Audi A3 TDI clean diesel wins 2010 Green Car of the Year

Audi A3 TDI

A green car doesn’t have to be a hybrid or electric, as we’ve pointed out in some of our previous diesel car posts.

And to prove it, we submit the 2010 Audi A3 TDI, which was named the 2010 Green Car of the Year at the Los Angeles Auto Show. (And hey, last year it was the Volkswagen Jetta TDI with the same engine!)

I’m trying to decide between this car, the Jetta SportWagen TDI, or the Golf 4 door TDI as my next car. Opinions?

Like the Audi A3 TDI as much as I do and want to learn more?

Here’s some link goodness for you:

2010 Audi A3 TDI official web site.

Green Car Reports test drive

AutoBlog Green review.

The Truth About Cars review.

Photo courtesy of Mike Babcock and Flickr via Creative Commons attribution license.

Your best green gift ideas

Gift

You’ve seen our green gift picks. But now, we’d like to see your green gift ideas!

What’s the best gift you’ve given or received?

Leave us a comment and let us know!

Be sure to tell us what it is, why you like it, and give us a link, if appropriate.

We’ll take our favorites from the comments and incorporate them into this blog post, improving it as we go. The idea is to end up with the best resource ever for eco friendly / green gifts.

Let’s please keep it reasonable. I’m hoping this won’t attract a bunch of spammy replies!

We’ll see if crowdsourcing the gift ideas works.

(Top photo credit: phaewilk from morguefile.com.)

9 Unique & Green Gift Ideas

Looking for unique eco friendly Christmas gifts for the environmentalist in your life? Here is a selection of green gifts to cover ideas from your office gift trade to your loved ones. Regardless who you are shopping for, remember a key to giving unique eco friendly gifts is to make sure they are both practical and usable gifts.

What’s the point of buying an eco friendly gift if it sits up on a shelf in the back of a closet? That’s a waste of energy to produce and ship the gift. If you choose usable eco friendly gifts wisely, you’ll be able to benefit the environment by your gift being used. It’s a win-win for the shopper and the receiver. Oh, and the environment, of course.

Here are 9 green gift ideas that will avoid storage in the back of the closet and you can feel good about giving!

1. Solio Portable Hybrid Solar Charger

solar charger

This portable solar charger is pretty cool. It’s great for someone always on the go, and always saying the battery is dying. The solar charger is topped with a carabiner and has a durable Lexan shell. So, clip it on a belt loop, bike, or even a briefcase. You don’t have to be in a car or at the desk to charge that cell phone. This solar charger doesn’t have to actively be in the sun to charge a device. It holds the charge for up to one year.

2. Envirocycle Tumbling Composter

envirocycle composter

Here’s the ultimate gift for recycling: a composter. This Envirocycle Tumbling Composter for $ 149.99 spins to aerate and mix the compost. Tumbling composters produce finished compost faster than standard composters. It’s a great eco friendly choice for a gift since it recycles food and lawn wastes and produces a great organic fertilizer for the lawn and garden.

3. Roadrunner Low Flow Shower Head

roadrunner shower head

The Roadrunner Low Flow Shower Head for $39.95 makes a perfect Christmas gift for the environmentalists. Help them save water and money on their utility bills! This low flow shower head even has a sensor to monitor water temperature. It pauses the water flow when it’s warm to prevent wasting water.

4. Raised Bed Garden Planter

raised bed planter

Do you need any unique Christmas gift ideas for locavores? You know, shoppers at the weekend farmer’s market looking for local produce. Here’s an eco friendly gift so they can grow their own organic food. The Raised Bed Garden Planter for $299.99 is great for small spaces, even a patio, deck, rooftop or balcony. It’s a 4 x 4 growing space. That’s perfect for the grower to get a lot of produce in a confined space, especially if they use the square foot gardening method. It comes with a watering system, too.

