Christmas tech: Greener gifts for under the tree
From smarter phones to sustainable headphones
Regardless of your feelings on Santa, anxiety over climate change is real. So with that in mind, we have pulled together a list of a few more environmentally friendly gifts to take a look at.
All these devices come with a caveat: if you are using technology, here is a carbon footprint involved in its manufacture and use, from the materials that make up its components to the power source you choose.
But if you choose carefully, you can at least try to limit the impact your gift choice has on the world.
Smartphones have become an integral part of our daily lives, but they aren’t always the best for the planet. Take the materials they are made from: how many phones use recycled materials? And how many allow you to repair the device yourself, for relatively low cost? Fairphone satisfies those criteria. Not only is it made from recycled and ethically sourced materials, but it is designed to be modular, so you can swap malfunctioning pieces such as the battery or camera unit, and can be easily repaired with a single screwdriver. The latest version is the fairphone 3, which comes with a 12 megapixel camera, 64GB of internal memory and Android 9 pre-installed. After all, the most sustainable phone is the one you already own.
TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plug
Modern appliances have improved their power consumption considerably, but there is still one thing to consider: standby mode. All the appliance you have left plugged in overnight,with only a red light to display their power mode, are still using electricity. But they don’t need to, even if they are in difficult to reach sockets. Wifi enabled plugs allow you to connect via a smartphone app and your broadband connection, and turn plugs on and off as you need them. - in TP-Link’s case, it’s the Kasa app. The plug itself will draw a small amount of power, but less than the appliance. Say goodbye to standby.
Google Nest Thermostat
A few years ago, smart thermostats were a novelty, another thing you had to manage through your phone. These days every energy company is offering them. It’s not difficult to see why. Timer switches for boilers work well for people who have a predictable schedule. But occasionally you aren’t home, so leaving your heating turned on is a waste of money and resources. That’s where smart thermostats can help, allowing you to control your home heating while you are outside the house. Turn it off to save energy turn it on when you need it. The Nest Thermostat learns your habits over a couple of weeks, and adjusts your heating schedules to suit, but it also uses sensors to detect your presence and your smartphone location to decide if it needs to go into energy saving mode. It seems too practical to be a present for someone else, so call this one a gift to yourself.
House of Marley Smile Jamaica headphones
The House of Marley has a commitment to keeping things a little greener. The company uses sustainable material to build its speakers, such as cork and FSC certified wood or recyclable aluminium. Plus some of the proceeds from the sales of the headphones go to the Marley family’s charitable organisation 1Love. The Smile Jamaica headphones are no exception, using FSC certified wood, and with woven cables that should last a little longer than the standard headphone cables. Decent sound, big on bass, what more could you ask for?