The Dumbest Green Gadgets

Not So Green Stuff

In all their attempts to piggyback on green product popularity, some consumer product developers have come up with some serious flops. In some cases, the production, upkeep costs and even dangers of these products negate the eco-friendly qualities they supposedly have. Here are 16 so-called green products that might not be so green or smart after all. It should also be noted that not all of these items are "gadgets" per se. Some of them fall into the broader category of green technology, but frankly we felt we just had to share them with you anyway. Photo Credit: fishermansdaughter


Dumb Green Gadget #1: Solar Hat Fan

While blistering heat in the summer might make you want to find any way possible to keep cool, there are much more effective and less annoying ways than this $10 solar hat fan that hangs right in front of your face. What’s more, the production of solar panels does actually require energy and produce and contain some toxic materials, so solar cells could be put to much better use than in a portable fan that you may hardly ever use. And anyway, just imagine what would happen if your fan was on and you tripped and fell on your face. A Better Idea: Try a wet washcloth instead. Or if you’re feeling up to it, fan yourself with a newspaper (it’s recyclable). Photo Credit: Gaiam.com


Dumb Green Gadget #2: Asus Ecobook

If you’re a laptop user who eats or drinks while working or surfing the Web, this laptop may not be for you. It’s made of bamboo and cardboard. While bamboo is a renewable resource that easily grows back like your lawn when cut, and it’s a fairly sturdy building material, much of it comes from Asia, which likely means using fossil fuels for their transport, causing air pollution. And the cardboard liner may be virtually useless if you tend to have a cup of coffee by your side while you’re typing away. Plus, what happens when your laptop heats up, or perchance if your battery catches fire? Maybe that’s why the laptop hasn’t gained popularity after its launch was announced in 2007. A Better Idea: There are plenty of affordable laptops out there that are proven to be durable. Photo Credit: Jason Riedy


Dumb Green Gadget #3: Solar-Powered Leather Bag

This expensive and awkward-looking leather bag may be able to charge your cell phone, but at three pounds, is it something you’ll actually want to carry around all day with more than just a cell phone in it? Probably not for $300, even if it’s made of the “finest dark brown cowskin-leather,“ according to its maker, Sunnybag. Any anyway, wouldn’t it make more sense for it to be made with more lightweight material than leather? A Better Idea: If you need to charge your phone on the go, you might as well get an Energizer XPalPower or a Duracell portable battery charger and a regular bag and save about $200. Photo Credit: SunBagShop.com


Dumb Green Gadget #4: USB Greenhouse

Having plants at your desk might brighten your mood at the office, but this $20 USB-powered greenhouse might take morale boosting a little too far. Plus, system requirements include a PC with Intel Pentium 4 operating at 2.4 gigahertz or faster, at least 128 megabytes of RAM, 100 megabytes of hard drive space, a Windows compatible soundcard, a CD-ROM drive, a specific type of display adapter capable Microsoft Windows XP. A Better Idea: If you really need to feel at one with nature within your workspace, try making a mason jar terrarium. Photo Credit: Dream Cheeky


Dumb Green Gadget #5: Green Paper Shredder

This fabulous shredder turns your unwanted documents into reusable note paper. We’ve heard of another invention that does something similar. Scissors. If you really want to get green with your paper, there are plenty of options. A Better Idea: If you really want a paper shredder and still stay green, try this hand-crank paper shredder that goes for just $12. Photo Credit: dboy


Dumb Green Gadget #6: Green Cell Phones

Green phones may sound like a good idea at first blush, especially since cell phones emit toxic chemicals when they’re junked instead of recycled. But the only thing biodegradable about the Samsung Reclaim phone is its cover. Motorola also offers what it calls a “carbon neutral” cell phone. The company purchases carbon offsets which support renewable energy use, reforestation and other eco-friendly efforts, so the description doesn’t necessarily refer to the production or the use of the phone itself. A Better Idea: A completely biodegradable, recyclable, super energy efficient cell phone doesn’t yet exists from what we can find. Until then, why not use the phone you have for six months longer that you otherwise would, then send it off to be reused or recycled when you inevitably decide to upgrade. Photo Credit: Samsung.com


Dumb Green Gadget #7: Drift Wood Lamp

$200 may be a bit much to pay for a simple lamp with a cotton lampshade and stack of old driftwood. But this “nature-inspired, handmade wooden sculpture table lamp … hand-assembled using pieces of reclaimed driftwood collected from local rivers” boasts “great design” according to new-agey online retailer Gaiam.com. A Better Idea: Burn some driftwood. You’ll get both light and heat. Photo Credit: Gaiam.com


