For many people, the words “technology” and “sustainability” do not go together. But they can! There are many cutting-edge technologies that can inspire more sustainable living and help you be more environmentally friendly.
A few of these tech goodies are awesome sustainable swaps for traditionally unsustainable products in your life, like replacing boring notebook paper with a smart notebook you can reuse over and over again. Then there are other products that come from companies that have sustainability as one of their core values and some that are made with environmentally friendly materials.
What is sustainability?
In a nutshell, durability describes whether something (a product, action, resource, etc.) can hold up over a long period of time. Solar power, for example, is more sustainable than fossil fuel sources because the sun isn’t going anywhere anytime soon; however, fossil fuel sources are rapidly being depleted.
To put the concept of sustainability into a non-environmental example, let’s look at a random person’s sleep schedule. This random person (let’s call him Bob) has to wake up at 7 a.m. to get to work on time, and he usually goes to bed by at least 11 p.m. to get a good night’s sleep.
Let’s say Bob wants to spend more hours awake, so he starts going to bed at 4 a.m., giving him only three hours of rest before he has to get up to go to work. Although he is able to do this for a day or two, he cannot continue with this pattern. It’s not sustainable.
One of my favorite explanations of sustainability says something along the lines of meeting the needs of the current generation without compromising the ability of the future generation to meet those same needs.
How can technology be sustainable?
As tech companies evolve, it’s only natural (pun intended) that some become more environmentally conscious. But how exactly does a company that produces technology do it in a more sustainable way?
The materials a company uses in its products are a huge consideration. This extends from materials used in the actual product being sold to shipping or packaging materials. Companies can use less plastic and polystyrene when shipping products and use more renewable resources in products, such as solar energy, and in their manufacturing plants.
Another important source of tech company sustainability to consider is how each recycles and reuses its products. A company that regularly produces laptops, headphones, or other technology might have a pretty cool recycling program. Whether a company offers a discount in exchange for recycled technology, takes the recycled technology and donates it, or sells it at a reduced rate, it’s a great way to keep electronics out of landfills. Likewise, the electronics designed with repairability in mind are equally excellent.
The technology itself can be considered sustainable if it forces you to trade something in your daily routine that is not so sustainable. Take the first item in our list, for example. The Rocketbook Fusion is a reusable notebook, allowing you to (re)use it instead of paper and save a few trees.
Smart Reusable Notebook: Rocketbook Fusion
Although we’ve come a long way with our paper-wasting tendencies, we still have a ways to go. Rocketbook’s Fusion Notebook is an environmental boon as it comes with so many different pages to work with. There’s a calendar view, weekly planner pages, lined pages, dotted pages, and more, and they’re all reusable!
You must specifically use Pilot Frixion writing utensils, as it is the only ink that adheres properly and wipes off the pages. As soon as you’ve finished writing everything, you scan the page to the Rocketbook app (Android/iOS), wipe the page with water and the included microfiber cloth, and you’re done! It’s like new!
Smart reusable notebook
You’ll love making lists and saving paper with the Rocketbook Fusion Notebook.
Plant trees with every search: the Ecosia app
Many people abandon their phone’s native search engine when they get a new phone; some phones may have a pretty decent default search engine, but many don’t. So if you’re already thinking about updating your search engine, why not choose one that will plant trees as you search? Enter: Ecosia!
As if its tree-planting benefits weren’t reason enough to download it, the Ecosia app is also fantastic because it protects your browsing privacy. Your data is never sold for profit and your searches are always SSL encrypted and never logged. If you want, you can also download the Ecosia extension on your Chrome browser.
Listen sustainably: Reveal Solar Speaker
Reveal’s bamboo speaker is sustainable in more ways than one. While you can use a power outlet to plug it in and power it, you can also go wireless thanks to its built-in monocrystalline solar panels, which simply means that each solar panel is made of a single crystal of silicon. If you live somewhere with enough sunlight, you can leave it on a windowsill and probably never have to plug it in.
