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Monday, September 8, 2014

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HomeKit: The Technologically Ecosystematic Home from Apple


Apple HomeKit

Apple recently filed a patent application for an all-encompassing home automation system that promises to turn your home into a subconscious extension of yourself. Imagine your coffeemaker brewing a fresh cup in the morning, the clothes washer spinning into life, and your television tuned to your favorite news channel simply by opening an app on your iOS or Android device, and even before you get out of bed! And yes, Apple plans to accommodate Android, other non-Apple devices, third-party app developers and several partnered corporations. (more…)

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

GoSun portable solar stove


gosun solar portable stove

Looking for a compact alternative to that cumbersome old school grill? Hate the thought of starting a major forest fire on your family camping trip because you tried to torch a veggieburger on your vintage hibachi? You may want to switch your off-grid cooking endeavors from fire-based, to solar-based. (more…)

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Gidgi solar charging smartphone case – a green Kickstarter project


gidgi smartphone solar charger

Why not tap into solar energy to keep your ravenous iPhone charged at all times? Smartphones are constantly in use, guzzling energy and demanding more juice. Many companies have tried and few (if any) have succeeded, in creating a one-size-fits-all solar charging case for the ubiquitous smartphone.

gidgi solar charging phone case

A little Minneapolis start-up, Solar Surge, has designed a solution, a versatile smartphone solar charging case – the Gidgi – that can accommodate a wide variety smartphones – keeping your phone charged via free solar energy – indoors or out. The idea of a group of young college grads who are seeking crowdfunding via their recently launched Kickstarter project.

iphone gidgi solar charger

The Gidgi features a case made out of durable, good looking components that are intended to have a long lifespan. The life cycle of the Gidgi is further extended by its ability to charge (more…)

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Kickstarter Project: ProGo propane powered motor scooter


progo 3000 propane powered scooter

Have a short commute? Like to zip around city streets and sidewalks like a motorized 10-year old? Zev Charles Ellenberg and his company, ProGo Recreation, are trying to revitalize the motorized scooter market by going green. The ProGo 3000 propane-powered scooter has an on-going Kickstarter project with the modest goal of raising $18,000 for the production and marketing of their low-emissions scooter. Propane’s high octane and low-carbon and oil-contamination characteristics have resulted in greater engine life and significantly lower carbon emissions than conventional gasoline engines.

progo folded

The small, 16.4 oz., propane canister used to power the ProGo 3000 is readily available and easy to change. You can even pack an extra canister in your backpack to insure you don’t run out of fuel while you’re bopping around campus or running errands. Unlike electric scooters that need to be recharged for up to 4 to 8 hours to provide an hour or so of ride time – a single propane canister is estimated to keep you zipping around for 2 to 3 hours at speeds up to 20mph – without the smell, mess and emissions associated with a similar gasoline powered engine. progo engine and tank

Some features:

  • EPA AND CAPB Approved / California Legal
  • Easy pull start
  • 25cc 4 stroke propane engine
  • Lightweight, durable steel frame
  • 20 mph top speed – 2-3 hours run time per 16.4oz propane canister
  • Folds for convenient carrying and storage
  • No Choke, no priming, and no carburetor gum-up, no need for winterizing

Propane pluses:
Utilizing propane as a vehicle fuel source instead of gasoline reduces U.S. dependence on foreign oil and increases energy security.  Propane’s fuel mixture is completely gaseous and doesn’t suffer from the cold start problems associated with liquid fuel. Propane is nontoxic, nonpoisonous, and insoluble in water. Compared with vehicles fueled by conventional diesel and gasoline, propane vehicles can produce lower amounts of many harmful air pollutants and greenhouse gases, depending on vehicle type, drive cycle, and engine calibration. source: The Alternative Fuels Data Center

The GoPro 3000 will retail for around $449 when it ships in October, 2014. If you pledge $399 you can get one at a reduced price.

Check out the ProGo Kickstarter project which runs through August 24th.

related: more alternative scooters featured on The Alternative Consumer

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Thursday, June 5, 2014

keeping it clean: 3 free recycling apps for iPhone


recycling bin and hands

Before you throw those batteries in your everyday trash (next step the landfill) maybe you should consult your smartphone. Our society creates a lot of junk and recycling all that stuff can be a challenge for many people, particularly if they live in a building or community that doesn’t have separate bins and a regular recycling program. Additionally, there are always items like batteries, CFL light bulbs and large electronics that your typical municipal recycling program won’t take.

Here are 3 apps available for Apple devices that may help you get your unwanted items and clutter to a more eco-friendly destination than your local landfill.

  • iRecycle by Earth911

irecycle appThe iRecycle app has been featured as the iTunes “App of the Week” more than 5 times – a testament to its popularity and effectiveness. The app makes finding local, convenient recycling opportunities a breeze, whether you’re at home on the road. iRecycle provides access to more than 1,600,000 ways to recycle over 350 materials.

iRecycle can tell you how, where and when to recycle just about anything. The app uses your current location, ZIP code, address or city, to get access to the vital details of collection points, such as website, phone number, directions, hours of operation and other materials collected.

  • 1800Recycling.com

The recently updated 1800Recycling.com app helps you quickly find recycling locations nearest you. The app finds you convenient drop-off locations and 1800recycling appenables you to organize your recyclables quickly and effectively. You can also share and rate your recycling experiences to help others recycle better. The app covers the entire U.S. and parts of Canada.

