It’s easy being green: recycling tech that’ll save the planet


We may not all have a pad like this, but we can make what we do have kinder to the environment (Getty)

It turns out Kermit had it wrong when he proclaimed it ain’t easy bein’ green.

It’s never been simpler to turn off the firehose of waste that we kick out every year with a bit of clever investment in some super smart tech.

The dire future of the planet has never been more apparant unless we dramatically change our living standards.

Being smarter about how we operate our homes and our transport will have lasting repercussions.

And companies big and small are rising to the challenge with some innovative new gear to help you out.

So we’ve rounded up some of the best bits to get you started. Take note, Kermit.

Repurpose old stuff

We’re pretty bad when it comes to e-waste (Getty)

Step away from the bin! When it comes to electronic waste, the UK is the second-worst offender in Europe.

According to research by rubbish removal company Clearitwaste, the average UK household is guilty of generating eight-and-a-half stone of e-waste per year.

That’s the equivalent of 20 22in computer monitors. While there are many options for selling or donating devices to charity, there are plenty of ways you can breathe new life into them.

It’s very likely you have one or two old devices lying around the house, so why not put them to work as a security camera or baby monitor?

You’ll need software and a decent WiFi connection, which makes Manything or Alfred (free, Android and iOS) good places to start.

They provide a constant video feed that you can tap into using another device from anywhere in the world. Just remember it’ll need to stay connected to a power supply at all times.

Save plastic bottles

SodaStream is back, folks (SodaStream)

Why splash out on bottled water when you can have it on tap with the SodaStream Spirit (£99, sodastream.co.uk)?

Research indicates that we use 7.7billion plastic bottles each year in the UK. That breaks down to an average of 117 bottles per person.

This retro household fixture ends the need to buy single-use plastic bottles by transforming tap water into sparkling H2O.

Each gas cylinder creates up to 60 litres of sparkling water, and according to its creators, each SodaStream saves 1,282 single-use plastic bottles from being used.

Did we mention you can make cocktails with it too?

Ditch the car

Swytch turns any regular bike into an electric bike (Swytch)

Swapping the car for cycling just one day a week can have a significant impact on personal carbon emissions.

But if you’d like to ditch the car in favour of a pricey electric metal steed, you might want to first try Swytch’s clever eBike conversion kit (from £999, pre-order, swytchbike.com).

Consisting of a motor wheel that replaces your bike’s front wheel, and a handlebar-mounted quick-release battery unit, a cadence sensor checks how fast you’re pedalling, calculates the optimum power needed and adjusts the power accordingly, converting your bog-standard bike into an electric one to give you a boost when you need it.

Expect 250W of power, five power levels, a top speed of 20mph and enough juice to peddle hell for leather for up to 30 miles.

Reduce your electricity bills

Lutron is a double-whammy of energy efficient bulbs and shades for your house (Lutron)

With large amounts of wasted energy in our homes, smart lighting and electric blinds can play a fundamental role.

That makes Lutron’s RA2 Select system (from £600, lutron.com) a genius way to reduce bills.

By combining a smart, dimmable and energy-efficient LED lighting system with automated energy efficient shades (also from £600), you get to choose from a long list of shade and lighting combos that can contribute to energy savings.

Add the shades too for maximum savings (Lutron)

Control is taken care of by customisable wireless Pico remotes, your smartphone/tablet, or Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri-powered smart speaker.

That means you can pre-program your blinds to automatically close when the sun disappears and temperatures start to drop, to maximise heat retention, for example, or automatically roll them the other way to help let in as much light and heat as possible, reducing the need for extra energy.

Save energy

Hive’s Active Heating will make your home more energy efficient and save you cash (Hive)

Did you know that heating an empty home for just two hours a day could add up to an additional £115 on your heating bill a year?

With a quarter of Brits admitting to leaving their heating on when they’re not at home, smart thermostats are a brilliant way to save money and reduce wasted energy.

