wheelbarrow on walkway near garden with flowers and pumpkins

Summer Adventures, Part 3: Solar-Powered Essentials for Gardeners

Avid gardeners will tell you their hobby can be as great an adventure as gallivanting around the world. After all, when you can’t get away from it all, sometimes retreating to one’s own backyard oasis is the next best thing. Part 3 in our Solar Adventure Series is intended to inspire the gardeners among us, both with ideas for your own outdoor space and products designed to enhance the gardening experience.

How Does Your Garden Grow?

If you’ve ever grown and tended your own plants, you know that the process requires time, commitment and patience—in addition to the crucial elements of water, good soil, and sun. And, since the sun is the biggest factor in the quality of our blooms and success of our yield, it only makes sense that we could use the sun’s energy to generate power for other aspects of our gardens.

Green Products for Green Thumbs

Whether you’re tending produce or flowers, certain tools and conveniences can greatly enhance the pleasures of gardening—and we’ve got the goods! Check out these garden-friendly, solar-powered must-haves:

For aesthetic appeal, these fountains enhance any garden, whether you have water features or create your own.

Floating Solar Fountain on Lily Pad (G3039)
Floating Solar Fountain on Lily Pad (G3039)
Solar Floating Fountain (G3033) - birdbath not included
Solar Floating Fountain (G3033) – birdbath not included
Solar Water Fountain Kit (G3017)
Solar Water Fountain Kit (G3017) – container not included

Stay cool during the dog days of summer with these solar powered fan caps and accessories.

Solar Cooling Fan Cap (W4033)
Solar Cooling Fan Cap (W4033)
Solar LED Cap Light (L2028)
Solar LED Cap Light (L2028)

Solar Inspiration

For some inspiration to help transform your garden into a backyard oasis, visit our Gardens of Light board on Pinterest to see a few outdoors spaces as well as tips and tricks we love. We hope they’ll inspire you to create your very own solar-powered, backyard retreat.

Happy gardening!

People on Beach enjoying Sunset

Summer Adventures, Part 2: Eco-friendly Essentials for Seasoned Travelers

Jetsetters rejoice! Part 1 in our Solar Adventure Series featured eco-friendly products for outdoor explorers, but this week it’s all about you wanderlusts. In part 2, we have summer-friendly products to help you travel in style and with convenience—all while being kind to Mother Nature.

See the World; Love the Earth

Leaving on a jet plane doesn’t necessarily mean leaving behind modern conveniences. But neither should it mean excessive use of power, batteries, or expensive electronics. Whether your jaunt is by air, by train, or just means lounging by the pool, make sure you have clean, green power where and when you need it most.

3 Eco-friendly Must-Haves:

When traveling abroad, your devices may not always be compatible with the types of outlets available in  some countries. This international travel adapter (with USB Ports) has you covered.

International Travel Adapter with USB Ports (C5021)
International Travel Adapter with USB Ports (C5021)

One common frustration amongst frequent travelers of the lack of available power, especially when you’re out seeing the sights or away from developed areas. For these times, we recommend keeping a power bank handy. This one will fit just fine in your backpack or purse. C5014 Dual USB 7800 mAh Mobile Digital Power Bank

Mobile Digital Power Bank, Dual USB 7800mAh (C5014)
Mobile Digital Power Bank, Dual USB 7800mAh (C5014)

And for those who find the most enjoyment lounging on the beach or at the pool, these bluetooth speakers are perfect for bringing a little entertainment to your waterside cabana.

Bluetooth Rechargeable Stick-On, Splashproof Speakers (S8001, 2, 3, 4)
Bluetooth Rechargeable Stick-On, Splashproof Speakers (S8001, 2, 3, 4)

Visit our online store to find these travel-friendly products, and don’t forget to use promo code summer10 during checkout to receive 10% off your order.

Bon voyage!

Summer Adventures, Part 1: Solar-Powered Essentials for Outdoor Explorers

high mountains trees and reflection in water

Saturday’s Summer Solstice marked the official start to the new season. In the following weeks, we’ll be sharing helpful tips and must-have solar essentials for all your summer adventures, whether you are an outdoor explorer, avid gardener, or seasoned traveler.  However you’ll be spending the long, warm days ahead, we’ve got the goods.

The Great Outdoors: Solar Explorers

From pitching a tent to casting a line, many summer adventures will have you in the belly of Mother Nature, oftentimes away from creature comforts such as running water and electricity. While part of the pleasure of getting away is disconnecting from the digital world and other modern conveniences, it’s a good idea to be able to access emergency services, should the need arise.

For starters, these portable, functional products harness the sun’s energy to provide comfort and peace of mind when in the great outdoors. Just enter promo code summer10 during checkout to receive ten percent (10%) off your order!

