SemaConnect Blog

December 5, 2014

SemaConnect’s Eco-Geek Wish List to keep you on Santa’s good side

Ah, December, you elusive little minx. You’ve been teasing us with your presence since early October, when retail stores have cleverly added Santa costumes to their Halloween racks, and in November, when tins of Christmas cookies surreptitiously appeared next to Thanksgiving displays.

Now, you’re finally here and I can unabashedly pour myself a glass of fully fatted eggnog and let the world know that Rudolph’s nose was so shiny it was like a light bulb while singing along as loudly as I can while I write to you, my readers and friends, these incredibly informative, yet entertaining blogs. Sure, I might get some strange looks, but in the immortal words of Taylor Swift, haters gonna hate.

You see, December is the month of guilty pleasures – latkes fried in lots of oil for Hanukkah, a little too much rum in the eggnog at the office holiday party, the traditional wearing of the ugly sweater, spending far too much money buying dad ties with Santa’s face plastered all over them – the list goes on and on.

I love December, but the guilty pleasure hangover that we get to experience when January and the dreaded New Year Resolution rolls around is a good reminder of why December only comes once a year (aside from the Earth revolving around the sun and all those other silly calendar reasons).

But here at SemaConnect, we wanted to let you know that you can have your (fruit)cake and eat it too!

Back away from the ugly sweaters and turn your I-just-can’t-stop-myself holiday binge-buying guilt into a positive affirmation that you’re doing some good in this world with your never-ending shopping spree. We found some awesome big-kid toys that can give you the same fun rush of purchasing and owning, and yet still be good for your environment and even your wallet! Some items on this list aren’t necessarily the newest, but we still think they’re some of the coolest.

So, check out these great green gadgets that are sure to put you on Santa’s Nice list (and Dad’s too, if you decide to swap out his tie for one of these items).

1. Pre-driven Tesla Model S

There is nothing wrong with getting a bargain during the holidays, and if the coveted Model S has been outside your price range, Tesla is now making it (slightly) easier on the wallet to make owning one a reality. As the company prepares to make room for the D-series and autopilot versions of their vehicles, many of the test and loaner Model S’s are available at a deep discount. Tesla previously discounted these members of their fleet by 1% for every month they aged and $1 for each mile driven, but now that discount has doubled.  Gas2 recently reported that one buyer was able to score a 60kWh Model S, originally listed at $83,000 for $58,500 after the $7,500 Federal tax rebate – a savings of over $25,000! And if anyone on your Christmas list complains about getting a used Tesla – feel free to send them a lump of so-called clean coal next year.

2. USBCell Rechargable Batteries

Perhaps $58,000 is just a tad out of your price range. You can still make a hit with these stocking stuffers. The USBCell MXAA02 AA rechargeable battery does double duty by making sure your battery operated gadgets stay running while keeping thousands of otherwise disposable batteries out of landfills. Simply plug the USBCell battery into any gadget or gizmo that takes an AA battery. The charge will last roughly a month and when the indicator light shows power is running out, take out the battery, pop the top and discover a hidden USB connector inside. Plug your battery into your laptop or any other USB charging device and you’ll be back up to 90% power within 5 hours. offers a 2-pack for $15.23, and if you’re a Prime member, shipping is free. At that price, you can grab two pair and have a backup set for when you have to recharge.

3. iZen Bamboo Bluetooth Keyboard

If rechargeable Lithium-Ion batteries are more your speed (and who in the EV world doesn’t love the Lithium-Ion battery?), check out the iZen Bamboo Bluetooth Keyboard, which touts itself as the “world’s very first eco-friendly Bluetooth keyboard on the market.” Now in two versions, the Original and the slimmer, sleeker V2, each is handcrafted from renewable, recyclable, fast-growing bamboo and will pair with any gadget with a Bluetooth connection, whether it be Apple, Android or the latest Smart TV. Prices range from  $69.95 for the Original, up to $95.95 for V2, but the piece of mind you get from knowing you won’t be contributing another plastic product to a landfill is priceless.

4. Q & Q Smile Solar Watch
Going green is making a statement, and what better statement to make than with accessories? The Q & Q Smile Solar Watch is made from recycled materials and includes photovoltaic panels that create 3 hours of battery life for every hour the watch spends in the sun. Not only is this watch green, it’s funky, with band pattern names like Perky Stripes, Choco Mint, and Savvy Dots. But perhaps the best kind of statement you can make is by supporting a green company who donates a portion of every sale to Table for Two, which delivers school meals to children in Africa and Asia.