The speaker is made with sustainable bamboo which is also beautiful to look at. Most speakers have a bland design or only come in black, but this speaker from Reveal looks neat with its bamboo face.
You can use the speaker to charge your smartphone or tablet via a USB-A port and use Bluetooth to stream music. On full charge, the speaker can last about 15 hours. So even if you have a few rainy days, you still have enough charge to last until the sun returns.
For your phone: Pela phone case
You use your phone every day, so why not cover it with a case that will make you feel good about yourself every time you look at it. A phone case from Pela is great for the environment and looks great on your phone, whether you have an iPhone (5 – 13, SE), Google Pixel (3a – 6) or Samsung Galaxy (S8 – S22) . They also have cases available for the OnePlus 9 and Huawei P50/P50 Pro models.
Pela phone cases are made of proprietary Flaxstic, a combination of flax straw materials and a compostable bioplastic elastomer. The crates are 100% compostable, which means they break down completely and do no harm to the environment when composted. Or, you can send your phone back to Pela, and the company will reuse it in a new generation of phone cases.
Additionally, Pela uses fully recyclable wrapping paper for your case; you can recycle it or compost it. Although super durable, Pela’s phone cases are still incredibly durable. If you’re clumsy, don’t worry. Your phone will be protected from drops and scratches in a Pela case.
Solar charger: Anker PowerCore Solar 20000
A list of the best sustainable technologies wouldn’t be complete without a solar charger. Anker is known for making some of the best portable batteries, and this solar charger is a great choice.
It features a massive 20,000mAh cell and dual charging capacity that can charge your devices efficiently and repeatedly. The USB-C port outputs 18W and the USB-A port outputs 12W. Although it needs solar power to accumulate the battery, it is designed to withstand rain, dust and drops. There’s also a handy built-in flashlight!
Eco-Friendly Buds: Skullcandy Sesh Evo
While there’s nothing specifically sustainable about Skullcandy’s Sesh Evo headphones, the company as a whole is dedicated to being environmentally conscious. Sustainability is important to Skullcandy, from implementing more recyclable packaging to partnering with organizations fighting climate change to upcycling or upcycling a pair of old headphones.
If you have a pair of old headphones or headphones (any brand), you can send them to Skullcandy and get a 30% off coupon for your next Skullcandy order. By the way, that 30% is on your entire order, not just one item. Since launching Skullcandy’s sustainability program in July 2019, the company has diverted over 500,000 units from landfills.
Once Skullcandy receives your headphones or headphones, they evaluate them to determine if they can be recycled or upcycled. Where possible, Skullcandy likes to recycle old electronics and sell them refurbished at a discounted rate, with a portion of those profits going to Protect Our Winters. If the device cannot be refurbished, it is broken down and properly recycled.
Skullcandy Sesh Evo
Skullcandy is an incredibly sustainable company, so consider buying more than these awesome Sesh Evo headphones.
Easily repairable computer: Framework laptop
The Framework laptop can be repaired and customized as many times as you want, and what’s more durable than that? Instead of buying an entirely new laptop every time yours dies, you can simply replace the specific part that malfunctioned with the Framework laptop.
It’s thin and light, with a 13.5-inch screen, and it gives you the flexibility to customize just about everything else. The DIY setup starts at $749 and increases with the features and parts you add.
Be Health and Earth Conscious: RadRunner Electric Bike
One of the most common ways to be more earth-friendly is to ride a bike instead of driving your car. Whether it’s to work, to the grocery store, or wherever you go, riding a bike will always be better for the environment than driving your car. But depending on the distance from these locations, biking isn’t always an option.
This is where an electric bike can help you. The RadRunner 2 is an electric bike, which means it runs on a battery and your pedaling feet. Compared to other e-bikes on the market, the RadRunner 2 is an affordable option and a great way to see if an e-bike is right for you.
With a motor to help you, taking a short bike ride instead of driving might not seem so daunting. Of course, you still have to exert physical effort and recharge your bike between uses, but that makes riding your bike that much more appealing.