5 Solar-Powered Must-Haves:

There’s no need for lights out at your camp out: these solar-powered flashlights are designed to last.

L2026-W4010
Solar/ Handcrank Waterproof LED Flashlight (L2026), and Solar/ Handcrank LED Flashlight Keychain (W4010)

If you’re packing light, this 4-in-1 flashlight, radio, alarm, and charger has it all.

4-in-1 Flashlight Radio Alarm Charger (R1006)
4-in-1 Flashlight, Radio, Alarm, Charger (R1006)

When venturing into remote wilderness areas, it’s not just your legs that should remain fully charged—your mobile phone should have some juice, especially in case of emergencies. When on the go, whether hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, or fishing, this portable solar charger is a great way to ensure the energy stores on your digital devices remain full (just be sure to keep yourself hydrated, too!). It comes with a 2000 mAh external battery, and can be used for mobile phones and small 5 volt digital devices. Comes in three colors: black, orange, and camouflage.

4W Solar Charger with 2000 mAh External Battery for Mobile Phones and Small 5V Digital Devices. Comes in 3 colors: black (C5018), orange (C5019), and camouflage (C5020).
4W Solar Charger with 2000 mAh External Battery for Mobile Phones and Small 5V Digital Devices. Comes in 3 colors: black (C5018), orange (C5019), and camouflage (C5020).

And just for fun, who can resist the ultra compact radio cube? It’s perfect for lakeside lounging.

AM/FM/WB dynamo crank radio cube
Solar/ Handcrank AM/FM Radio Cube (R1007)

So what are you waiting for? Gather your gear, pick up a few extra gadgets you may be lacking, and head for the hills. To send you on your way safely, here are some additional outdoor safety tips, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Get vaccinated.
  • Prepare healthy and safe food.
  • Include safe physical activities.
  • Protect against carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Avoid wild animals, and protect family pets.
  • Fight the bug bit.
  • Prevent temperature related illness.
  • Protect yourself from the sun.
  • Avoid water-related illness and injury.
  • Be prepared.

Find more details about camping health and safety from the CDC, as well as a packing checklist here.

Rafea: Solar Mama—New Film Inspires

“Rafea is a Bedouin living on the Jordan-Iraq border. She and 30 illiterate grandmothers from around the world will travel to The Barefoot College in India to become solar engineers. If she succeeds, she will power her entire village, but can she rewire the traditional minds of her Bedouin community?”

That’s the question posed by the new documentary, Rafea: Solar Mama. Programs like those provided by The Barefoot College have helped bring about technological and cultural progress in rural areas of the world, progress that starts small but has the power to bring about big changes.

“If a woman with a few years of schooling who has never left her village is able to learn solar engineering in a matter of months, what is impossible in the world?” asks the film’s director, Jahane Noujaim. “We do not believe that a film alone can change societies and cultural taboos… but the people that watch them can.”

That’s the kind of vision that inspires us at Solarrific. To put it simply, it’s why we do what we do. Take a moment to view the documentary’s trailer below and learn why people all over the world are being inspired by Rafea’s story.

Rafea: Solar Mama - watch the trailer here
Rafea: Solar Mama – watch the trailer here

Rafea has gone on to solar electrify 80 homes in her village in Jordan, and now dreams to create a solar engineering training center for women in Jordan. To learn more about how you can support sustainable development in impoverished parts of the world, visit The Barefoot College’s website.

5 Mother’s Day Solar Gift Ideas

Give Mom her place in the sun this Mother’s Day with a solar-powered gift she won’t soon forget.

If your mom is a gardener, we have a number of products that will help transform her outdoor space into her own private oasis. And best of all, for Mother’s Day we’re offering ten percent off of the following items on our Amazon store.

The solar water fountain kit, which contains three design pattern attachments, makes any small container into your very own water fountain. This kit is the perfect way to create a relaxing outdoor environment, either on your patio or in the garden.

Solar Water Fountain Kit
Solar Water Fountain Kit

This floating solar fountain on a lily pad adds natural beauty to any pond, pool, or large water container. Minimal maintenance is required.

Floating Solar Fountain on Lily Pad
Floating Solar Fountain on Lily Pad
This lovely solar-powered, lily pad and flower light display is a great way to decorate a pond, both during the day, and at night, when the stored solar energy powers the LEDs to the lights.
Floating Solar LED Lily Flowers
Floating Solar LED Lily Flowers
For gadget loving moms, the solar/handcrank AM/FM radio cube is compact, easy to use, and makes a great portable gift.
AM/FM/WB dynamo crank radio cube
Solar/Handcrank AM/FM Radio Cube
And don’t forget about our solar/handcrank flashlight keychain! This is a great safety tool and it’s compact, lightweight, and portable, too.
Solarrific solar dynamo keychain flashlight
Solar/Handcrank Keychain Flashlight

 

 

Full Speed Ahead! Mass Transit Trumps Traditional Transportation

Photo credit: amoytrip.com
Photo credit: amoytrip.com

It’s been nearly a month since the world’s newest high-speed rail line entered into operation.

