Commuting to work can be a miserable experience. Bus and train riders deal with delays, crowding and bizarre passengers. Drivers deal with gas prices and infuriating traffic.
Just because commuting is painful doesn’t mean the environment also has to suffer. There are little ways that mass transit commuters can make the trip to work even more green. Here are five ideas:
• Use rechargeable batteries in mp3 or CD players. Batteries contain metals and acids that are bad for the environment, especially if seeped into the water supply. Reusing batteries keeps them out of the landfill. The 15 Minute Charger from Duracell can recharge any combination of AA/AAA batteries in just minutes. It is ideal for digital cameras and other high-drain devices. A LED light indicates charging status and the device is a compact 5 x 4 x 9 inches. $34.99 at DuracellDirect.com
• Cut the electricity. Many commuters love listening to music on the commute but hate wearing ear buds for too long. A solar powered desk player can keep the music but not the electricity flowing at the office. Active Trax Audio Player is an mp3 amplifier and FM radio that uses solar, hand (via the handle) or AC power. It has a 3.5 mm audio jack which can be used to connect an mp3 player. This small player comes with a molded carrying case and line-in cord. A single charge lasts for seven hours. $39.95 at LLBean.com or call 1-800-809-7057.
• Recharge with solar power. Many public transportation commuters spend the ride fiddling with a Blackberry or cell phone. Recharge gadgets with The Solar Roll 4.5. This solar panel mat unrolls and absorbs rays. A plug then connects the roll to gadgets. The Solar Roll 4.5 is 12 x 22 inches when open and weighs 6.4 ounces. $295 at Brunton.com
• Tote along a power source. Not all solar chargers are stationary. The Voltaic solar messenger bag is embedded with solar panels that are lightweight and waterproof. Just one hour of sunlight gives the bag enough energy to power a cell phone for 1.5 hours or an iPod for three hours. The bags include standard adaptors for common cell phones and other devices. The messenger bag is padded and can hold a laptop. $229 at Voltaicsystems.com
• Track fuel consumption. Many drivers would love a hybrid but don’t have the funds to splurge on a new car. There is another way to be an eco-friendly driver. The Kiwi MPG is a plug and play device that installs quickly and can be mounted on the dashboard. It is designed to give information about fuel efficiency and works with cars manufactured after 1996. It instantly calculates miles per gallon and also averages trip MPG and trip dollars consumed. It can also indicate remaining fuel, distance to empty, engine RPM, vehicle speed, coolant temp and throttle position. $89.99 at PlxKiwi.com