Earth Day Guide to Green Gadgets and Apps
Although Earth Day only comes once a year, you can do your part to help save Mother Earth all year ‘round. Earth Day was actually established over forty years ago after a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California inspired a Senator from Wisconsin to create a day that was a “national teach-in” on the environment. In that same spirit, we’ve put together this collection of gadgets and apps that will help reduce your carbon footprint and help keep our planet green.
Put a Stake in the Heart of Vampire PowerMany devices and especially appliances continue to draw small amounts of power when they are turned off or in sleep mode. Some of the worst offenders are microwave ovens, coffeemakers, printers and other devices that have a clock or standby mode. Estimates go as high as 10% of an average household’s energy bill is from phantom power. The easiest way to prevent this “vampire” or “phantom” power is to simply unplug the device when it’s fully charged or not in use however, you can also buy products like the Stone GreenZero Charger, or one of several smart powerstrips like Belkin’s Conserve Switch or Bits Limited or Tricklestar to eliminate vampire power.
Solar Powered Plastic Bottle LampYou screw a SolarBulb into any ordinary plastic bottle, leave it in the sun for a few hours and then enjoy the glow from a lighted bottle. You can use it on a walkway or on the dining room table. It’s sure to spark a conversation while it’s saving energy.
Use Wind and Human Power to Charge Your PhoneHYmini stores energy collected from a wall plug, a renewable DC input, or from its mini hand crank generator, if you want to burn some calories charging its battery. The energy stored in its internal 1200 mAh battery can be used to recharge most any device through its USB port. You can also mount a HYmini on your wrist or bicycle handlebars.
Solar Powered Kindle CaseA good answer to the question of what you’d like to have if you were ever marooned on a remote island might be an Amazon Kindle loaded with books. Add this solar powered case that also includes a light for reading at night and you’d be all set until you were rescued. Even though the new Paperwhite Kindle has a backlight and its battery lasts a very long time you still might want to consider a Solar Lighted Cover for around $80.
A Little Bit of Water Keeps This Clock Ticking For MonthsOK, so generating electrical power from water might not be the most revolutionary technology, but that’s what makes it fun. This water powered clock is powered solely on water (really any electrolytic fluid). The water clock, which also has an alarm will display the time and date in clear numbers just moments after you fill it with the liquid of your choice. It uses such a miniscule amount of water that you only need to refill the reservoir every few months.
Make New Friends, and Save the Planet With a Ride-Sharing AppAvego for Apple and Android, finds riders and drivers to reduce your commute costs and travel time. On your phone you can see the locations and identity of people nearby and by adding some of your daily or weekly trips, you can receive real-time notifications as other drivers or riders show up and are matched to you. Carticipate is another ride-sharing app that uses GPS location information to connect people who could benefit from carpooling. The app is free for iPhone users and can be downloaded here.
GoodGuide is The Best Guide for Green ThingsThe GoodGuide is a comprehensive directory and guide to everyday products including everything from dishwashing detergent to cereal. At the store you can scan a barcode and get a “green” rating for whatever you’re considering buying. GreenGuide is available on Android and Apple. Green Shine is directory of alternative cleaning products that you can use instead of commercial products.
  Your Tax Dollars At Work; EPA App CollectionDid you know the EPA has a collection of “green apps” on their web site? It’s a fairly comprehensive list including most of the ones we’ve selected here. You can access the list here and even download a spreadsheet of the list if you really want the whole experience.  
These Apps Make Recycling EasierYou can use 1800Recycling to help locate recycling facilities for different kinds of materials. You can see locations on a map, get directions to them or share them with other “recyclers.” Another good recycling app is iRecycle available for iOS and Android. Not only can you find the closest recycling center but you can also find lots of good recycling tips and other information to make your life a little greener.
Use This App Before You Eat SeafoodSeafood Watch for iOS and Android comes from the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It offers regional guides that help you pick the most sustainable seafood for your area. You’ll find alternatives to endangered seafood along with a list of seafood to avoid. You can also share your discoveries of “ocean-friendly” restaurants and stores.

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