China’s Xiamen-Shenzhen Railway (which tops out at 250 kilometers per hour and has reduced travel time between two important cities by more than half) is one of technology’s modern marvels.

But it’s certainly not the first—or the only one—of its kind.

The world’s first bullet train, or “shinkansen,” debuted in Japan for the1964 Tokyo Olympics. It saw immediate success, preliminary numbers reflected 100 million passengers served in less than three years. It has now transported over seven billion people.

Other nations, seeing the viability of this alternate form of transportation, followed suit. From 1967 to 1992, such European countries as France, England, and Germany introduced high-speed lines of their own. Then, in 2003, China opened a 200 kph line, and in 2007, a modern, high speed line. The country’s railway network now spans over 100,000 km, including 10,000 km of high speed lines.

What is considered “high-speed” now varies amongst countries, but this type of transport operates much faster than typical rail traffic, usually around 150 to 200 miles per hour.

Fast can also mean efficient. In many cases, solar panels are used to generate electricity to supply power to trains, tunnels, and stations—making an already economical means of transportation even more productive. (For obvious reasons, we find this particularly exciting.) And, as transportation, energy, and pollution crises affect the globe, it makes sense to think smarter about the generation of power, rather than depending so heavily on fossil fuels.

When it comes to transportation, there are additional ways to conserve energy, even if such a luxury as a high-speed rail isn’t available.

For one, consider going car-free. The availability of public transit has made this more feasible than ever before. By using buses, trains, and subways, you help decrease pollution, congestion, and can even save yourself time, in certain cases. Better yet, buy a commuter bicycle and pedal to and from work each day.

If you absolutely must keep your car, here are some ways to decrease its negative impact on the environment:

  • Consolidate trips
  • Carpool whenever possible
  • Avoid idling
  • Stay up to date on oil changes and emissions testings

We want to know: When it comes to transportation, how do YOU reduce your environmental impact? Tell us in the comments below, or like us on Facebook and share there!

For an Environmental Health Check, Look to the Skies

sunset midway postExamining the condition of our oceans and skies often gives us an idea of how we are faring when it comes to protecting our earth.

The health of these ecosystems indicates whether or not we are hurting or helping our environment.

And these days, it’s not looking good.

Recently, Solarrific founder Grace King discovered a Canadian goose on her property near the East River that seemed to be lingering near her home. King assumed the large bird was just hungry, but when she found it, lifeless, on her porch the next day, she realized that the bird had died in need of help. Upon closer inspection, the goose was entangled in a fisherman’s line and the hook was embedded in its ribcage.

While an isolated case, and while the Canadian goose is nowhere near the threat of extinction, this made us think more about the bigger picture. And it made us wonder, just how many situations just like this one arise due to humans’ carelessness, without us even knowing?

We recently discovered a documentary that sheds light on that very issue, a little-known problem that is affecting a number of birds. The film, titled Midway, is to be released in 2014. Click below to have a look at the trailer. We dare you not to wipe your eyes.

Midway snap

If you’re like us, watching that video is a sobering reminder that we as humans need to be more aware of our environmental impact. Mindfulness doesn’t just help protect our earth and its resources, but it preserves the health and the lives of the other creatures that live here.

This kind of awareness should extend to even daily decisions that may seem minor, like whether or not to recycle a small piece of plastic, throw it in the trash, or chuck it out the car window. It involves having an acute awareness of our environmental footprint. In other words, we should be asking ourselves the following question: How does my daily existence affect the environment and the lives it sustains?

Pursuing an environmentally mindful lifestyle starts with a few small adjustments, but these changes can make a very big impact. Here are a few questions for self-examination.

  • Do I use products powered by alternative energy (solar-powered, hand-crank, etc.), rather than devices that require an endless supply of batteries to continue functioning?
  • Do I recycle and/or compost waste?
  • How diligent am I about conserving natural resources (water, etc.) in my home? Do I wait for a full load of laundry or dishes before running the washer or dishwasher (respectively)?
  • Do I refrain from littering, even when properly disposing of trash is inconvenient?
  • When away from population centers and in the great outdoors, do I leave my environment in a better condition that I found it?

As you probably know, Solarrific provides consumers with green-power alternatives (solar and hand-cranking) to commonly used devices such as flashlights and phone chargers. Awareness of our impact on the environment drives everything we do, from how our products are manufactured to their final application.