Features:

  • Easily find recycle centers by searching for whole groups of materials, or find specialized recyclers for specific materials.
  • Find nearby recycling locations using GPS, or search at a specific location.
  • In-app interactive maps and web browser.
  • Sort results by relevance, distance, or name.
  • Call recycling locations directly in-app.

The app also allows you to get social and share your recycling locations with others via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, or text and works with 1800Recycling.com to search and update info on more than 135,000 locations. (more…)

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

a cordless electric lawn mower – Green Father’s Day Gift Idea


GreenWorks cordless electric mower

The wise shopper always looks for maximum value when purchasing a gift – especially if it’s for the man of the house. For Father’s Day we thought you might do dad, yourself, and Mother Earth a favor by getting pops a cordless electric lawn mower. Gas-powered lawn mowers are among the most inefficient, pollution-creating devices in existence — a typical one hour gas-powered lawn mowing session creates the equivalent emissions of a 4-hour car ride. Also consider the negative impact a gas mower’s noise, fumes and fossil fuel spills can have on your television watching, nap time or yoga session (this is where the value comes in).

Time to get dad a new toy. A cordless push electric mower creates zero emissions (you do have to charge the batteries), is easy to use, creates no noise and will get the job done on most small suburban or urban lawns (if you’ve got hills or a 4 acre spread, go a different way).

Here are 3 options for electric lawn mowers that have been rated among the top performers by Consumer Reports:

EGO LM2001 electric mower
If it’s power you want, the EGO LM2000/2001 (photo above) features a 20 inch cutting radius and is powered by the industry’s most powerful 56-Volt lithium-ion rechargeable battery.

EGOLM2001 electric mower foldedFeatures:

  • Up to a 45 minute cut time
  • 30-minute charge time
  • 3-in-1: mulching/bagging/side discharge
  • Folds for compact storage (photo on right)
  • Push-button start
  • Single-lever, 5-position deck height adjustment
  • 1.7 bushel grass collection
  • LED headlights
  • 5 year limited warranty

$499 @ home depot

Green Works 40V electric lawn mower
The GreenWorks G-MAX mower (above and at top) cuts grass with dual blade design and has a 40V 4 AH Li-ion power system and charger. The other nice feature of this model is that it has 2 blades, 2 motors and 2 batteries for longer mow times and cutting efficiency — you can even add additional battery power for more $$ and run this baby for up to 2 hours.

Features:

  • Smart Cut technology optimizes battery efficiency and energy use
  • Twin Force aerodynamic dual blade design delivers superior mulching, bagging and cutting
  • Dual battery design offers up to 70 minutes of run time
  • 2-in-1 feature offers mulching or rear bagging capabilities
  • Large rear wheels
  • Handle folds for compact storage
  • 2 rechargeable batteries included

$369.99 @ amazon.com

black and decker SPCM1936
If dad himself needs a little help getting around the yard you may want to consider getting him a mower that will pull itself around, like the Black & Decker’s SPCM1936 (above), a 19-inch, 36-Volt cordless electric self-propelled lawn mower .

Features:

  • Cuts up to 1/3 acre per charge
  • Variable speed self-propelled system adjusts to your ideal mowing pace
  • 36-Volt removable battery
  • One-touch wheel adjustment
  • Instant start
  • 3-in-1: mulch, bag or rear discharge with the push of a button

$399 @ amazon.com

Note: Remember these are electric lawn mowers, they are not as indestructible and powerful as a traditional gas guzzling, oil spewing mower. Their benefits are zero emissions, no noise and ease of use. If you value the air you breathe, your hearing and you need to cut that lawn – a cordless electric mower may just be your eco-friendly move.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

hot kickstarter find: the biolite basecamp


biolite basecamp kids

I don’t know if you’ve seen the BioLite BaseCamp (I think I saw its creators on Shark Tank). This new age camping device converts heat from a fire into usable electricity via a thermoelectric generator housed within its orange power pack. The power pack powers a fan that blows air back into the burn chamber for improved combustion.

biolite basecamp how it works

Surplus electricity is then sent to a USB port, allowing you to charge your small gadgets and devices. The BaseCamp lets you double your camping pleasure by allowing you to cook over a fire (old school) while creating the electrical power to keep your smartphone alive and connected to civilization (very new school).

biolite basecamp

It generates 5W of usable electricity via a standard 5V USB port so you can charge everyday useful devices like smartphones, GPS, headlamps, your GoPro, or even tablets. The power pack is designed to house a battery – meaning you now have the option to charge while you’re (more…)

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Getrid app – the simplest way to find a home for unwanted stuff


GETrid screen

Companies are always selling you something new, improved or updated. Marketers barrage consumers with a constant stream of advertising and messaging – convincing them that they desperately need a new product. The result – over-consumption – and a growing pile of gizmos, gadgets and whatnot clogging up our lives. Getrid is a new app that lets you find your old, unwanted stuff a new home (similar to Freecycle or Craigslist only easier), making your life just a little more sustainable. The app is super easy to use and will be available to download for free, without any login or registration process.

getrid photo

Getrid is attractive because of its simplicity. With no registration or login it takes no more than 5 seconds to upload and list an item. Users start by taking a photo of the item they want to give away, add a phone number and confirm the location of the object. If you’re looking for an item, a map overview shows what is being given away in your area. When you find something you need, just tap ‘n call – arrange with the owner of the item when and where to schedule the pick up. The picture of the item and the phone number are the listing details. (more…)

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