Hive wants to take it one step further with its Heating Plus subscription service (£3.99 per month). Working alongside its Active Heating (£99, hivehome.com, above), it boasts an integrated budget tracker and heating efficiency monitor that helps users track their heating-spend via the Hive app, reduce bills and lower their carbon footprint.

There are also personalised money-saving recommendations based on usage and home heating inefficiency alerts.

Reduce digital pollution

Cleaning emails is a pain, so this app will do it for you (Cleanfox)

Fun fact: if you didn’t tidy up your inbox for ten years, it would generate a carbon footprint of around 2.36 tonnes of CO2. That’s more than a round-trip flight from London to Istanbul.

On average, we receive over 2,850 promotional emails per year, which is equivalent to four-and-a-half stone of CO2 per year — enough to power a lightbulb for 137 days. That’s according to Cleanfox, which also happens to have an anti-spam solution for reducing your digital pollution. Its app (free iOS/Android, also available via cleanfox.io) automatically scans your inbox and presents you with a list of newsletter-type emails and subsequently makes it super simple for you to unsubscribe or delete using Tinder-style swipes.

Save water

The Eve Water Guard Leak Sensor will pick up on any wasted water (Eve Water)

Household leaks account for nearly three billion litres of wasted water every day. That’s the equivalent to 1,180 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

The Eve Water Guard Leak Sensor (£83.25, amazon.co.uk) is an easy solution for monitoring leaky points in your home and will give you a gentle nudge on your iPhone or iPad when even the slightest bit of moisture is detected.

Reduce food waste

Olio lets you share food with your neighbourhood (Credits: Zuzanna Rabikowska)

It’s estimated that more than 1.6 billion tonnes goes uneaten worldwide every year, and with the average UK family throwing out £730 worth a year, eco-conscious consumers have an excellent app-based fix.

Neighbourhood sharing app Olio (free, iOS/Android, above) does an excellent job of tackling food waste by allowing users to buy, sell or give away unwanted produce before its use-by date.

Even Tesco, Pret, Costa and local bakeries and restaurants are in on the action. And if you’ve got any furniture, clothes, cookware or anything else cluttering up your flat, anyone local can take them off your hands too.

A few more eco-friendly gadgets

Amazon smart plug

Inject intelligence into your plug sockets (Amazon)

Inject intelligence into your power socket by sticking Amazon’s smart plug into it, to give dumb appliances remote on/off functionality, the option to schedule automated on/off times, all from the tap of an app, or by using your voice box via Alexa. You’ll never forget to turn off an appliance again.

£24.99, amazon.co.uk

Majority audio

Looks good, sounds good (Majority)

Make a purchase from Majority’s wonderfully pocket-friendly range of products, choosing from soundbars and radios to Bluetooth speakers, and the carbon-neutral audio company will plant a tree in your name. If your love of audio is as big as your desire to take care of the environment, it really is a no-brainer. From £14.95, majority.co.uk

Fossil Limited-Edition LE Solar Watch

A planet-friendly smartwatch (Credits: Jim Wright)

Fossil’s planet-friendly smartwatch is a most excellent example of sustainable wrist candy. It boasts bioplastic casing and the ability to reach a full charge after an eight-hour soak in the sun, then keep going for up to three months. Other features include a compass, stopwatch, alarm and the ability to check local time in 49 cities. £149 (available April 22), fossil.com

Gomi speaker

Made from non-recyclable plastic waste (Gomi)

The Brighton-based brains behind this beautiful Bluetooth speaker have breathed new life into non-recyclable plastic waste that would otherwise go into landfill and crafted this marbled-effect music box. Each speaker-casing is handmade from 100 waste plastic bags that are melted down and pressed into moulds.

£129, gomi.design

This article contains affiliate links. We may earn a small commission on purchases made through one of these links but this never influences our experts’ opinions. Products are tested and reviewed independently of commercial initiatives.

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