Therefore, we invite you, too, to make mindful decisions when purchasing and using consumer products, as well as when engaging with our natural world. This way, we can help preserve our earth and all its creatures for future generations.

Why This is the Year to Go Solar—14 Quotes to Inspire Green Living in 2014

Every year, right around January 1st, millions all over the world resolve to eat better, exercise more, or otherwise make more mindful decisions related to personal health and well being.

But what about making other changes—changes that impact our planet as a whole? In fact, why not make 2014 the year you embrace solar technology?

sun-quoteRest assured, that doesn’t necessarily mean a complete overhaul of your home’s heating and electrical system (although there is a wealth of information online to help you make such a transition if you’re so inclined!). Sometimes making significant lifestyle changes begins with taking baby steps.

Here are some affordable things you can do to get started:

  • Contact your representatives to let them know where you stand on the use of fossil fuels versus alternative energies. It doesn’t hurt to call your power company, too, and ask them to support these latter forms of energy, such as solar, wind, and geothermal.
  • Opt for solar-powered devices, such as chargers, flashlights, and radios (peruse our online catalog to learn more about how these products work).
  • Use passive solar heating by opening curtains/blinds on the south and west facing sides of your house and removing solar shade screens.
  • To save energy (and coin), use solar-powered outdoor lights, especially during the darkest months of the year.

Believe it or not, making even small adjustments can make a big difference! Here are just some of the ways going solar (particularly by using solar-powered devices) makes sense:

  • Conserve energy, save money (the money you’ll save on batteries alone is ample reason).
  • Set an example for your children when it comes to mindful energy use.
  • Solar gadgets are convenient, efficient, and they look cool, too.

Still need a little inspiration? Here are 14 quotes from top thinkers that we hope will motivate you to think solar for the New Year!

“The sun is the only safe nuclear reactor, situated as it is some ninety-three million miles away.” –Stephanie Mills

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.” –Mahatma Gandhi

“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.” –Theodore Roosevelt

“There is a great need for the introduction of new values in our society, where bigger is not necessarily better, where slower can be faster, and where less can be more.” –Gaylord Nelson

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtfully committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” –Margaret Mead

“We have lived our lives by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. We have been wrong. We must change our lives so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption, that what is good for the world will be good for us. And that requires that we make the effort to know the world and learn what is good for it.” –Wendell Berry

“Perhaps the time has come to cease calling it the ‘environmentalist’ view, as though it were a lobbying effort outside the mainstream of human activity, and to start calling it the real-world view.” –Edward O. Wilson

“Only within the moment of time represented by the present century has one species—man—acquired significant power to alter the nature of the world.” –Rachel Carson

“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” –Archbishop Desmond Tutu

“The next step in man’s evolution will be the survival of the wisest.” –Deepak Chopra

“Anything else you’re interested in is not going to happen if you can’t breath the air and drink the water. Don’t sit this one out. Do something.” –Carl Sagan

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it.” –Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“We don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” –Moses Henry Cass

“The earth will not continue to offer its harvest, except with faithful stewardship. We cannot say we love the land and then take steps to destroy it for use by future generations.” –Pope John Paul II

We’d love to know what resolutions you’ve made this year. Tell us in the comments below!

 

Solar-Powered Philanthropy: 10 Ways the Sun Keeps Giving

sun-in-handsOne of the year’s most significant holidays is officially behind us. Presents have been opened, feasts have been consumed, and family members are making their way to their respective homes. But while you’re taking down decorations and depositing gift wrapping in the trash, remember that, just because one of the country’s biggest days of gift-giving has passed, there is still plenty of room for generosity.

For one thing, when it comes to solar technology, many organizations’ philanthropic efforts have led to substantial improvements in living conditions and a better quality of life for individuals in less developed nations. Here is a round-up of some notable solar projects that are taking place around the world:

Oftentimes, helping those in need starts right in our own communities, but it’s inspiring to see how solar technology is making a greater impact worldwide—and changing people’s lives in rural communities abroad.

Light the Night this Holiday Season: Win A Set of Solar Festive Lights from Solarrific

holiday lightsWhether you celebrate the festival of lights, Christmas, or any other customs this time of year, one thing is for sure:

The holiday season is upon us!

To celebrate, we’re giving away a set of 100-LED white festive solar lights—and the drawing happens in just a few days! Entering is easy: All you have to do is visit our contest page, make sure you’re a fan of Solarrific on Facebook, then enter your email address for a chance to win.

Happy holidays from all of us at Solarrific!

UPDATE 12/23/13: Congratulations to Christi Andrews, the winner of our giveaway! Stay tuned to our Facebook page for future giveaways.