging Nest from DODOcase is constructed of reclaimed walnut from California orchards. Similar product from Grovemade are crafted from maple and walnut from the forests in Oregon. ($99 U.S.)
An automated home is a green home
More and more, devices and appliances in our homes are being connected online, becoming part of the “Internet of things.” The great advantage of the connected home is the ability to program it for maximum energy conservation: Window blinds automatically open during the winter to let the sun’s warming light in and close during the summer to keep the house cool, the furnace or AC set to turn on only when you’re home, lights can be programmed to turn themselves off even if you forget to do it manually. But whether you’re managing door locks, thermostats, or light bulbs with your smartphone, they all have different ways to communicate, and different apps with which to control them. The Wink Hub connects to your wireless router, and then talks to your connected devices using the required protocol, whether it’s Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, ZigBee, or Z-Wave. Then you use the Wink app, a single interface to control everything. ($50; available at Home Depot)
Energy efficient computer monitors
The new line of PowerSensor displays from Philips are equipped with a sensor that detects when someone’s sitting in front of it. Move away from your desk and the monitor automatically goes into a power saving mode that reduces the amount of electricity it draws by up to 80 percent. Available in 24- and 27-inch sizes, the LED monitors are backlit with LCD, have a 5 millisecond response, and can be adjusted by titling, swivelling, and even rotating. They are rated Energy Star, too, which means they meet the strict specifications for being energy efficient. (24-inch: $250; 27-inch: $350)
All Apple computers are manufactured without the use of mercury and arsenic, and are constructed using glass and material that can be easily recycled. They are also certified Energy Star. The Mac Mini is, according to the Electronic Product Enviromental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) registry, the most energy efficient desktop computer. Certainly it’s a marvel of simplicity as it’s only slightly larger than a deck of cards. But connect it to a monitor and keyboard and it’s got plenty of processing power for most computer users. (Starting at $550)
Flat reusable water bottles
The athletes and outdoor types already have reusable water bottles that suit their lifestyles. Finally there’s Memobottle, a water container designed for techies and their backpacks and hipsters and their courier bags. Memobottles, shipping in March, are flat. Constructed of durable, dishwasher and freezer safe, BPA-free copolyester, these aren’t collapsible and will actually stand up on their edges. Designed by an Australian product engineer, these containers come in three sizes corresponding to standard paper sizes in Europe and North America: A5 (750 mL), A4 (1.25 L), and letter (1.25 L). Folks will love that they can simply slip the containers cleanly alongside their laptop. Good thing Memobottles were also designed to be leak proof. (A5: AUD$23; A4, letter: AUD$33; theflank.com)
Electric vehicle for urban commuters
The electric vehicle revolution is upon us, and one of the more stylish offerings in Canada is the BMW i3. It’s a club car that is fully electric, although a gas-powered range extender is an option. Its carbon fibre structure makes the i3 light, which reduces the amount of power needed to move it. The design doesn’t have the centre pillar between the front and back seats making the interior incredibly roomy, and the minimalist dash concept is ideal. Of all the EVs on the market, the i3 is the only one that seems like it comes from the future. (Starting at $44,950)
Weather-watching water-saving sprinklers
Even if you don’t have municipal water restrictions in the summer, it’s a good idea to manage the amount of water you sprinkle on your lawn. The Lono sprinkler controller has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity to give you access to your sprinkler system from your smartphone. And it responds to the local weather, too, so if a rainstorm is rolling in, Lono will postpone your scheduled watering. ($200; lono.io)
Bagless, cordless vacuum
Because they don’t use bags, the Dyson vacuums don’t contribute to landfill. And the unique engineering the company is known for means its products are constantly improving and becoming more efficient. The DC72 cordless vacuum is convenient because there are no power cords to manage while you clean, but it also uses less electricity than most plug-in vacuums while having more suction power than most conventional vacuums that are tethered to a wall plug.