I’ll be honest: I hate giving gifts. Mandates to give something for birthdays and other holidays sap the enjoyment from the day and add stress to the days leading up to what could have been such a nice holiday. My apathetic perspective on gifts usually results in a shortage of gifts under the tree for holidays and sporadic participation in birthday gift* giving.
What I do like doing is buying gifts when I find something that’s just right for somebody, whether it is a holiday or not. Random things in the mail or handed off to them makes life more fun and decouples forced consumerism from dates on a calendar.
While I’m not loading up on gifts for the holidays, I know many of you are, and that’s ok! To help ease the pain of the search, I’m sharing a few clean tech gifts that I have found over the last few months that I love and that you might love or might want to gift to someone.
At CleanTechnica, we are all about driving electric (if you have to drive) and to do that, you need to charge up. My favorite EV Charger, aka an EVSE, is the Enel eMotorWerks JuiceBox. It offers the same plug and play charging of just about any other residential Level 2 EVSE on the market and adds on connectivity and features like JuiceNet Green that let owners charge when it’s cleanest. Check out our review of the JuiceBox here for all the juicy details.
Our lives are powered by gadgets, but most of them aren’t as large as our electric cars. To keep all of our personal electronics charged up, I’ve grown fond of ChoeTech’s portable solar chargers. I have the 19 watt folding solar charger, which we have used on camping trips to charge our batteries during the day which we can then use to charge our phones at night. For day to day use, the 14 watt folding solar charger is nice and compact, while still packing an impressive amount of output. It’s worth noting that these work MUCH better outdoors than they do inside a home or office.
Stepping up a bit, you can install solar on your home, office, barn or tiny house to power your lifestyle with rooftop solar. Quoting our new home solar system has been one of the most enjoyable parts of the otherwise tedious rebuilding process, but the financial and environmental benefits of rooftop solar are undeniable. I’m currently really enjoying the high efficiency and low degradation of SunPower’s panels. Well, they look good on my spreadsheets so far. We have not pulled the trigger on a system yet, as we’re still stuck in permitting hell with the city.
On the storage side, the affordability of Tesla’s Powerwall and the impressive feature set packed into sonnen’s ecoLinx both have me excited to be back in our home. Stay tuned for more in-depth comparisons of the various solar systems we quoted out for our home, the installation process, and day to day life with a solar plus storage system over the coming months.
Electrify Your Ride
Riding an e-bike is a great way to stay fit while commuting over long distances at higher speeds. E-bikes are really coming into their own, and two that have stood out over the last year are the Mate X and the Rad Power Bikes RadRover. The Mate X represents one of a new stream of startups that has sprung up to develop personal electric vehicles that enable more people to adopt electric transportation for their specific lifestyle. The folding second generation can be had with its luxe fat tires and starts at just $799.
Rad Power Bikes blew away CleanTechnica’s Nicolas Zart when he took a few of their bikes for a spin and the company has continued to innovate with its latest 2019 product line. The new line introduces a smaller folding ebike and smaller refinements across the rest of the Rad Power Bike lineup.
The upshot of losing just about everything we owned in the Thomas Fire last year is that we get to be more selective about how and what we buy as we’ve started over in 2018. At the core of that strategy is to buy less, buy more durable goods and to buy used, where possible.
One of my favorite purchases in the last year was my Patagonia Better Sweater Hoody. Not only is Patagonia located here in my hometown of Ventura, California, it also happens to be one of the most responsible clothing companies in the world. They take their beliefs to all ends of the company, famously running full page ads on Black Friday urging readers not to buy their products.
I have taken this to heart and bought my hoody on ebay at a fraction of the price of a new jacket, or you can shop for used items in the Worn Wear section of the Patagonia site. As a special bonus, Patagonia products carry a lifetime Ironclad warranty which lets owners take damaged goods back for repair or replacement.
To ward off the winter chill, I’ve taken to layering a sweater in under my fleece and I have a special affinity for the Kora Xenolith insulated sweater. This thing has proven to be my magical sweater that I’ve been wearing almost non-stop for the last few months because it’s just so darned flexible. The bulk of the sweater is made from a blend of 70% merino wool and 30% yak wool that has a nice weight to it without feeling like it’s weighing me down.
For extra warmth, the back of the sweater and arms have been lined with Polartec’s Alpha, which is a down substitute (another win for animals). The combination keeps me comfortable and warm, from California to Colorado and every in between over the last few months.
Being from California, it may sound odd that I don’t like the sun very much, but maybe I can blame that on it being too bright for too much of the year. To solve that, Sunski has a new line of sunglasses that are made with 100% recycled plastic. That’s a win on so many levels and they come in a variety of styles that just might make me look like I’m still trying to stay up on the latest in eyewear trends.
I went with their polarized lenses because looking at the world through
rose colored polarized lenses just makes everything look better. The frames are also very light which translates to comfortable long days at the beach or flying down the road on your favorite e-bike.
Our silly bodies require constant nourishment in the form of food and drink. Eating meat is also one of the largest contributors we humans make to catastrophic climate change. Thankfully, there are some great options out there that are not only healthier and taste like meat, they have a much lower impact on the planet. While you might not want to find them in your holiday stocking, one of my favorites are the Gardein Meatless Meatballs.
The first time I put these into a dish, I freaked out a bit because I thought they really were meat (spoiler: they really are meatLESS). After the initial panic attack, I gobbled down my dish and have since found numerous creative ways to use them to bring texture and flavor into my vegetarian cooking.
Ride Transit To Work or School
Do yourself a favor this year and gift yourself a transit pass to your local transit authority and get out and use it. Try a week of biking + transit, walking + transit or any other combination that skips the car whenever possible. Utilizing centralized transit is a great way to not only explore your city from another perspective, it is safer too! In many areas, riding on transit is also a great way to save money compared to owning, parking, maintaining and fueling your own car.
What are your favorite clean tech products from 2018? The more we can share with each other, the faster we can move towards cleaner, lower impact lifestyles.
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