Technology typically makes a positive impact on our lives; it saves us time and energy and keeps us well entertained. Unfortunately, the gadgets we love often have a negative impact on our environment. But it doesn't have to be that way. Here are some green gift ideas that you can feel good about giving this holiday season.
Apple has responded to the public's demand for environmental responsibility and designed their latest signature all-in-one iMac (20-inch starts at $1199; 24-inch starts at $1799) with the planet's future in mind.
Besides being ultra powerful (it has the latest Intel Core 2 Duo chips) and looking ultra sleek, the iMac features recyclable and highly durable materials, including scratch-resistant glass and an anodized aluminum shell. The screen's trim one-inch profile is achieved by using flat-panel displays that eliminate two pounds of lead and consume 80 percent less energy than traditional CRT monitors.
Every iMac comes with a built in Web cam, which allows users to have more long distance face time without the need for gas-guzzling travel. The power-efficient and highly recyclable iMac also meets the stringent new Energy Star 4.0 requirements.
What else would you expect from a company that counts Al Gore as one of their board members?
More than a desk lamp, energy-efficient"leaf' ($500), which is built from recyclable parts, is a work of art. When people see it they can't keep their hands off it, so it's a good thing that the 20 LEDs that produce the light sit below an intelligent heat sink that keeps the aluminum outer skin touchable.
The bulbs use eight watts of energy (40 percent less than fluorescent desk bulbs) and run for 100,000 hours, or eight times longer than the lifespan of conventional bulbs.
The base of the lamp is cool, not just to the touch but stylistically. The subtle backlit Herman Miller logo gently powers the lamp on and off. A series of invisible sliders built beneath the cover control the light's brightness and temperature.
I would compare the waif profile of the sculpted aluminum to a swan; the same design looks very different in each of the five available colors. The Leaf Light is the perfect gift for the environmentalist that likes to be in control of his light temperature, enjoys energy conservation and would appreciate a touch of style at his desk.
The Kill-A-Watt ($23), a barebones energy meter, is important for anyone interested in saving energy for future generations or just lowering their electricity bill.
To use it, plug the meter into a wall socket and any appliance into the Kill-A-Watt. The meter's screen then displays the gadget's current, voltage and wattage, keeping track of long-term results. Knowing how much power you are using can help you track your energy habits and replace inefficient appliances.
The Kill-a-Watt is easy to use, is portable and will educate you about your energy drain.
The Nintendo Wii is the greenest gaming console according to Dean Takahashi of the San Jose Mercury News. According to his research, Microsoft's XBox 360 uses 194 watts per hour, Sony's PS3 uses 171 watts per hour and the Nintendo Wii uses a paltry 17 watts per hour.