5. Nest Thermostat

Winter usually means cranking up the heat, and then forgetting about it when you leave the house, but these habits can rack up an additional 20% on your heating (and in the summer, cooling) bill. With the Nest Thermostat, you only need to spend one week being diligent about the types of temperatures you prefer during which parts of the day and the system learns your preferences and starts to program itself. If you forget to turn your heat down when you leave, Nest learns your patterns and will do it for you. Heading home early one day? No worries, there’s an app for that. With the Nest App you can access your thermostat from your smartphone and make any spur of the moment changes. Each Nest Thermostat costs $249, but depending on your location, size of home, and type of heat used, cost savings can be significant, with the potential to have the unit pay for itself within the first year of ownership.

6. Phillips EcoNova Television with solar powered remote control

There is almost nothing worse than crashing on the couch after a giant holiday meal, reaching for the remote to turn on It’s A Wonderful Life for the 8th time this month only to find out that you need to replace the batteries. Not only is the Phillips EcoNova Television one of the greenest TV’s on the market, but it also comes with a solar powered rechargeable remote with a built-in accumulator, creating a significant energy reserve to keep your remote going all through those darker winter months. The TV itself is made of 60% recycled aluminum while keeping one of the thinnest profiles on the market and includes a zero watt power switch to avoid vampire electricity usage. Keeping waste to a minimum, Phillips also includes a 2-in-1 wall mount and TV stand – kick the stand down to set it on a media console, or flick it up and attach it to the wall. Each position allows for swiveling so all of your out-of-town holiday guests can watch. Not to be outdone by the TV, the EcoNova’s packaging is also 100% recyclable, using only paper and cardboard – remove the TV from the box and leave the rest as the most environmentally responsible gift your cat has ever received.

7. Goal Zero Yeti 150 Solar Power Generator

Those sneaky winter snowstorms have a bad habit of popping up and taking down power lines this time of year. Gas generators have been the go-to for backup power, but they’re noisy, smelly, and if you can’t get to the store for extra gas, all you’ve got is a really heavy, and not very pretty, lawn ornament. Instead, take back the power to recharge your life with the Goal Zero Yeti 150 Solar Power Generator. Unlike a gas generator, the Yeti emits no toxic fumes and the 150 watt-hour battery can power lights for up to 50 hours, recharge your smartphone 15 times or bring your laptop back to full power twice. There are 3 ways to charge your Yeti – solar, with the included solar panel, via a regular wall outlet, or by plugging into your car 12v adapter. Best of all, at 12 lbs, this is one generator that you can take with you when cabin fever gets the best of you and you start planning your spring camping trips. Goal Zero makes 3 versions of its Yeti generator, from the 150Wh to the 1200Wh and ranges in price from $199.99 – $1399.99.

8. BioLite BaseCamp

All of these thoughts of snow have me dreaming about summertime and cookouts on the beach. Built for a group, the BioLite BaseCamp is concepted off the same technology as the original BioLite CampStove, Powered by wood – either your own bundle that you brought with you (cheater!) or from fallen branches and twigs, you can grill the best burgers while powering your SmartPhone from the same device. Heat from the fire powers a thermoelectric generator which in turn powers a fan that blows air back into the burn chamber for improved combustion. Surplus energy is then sent back to the PowerPack. The 5 watt-with-storage-capabilities PowerPack contains your USB port for device charging, SmartDashboard that allows you to see how hot the fire is and how much electricity is being generated, and even an included USB light for night time cooking. If cooking for one is more your style, the BioLite CampStove is a campers delight – small enough to fit in your backpack, this much smaller version of the stove works off the same technology, but does not include the nighttime light or power storage capabilities. Backpackers can even purchase a collapsible grill top attachment that will fit into your pack and allow you to grill in the backcountry. Stoves range in price from $129.95 –  $299.95.

So there you have it; 8 of the greatest green gifts on the market today. Wrap one up for a friend or family member, or heck, even yourself – just remember to act surprised when you open the package on December 25th – “I had no idea!”

Now that I’ve earned myself a little good Christmas Karma for sharing these gadgets, it’s time to go pour a little eggnog into my hot chocolate – because why not – and curl up in front of my guiltiest pleasure of the season, A Muppets Christmas Carol, while I wait to hear about your not-so-guilty eco-geek pleasures you’ve found on the market. Which are your favorites?

Lauren Demko serves as Marketing Associate at SemaConnect and the Editor of the SemaConnect blog. After earning her B.A. in electronic media from The George Washington University, Lauren spent the next decade working in science and media education while working towards her MFA in environmental documentary film making from American University. An award-winning filmmaker and photographer, Lauren is passionate about spending time in nature, especially with her rescue cane corso, Riley.

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