Dumb Green Gadget #8: Bamboo Clothing

By itself, some true bamboo clothing might be an environmentally-friendly way to dress. But when toxic chemicals are used in the production of bamboo fabric and it needs to be dry cleaned, (a process also involving toxic chemicals), it’s a stretch to call it environmentally friendly. A Better Idea: Cotton is a renewable resource too. And you won’t have to pay more than $20 for a basic t-shirt. Photo Credit: Bambooclothes.com


Dumb Green Gadget #9: The Swiffer

Use-and-toss items are definitely an everyday convenience, but products like the Swiffer are actually contributing to the piles of trash in landfills, and they’re not necessarily biodegradable. “If someone were to load all of the disposable wipes purchased by consumers in North America last year onto 18-wheel semis, the caravan would number 9,000 trucks and stretch for 68 miles,” according to The Chicago Tribune. And disposable Swiffer pads from the water-saving Swiffer Wet Jet are among those. You may be saving water, but you’re adding to heaps of garbage in landfills. A Better Idea: Buy a regular mop and bucket at a dollar store for much less than you’d pay for a Swiffer. Add hot water and a little natural soap and you’re ready to go. Photo Credit: Jayel Aheram


Dumb Green Gadget #10: A Shower that Attacks

Talk about scaring you into good behavior. This inflatable shower curtain will attack you and wrap you up in spikes if you waste water by taking too long in the shower. This shower curtain is meant as a conversation piece and is not for sale. We imagine that the conversation will be shorter than your shower. A Better Idea: Just take a quicker shower. Check a clock if you have to. Photo Credit: puffandflock.com


Dumb Green Gadget #11: Blood Sucking Lamp

If you’re really trying to cut down on your power usage, you can now use your own blood to power an illuminating device instead of using electricity. It works by combining blood with a chemical called luminol which glows in reaction to iron in your blood. It’s only a single-use device. A Better Idea: They don’t appear to be for sale online, but do you really need a glowing decoration that requires you to slice yourself open? I know these vampire movies are popular, but come on. If you only need a little light for a little while, try a hand-crank flashlight. Photo Credit: miket.co.uk


Dumb Green Gadget #12: Plastic From Pig Pee

Pig pee could be just as valuable as fossil fuels like gas, coal and oil, suggests Popular Science. And of course it’s renewable. Urea in urine can be recycled in the manufacturing of so-called bioplastics or in the production of soaps and lotions. A Better Idea: Even if pig pee plastic plates were cheaper than the ones not made out of pig urine, you might still prefer those not made from urine. If you want to eat off of pig urine, Mr. Big Shot Environmentalist, go ahead. Not me. There are plenty of more eco-friendly plastics and bamboo alternatives to choose from. Photo Credit: Andrew Mason


Dumb Green Gadget #13: Indoor Pet Potty

If the thought of a landfill full of Wee Wee Pads makes you shudder or you wish you had a litter box for your dog, you may consider a less wasteful, but possibly more smelly alternative: the Petapotty. This fake grass-line pee place comes in seven different sizes, accommodating dogs of all kinds. You can even drill hole in the side and attach a hose for easy draining. A Better Idea: Take your dog outside. Photo Credit: Petapotty.com


Dumb Green Gadget #14: Green Gas Station

This Los Angeles BP gas station made of recycled building materials collects rainwater and uses solar panels and LED lighting. We’d like to see a Hummer fueling up here. A Better Idea: This is a nice PR move, BP, but we need more fuel efficient cars, not fuel efficient gas stations. P.S., you can also limit the amount of pollution you cause by getting regular emissions tests or converting your car into one that can use flex fuel. Photo Credit: bp.com


Dumb Green Gadget #15: Green Water Bottling Plant

This water bottling facility is supposed to be energy efficient, and bottled water may be convenient, but the bottles themselves are made using petroleum which is extracted from the earth and distilled requiring a significant amount of energy. Plastic water bottles also contain potentially hazardous chemicals and many don’t end up getting recycled, making the concept of a green water bottling facility pretty much moot. A Better Idea: Use a water filter like a Brita pitcher or one attached to your faucet, reducing waste and saving money in the long run. Photo Credit: ingridtaylar


Dumb Green Gadget #16: Skin Jacket

Leather lovers have a more animal-friendly option if they can stomach the concept: living mouse and human cells can be grown in a lab to create your very own custom jackets made of so-called “victimless” leather. A Better Idea: Again, I’m about to throw up. Give me pleather and vinyl any day. Photo Credit: Andrew Mason


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