Great Green Tech Gifts for Everyone

These gifts for a range of budgets and tastes target electronics lovers who want to leave small eco-footprint.

Gadgets that create no waste and are powered by entirely good intentions may remain wishful thinking, but innovative electronics makers are exploring renewable energy, recycled materials. and energy-saving features. Whether your budget is high or low, these eco-savvy tech toys are made to please tech enthusiasts who want cleaner , greener gadgets.

Sounds Green

For $15, you can get Universal DIY Speakers in a plug-and-play cardboard design from Merkury Innovations. The company's $20 Eco Boombox is made from unused packaging that would otherwise have been thrown away.

Eton FR160B Microlink Radio

Make like the Boy Scout motto, and "be prepared." The next time a camping trip (or natural disaster) leaves you in the dark, you can tune into this radio, which gets a charge from a hand crank or from solar power. The multitasking, compact device includes NOAA weather channels as well as AM/FM reception; it also has a an LED flashlight and can charge a cell phone. The Red Cross model is red, or you can opt for basic black, each priced at around $30.

Joby Gorillapod

If Gumby had a mini tripod, it would be the $20 Gorillapod . You can twist its knobby legs into wacky positions, or even hang it in a tree to catch the perfect shot. A $40 version is hefty enough to hold an SLR. What's green about these tripods? Not much--but Gorillapod maker Joby does use recyclable packaging and donates 1 percent of sales to environmental organizations.

Logitech Solar Keyboard

A solar-powered keyboard might sound counterintuitive, since you're most likely to use it indoors, but this peripheral is sensitive enough to pick up charge from a lamp. The PVC-free case of the $80 Logitech Solar Wireless Keyboard 750 measures 0.33 inch thick. Its USB receiver stays plugged into your PC, so you won't have to mess with cords. A solar app provides details about how much battery power remains.

Owleye Solar Bike Light

If you’re riding around outdoors anyway, why not charge your bike light from the sun and forget the disposable batteries? This solar-powered, water-resistant headlight from Owleye costs around $80 and comes in white or black. Tail lights are priced at around $20. The LED headlamps provide more than 200 lumens of light and are built to illuminate objects at distances of up to 33 feet ahead. If you’re low on sunlight for a needed charge, you can plug the headlight into another device via mini USB to power up.

Recompute Cardboard PC

You don't have to encase your desktop in polluting plastic. These customizable Recompute PCs are housed in corrugated cardboard held together by nontoxic white glue. You can order them for between $500 and $1000 with Windows 7, Linux, or no preinstalled operating system.

Voltaic Solar Backpack

The $250 Voltaic solar backpack includes a pair of 2-watt, detachable solar panels that can output up to 12 volts. The backpack provides compartments for your gadgets and a handful of connecting fobs for smartphones, MP3 players, digital cameras, and other small gizmos. The bag is designed to power up after 4 or 5 hours in the sun, at which point it can support 3 hours of talking for a cell phone. In a pinch, you can charge the solar panels via USB. Voltaic makes laptop bags , too.

Energizer Universal Charger

A technophile can never have too many batteries. But since disposable batteries pollute landfills, rechargeable batteries are a better, longer-lasting option. The Energizer Universal Compact Battery Charger can provide juice to AA, AAA, C, D, and 9-volt batteries. It costs around $35 and fits easily into a tote bag or purse.

Brunton Solar Chargers

Brunton makes rugged solar chargers for smartphones, digital cameras, and other handheld devices. The Freedom (left) costs $96 and the folding Restore goes for $124. Though many other off-grid gadget chargers crowd the market, we like Brunton's simple, waterproof design.

Sony GreenHeart phones

Sony Ericsson offers a GreenHeart line of cell phones. For this $220 Elm handset, Sony pairs recycled plastic with low-toxicity ingredients such as water-based paint. The Aspen includes a QWERTY keyobard and costs about $250; the Hazel sliderphone runs approximately $200 at various online merchants.

Keyboard Jewelry

Do a creative search on Etsy.com to find KeyedUp and other small shops that sell necklaces, cufflinks, and earrings composed of recycled computer keys and circuit boards. You'll find handmade baubles to dress up lovers of both Macs and PCs.

Eco Town

If you don't want your kids to play dirty, you can invest in the $200 Eco Town from Plan Toys. It includes imaginary solar panels, recycling facilities, a charging station for electric cars, and a wind turbine. The kit is made of nontoxic materials such as organic rubber wood.

NatureMill Composter

As more municipalities support composting, more people are purchasing countertop pails or crocks to hold kitchen scraps. But the NatureMill Composter goes a step further by brewing garden-ready fertilizer from scraps of meat, veggies, and coffee grounds within two weeks. Its makers say that the contraption expends only 50 cents' worth of energy a month. The new XE model includes a beefed-up motor and carbon filter.

ATP EarthDrive

This is the first recyclable USB drive--thanks to plant-based PLA plastics. But don't fear that the gadget will crumble and biodegrade while on the job: The waterproof drive is built to last a decade. Each drive provides between 1GB and 16GB of storage space, and enables password protection to keep your data safe at your fingertips. A portion of the sale price--$16 to $70, depending on capacity--goes to fund tree planting, thanks to the nonprofit American Forests.

Volt-star Eco Charger

This charger shuts off when it has finished recharging a cell phone or other 5-volt gizmo, so it doesn't consume unnecessary "vampire" power. It costs $32--or $34 with an Apple adapter.

Thinksound Wood Headphones

These $75 headphones are designed to deliver rich, resonant sound for the iPhone, iPod, and other MP3 players. The Thinksound ts01 earbuds come in a "black chocolate" or "silver cherry" wooden housing with an aluminum baffle. The wood comes from a renewable source, as does the cotton used for the carrying pouch; and the cables lack PVC plastic. Packaging includes bleach-free, recycled materials.

Belkin Conserve Line

Belkin produces a Conserve line of energy-saving gadgets . Plug a device into the $29 Conserve Insight (above, left), and it calculates the item's electricity costs. Also priced at $29, the Smart AV power strip (right) cuts the power to connected peripherals when you shut down the main machine, such as a PC or TV. The $39 Conserve Valet (bottom) charges up to four mobile devices at the same time. The $10 Socket (not pictured) is a simple power-timer outlet.

More Green Gifts

To minimize waste and pollution, make sure to recycle old gadgets responsibly, and try to support vendors that have a good track record with groups such as Greenpeace, which offers a green electronics scorecard . For more green tech tips and gift ideas, check out these other stories:

Gifts for Do-Gooders

Make Money Selling Your Old Tech

12 Money-Saving, Power-Sipping Gadgets

Green Computing: The Good and the Bad

Green Tech Tips to Save Money

Save Serious Money With an Energy Audit

Green Tech and Gadgets For Earth Day