For many people, the words “tech” and “sustainability” don’t go hand in hand. But they can! There’s a lot of great tech out there that can inspire a more sustainable life and help you be kinder to the environment.
A few of these tech goodies are awesome sustainable swaps for traditionally non-sustainable products in your life, like swapping out boring notebook paper for a smart notebook that you can reuse over and over. Then, there are other products that come from companies with sustainability as one of its core values and some that are made with environmentally friendly materials.
In a nutshell, sustainability describes whether something (a product, action, resource, etc.) can hold up over a long period. Solar energy, for example, is more sustainable than fossil fuel energy sources because the sun’s not going anywhere anytime soon; fossil fuel sources, however, are quickly being depleted.
To put the concept of sustainability in a non-environmental example, let’s examine 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 at least by 11 p.m. to get a good night’s sleep.
Let’s say that 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 for work. Although he might be able to do this for a day or two, he can’t continue with this pattern. It’s not sustainable.
One of my favorite explanations of sustainability says something along the lines of needing to meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the future generation’s ability to meet those same needs.
As tech companies evolve, it’s natural (pun intended) that some may become more environmentally conscious. But how exactly does a company that produces tech do so more sustainably?
The materials that a company uses in its products are a huge consideration. This extends from the materials used in the actual product being sold to the shipping or packaging materials. Companies can use less plastic and styrofoam when sending products out and use more renewable resources in products, like solar energy, and in their manufacturing plants.
Another huge source of tech company sustainability to consider is how each recycles and reuses its products. A company that regularly produces laptops, earbuds, or other tech can have a pretty sweet recycling program. Whether a company offers a discount in return for recycled tech, takes recycled tech and donates it, or sells it at a discounted rate, it’s a great way to keep electronics out of landfills. Likewise, electronics designed with repairability in mind are equally great.
Tech itself can be considered sustainable if it makes you swap out something in your daily routine that’s not so sustainable. Take the first item on our list, for example. The Rocketbook Fusion is a reusable notebook, allowing you to (re)use it instead of paper and save some trees.
Though 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 godsend because there are so many different pages inside for you to use. There’s a calendar view, weekly planning pages, lined pages, dotted pages, and more—and they’re all reusable!
You have to use Pilot Frixion writing utensils specifically, as this is the only ink that properly bonds to and erases from the pages. As soon as you’re done writing everything down, you’ll scan the page to the Rocketbook app (Android/iOS), erase the page using water and the included microfiber cloth, and voila! It’s good as new!
Smart Reusable Notebook
You’ll love making lists and saving paper with Rocketbook’s Fusion notebook.
Many people ditch 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 going to upgrade your search engine, why not go with one that’ll 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 saved. If you want, you can also download the Ecosia extension on your Chrome browser too.
Reveal’s bamboo speaker is sustainable in more ways than one. Although you can use a power outlet to plug it in and power it, you can also go cord-free thanks to its built-in monocrystalline solar panels, which simply means that each solar panel is made of a single silicon crystal. If you live in a place that’s sunny enough, you can leave it on a windowsill and probably never have to plug it in.
The speaker is made with sustainable bamboo that’s also stunning to look at it. 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. At full charge, the speaker can last for about 15 hours. So even if you have a few rainy days, you’ve still got plenty of charge to last until the sun comes back out.
You use your phone every single day, so why not cover it with a case that’ll make you feel good about yourself every time you look at it. A phone case from Pela is excellent for the environment and looks fantastic on your phone, whether you have an iPhone (5 – 13, SE), a Google Pixel (3a – 6), or a 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 cases are 100% compostable, which means they’ll fully break down and not harm 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.
Plus, Pela uses fully recyclable packaging paper for your case; you can recycle it or compost it. Despite being super sustainable, 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.
A list of the best sustainable tech wouldn’t be complete without a solar charger. Anker is known for making some of the best portable batteries, and this solar charger from them is a great pick.
It has a massive 20,000mAh cell and dual-charging capacity that can charge your devices effectively and repeatedly. The USB-C port puts out 18W, and the USB-A port puts out 12W. Although it needs solar power to build up the battery, it’s built to withstand rain, dust, and drops. There’s also a handy built-in flashlight!
While there’s nothing specifically sustainable about Skullcandy’s Sesh Evo earbuds, the company as a whole is dedicated to being environmentally conscious. Sustainability is important to Skullcandy, from implementing more recyclable packaging to partnering with climate change organizations to upcycling or recycling a pair of old earbuds.
If you have a pair of old earbuds or headphones (any brand), you can send them to Skullcandy and get a 30% off coupon for your next Skullcandy order. That 30% is off your whole order, by the way, not just one item. Since Skullcandy’s sustainability program started in July 2019, the company has diverted over 500,000 units from landfills.
Once Skullcandy gets your earbuds or headphones, they evaluate them to determine whether they can be upcycled or recycled. If possible, Skullcandy loves to upcycle old electronics and sell them refurbished at a discounted rate, with a portion of those proceeds going to Protect Our Winters. If the device can’t be refurbished, it’s broken down and properly recycled.
Environmentally Friendly Buds
Skullcandy Sesh Evo
Skullcandy is an insanely sustainable company, so consider buying more than just these awesome Sesh Evo earbuds.
The Framework laptop can be repaired and customized as many times as you want, and what’s more sustainable than that? Instead of buying an entirely new laptop every time yours dies, you can just replace the specific part that malfunctioned with the Framework laptop.
It’s thin and lightweight, with a 13.5-inch screen, and it gives you the ability to customize just about everything else. The DIY configuration starts at $749 and increases depending on which features and parts you add.
One of the most common ways to be kinder to the Earth is to ride your bike instead of driving your car. Whether that’s to work, to the grocery store, or anywhere else you frequent, riding your bike is always going to be better for the environment than driving your car. But depending on how far those locations are, riding your bike isn’t always an option.
That’s where an electric bike can help you out. The RadRunner 2 is an electric bike, which means that it runs off a battery and your pedaling feet. Compared to other electric bikes on the market, the RadRunner 2 is an affordable option and a great way to see if an electric bike is for you.
With a motor to help, biking a short commute instead of driving might not sound so daunting. Sure, you still have to put in some physical effort and recharge your bike in between uses, but it makes riding your bike a lot more appealing.