5. Kleen Kanteen Stainless Steel Water Bottle

kleen kanteen

Do you know anyone still drinking out of plastic water bottles? This Kleen Kanteen stainless reusable water bottle is a great gift for $17.99, especially for the office Christmas party. Help folks cut down on trash, and give them a non-leaching, toxin-free way to hydrate.

6. Reel Mower

A reel push mower makes the perfect unique Christmas gift. If you’re shopping for the person that has everything, chances are they don’t have one of these reel mowers. Reel mowers, also, make great gifts to newly married or engaged couples, and new homeowners. Prices range based on models, but here’s a Brill push reel mower for $249.99.

7. Bamboo Kitchen Products

bamboo bowl

Bamboo is becoming more and more popular as a renewable resource. Check out this line of bamboo kitchen products from Bambu. Contemporary in design, responsibly made, and affordably priced. They’re great kitchen products for everyday use, and impressive for a green dinner party!

8. Donate Money for an Environmental Cause

Here’s another green gift — donate money to a good cause. There are a lot of agencies working for environmental issues that will be more than happy to put your dollars to work. Two agencies you could consider are the Nature Conservancy and Trees for the Future. You can donate in someone’s name to help preserve the rain forest or plant a tree. Now, it’s not a gift in hand, so to speak. But, it’s still an eco friendly gift and you can decide the dollar amount you want to give.

Or readers, what’s your favorite environmental charity?

9. Reusable Gift Wrap

Don’t forget to be eco friendly when it comes to wrapping the gift. Here’s a gift that is truly respectable to regift– Lyziwraps reusable gift wrap. We found this gift wrap to be festive for the holidays but reusable for any occasion. They come in four different sizes and range from $6.00 to $10.00. Let the wrapping become part of the gift.

When giving eco friendly gifts think about the big picture, too, of giving practical, usable gifts. Things people are sure to use and not stick up on a shelf. It prevents waste. Giving eco friendly gifts supports your green ideas, but also, continues environmental stewardship by the gifts being used.

Do you have other ideas about green gifts that you’d like to give or receive?

Leave us a comment and tell us!

Battery reconditioning instead of replacement: an eco friendly solution?


car battery

I have a battery operated gate in my driveway. It runs off a deep cycle marine battery that is charged with a solar panel. A couple of years ago, the battery stopped working, the gate wouldn’t open, and I had to buy a replacement for it. Let me tell you that marine batteries are not cheap!

Having gone through that experience, this site about how to recondition batteries yourself caught my eye.

I purchased the report, which goes into great detail about the differences between types of batteries (like lithium ion, lead acid, etc.), and then tells you the best way to recondition each type of battery. It also comes with an extra report that tells you how to start your own business reconditioning other people’s batteries to make extra money, which I thought was a pretty cool concept. I don’t enjoy fixing things enough to do it all the time, but someone who is handy might do pretty well with something like that.

You’re going to get the most out of this report if you want to recondition large, lead acid batteries that seem like they are done for. Batteries like my gate battery, or a car battery, golf cart battery, or even forklift batteries.

You will require some special equipment, like a multimeter that will help you see the details about your battery before you try to do anything with it. None of the equipment is very expensive, especially if you compare to the cost of a new battery. You wouldn’t have to recondition very many batteries to get your money back. The report goes into detail about which equipment they recommend, and even has some links to sources for getting the equipment online. Although you can easily find it all at someplace like RadioShack.

The report also describes a cool battery tool that you can hook up to your computer with USB and see all the details about your battery, which helps you do the calculations a lot easier when you’re reconditioning.

So should you buy it?

If you are interested in starting a business reconditioning a lot of batteries, then the report is worth the money. Or if you have larger, expensive batteries like marine batteries or car batteries that you need to recondition, then it’s also worth it.

For small NiMH batteries or for rechargeable AA batteries and things like that, I don’t think you’ll necessarily get your money’s worth. The report does feature a money back guarantee though, so you could always buy it and see for yourself if you’re on the fence.

One again, here’s the link to the battery reconditioning site.