It seems like everyone is making the effort to go green. Traditional products made of recycled materials, like notebooks made in full or in part of recycled paper, have been available for years. They are great options, but these products have taken things a step further. Don't miss these exciting new ways to go green – for the same cost as their traditional counterparts. (For a primer, check out What Does It Mean To Be Green?)
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Kicking off a new green campaign, Frito Lay's Sun Chips is now marketing their 10.5oz bags that are designed "to fully break down in just 14 weeks when placed in a hot, active compost bin or pile," according to their website. Sun Chips also started using solar energy to power their production plants.
In addition, companies are making compostable cutlery, plates and take out containers both for personal and restaurant use. You can even get biodegradable garbage bags that are designed to break down in 12-24 months once they reach a landfill – and all of these products are comparably priced to the disposable items you're used to buying.
It may seem like science fiction, but this calculator really does run on water. The back panel contains two cells you fill up with tap water and you can keep on calculating for up to two months. A range of styles is available at a budget-friendly cost of $15 and up.
Other available water-powered gadgets include digital clocks, generators, sump pumps, looms, and even cars.
With more and more regions outlawing cell phone use while driving, hands-free systems are a must-have accessory. And now instead of a traditional battery-powered unit, innovative options like the Iqua Sun Bluetooth headsets run on the friendly rays of the sun. It weighs just 14 grams and boasts nine hours of talk time, and 200 hours of standby time in the dark. Other options offer dual power, charging by either the sun or traditional AC power.
And that's not the only option for using the sun for your cell. A January article in the New York Times profiled the company G24 Innovations, and their new product – backpacks, messenger bags and tennis bags with solar power panels that allow you to charge your phones or music players via a USB cord. The solar cells use a light-sensitive dye to convert energy inside as well as outside – as long as there's light. (Find out whether outfitting your home for solar power is a good investment in A Solar-Powered Home: Will It Pay Off?)
Shoes that are made of sustainable materials like recycled carpet padding, eco-certified suede and leather, hemp, recycled car tires, recycled wool, 100% post-consumer recycled paper, silk, coconut and certified organic cotton are now available.
Using water-based glues, Simple Shoes' BioD line decomposes in approximately 20 years, and costs range from US$30 to US$90.
Industry giant Levi Strauss & Co. launched their green line of jeans, Levi's Eco, in 2006. The jeans are made of 100% organic cotton with natural blue dyes and feature recycled zippers and buttons. Even the packaging is made from recycled paper and printed with soy-based ink. In addition, Levi's invited customers to trade in their jeans in exchange for 25% off a new pair.
And they aren't the only option for green clothing. Watch for companies that use sustainable materials, offer clothing "recycling" and produce their products in a sweat-shop free environment using renewable energy sources.
Going Green Is Cool
As more and more companies get onboard the environment train, new, innovative ways to reduce your carbon footprint become available. As consumer demand increases, the products are just getting better. Keep your eyes open for new ways to go green, with little to no inconvenience or increased cost. (For more on going green without breaking the bank, check out Go Green, Save Money.)
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