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Christmas 2021 gift guide: Here are some ideas for tech presents that support the circular economy

Tech Christmas gifts don't have to be harmful to the environment.
Tech Christmas gifts don't have to be harmful to the environment.   -   Copyright  Canva
By Luke Hurst

A circular economy has become a key facet of the fight for a more sustainable future. In fashion, for example, there is still a huge amount of waste because the life-cycle of clothing is largely linear. Resources are used to create clothes, the clothes are sold, and once the consumer is done with them, they often end up in a rubbish dump.

The idea of a circular economy is to keep resources in the economy for as long as possible. So when a product is produced, it is not just thrown away after its first intended use comes to an end. It could be refurbished, recycled, repurposed, taken apart so its parts can be used in new products.

The European Union has a circular economy action plan, which it says will reduce pressure on natural resources, create sustainable growth and jobs, reduce waste, and help us move towards a more sustainable and environmentally friendly future.

In technology, finding ways to adopt principles of a circular economy are high on the priority list for companies and governments.

With Christmas fast approaching, here are some tech gift ideas that feed into the circular economy.

Refurbished tech

Jenny Kane/AP
Refurbished tech is better for the environment and cheaperJenny Kane/AP

Demand for consumer electronics is driving environmental degradation around the world. The more laptops and phones consumers want, the more mining for materials used in their production has to take place.

And with many products manufactured with planned obsolescence, the world is dealing with an ever-growing mountain of discarded tech junk.

Luckily the industry for re-selling refurbished tech is burgeoning, with a wealth of options to choose from.

Buying refurbished tech means reusing all or most of the materials used to manufacture the product in the first place, and you can make solid savings on what you would have paid for a new product.

If you want to buy your loved ones some tech this Christmas, refurbished is the greener - and cheaper - option.

Bicycle repair classes

Nicolas Garriaga/AP
Learning to repair your own bike could save you from buying a new one so soonNicolas Garriaga/AP

On the topic of refurbed tech, one way to take part in the circular economy directly is by learning how to fix stuff yourself.

Is there a keen cyclist in your life? If they knew how to repair their trusty bike themselves, it could increase the bike’s lifespan, saving them from replacing parts or even the whole bike.

So instead of buying them a bicycle, perhaps consider getting them some bicycle repair classes this Christmas?

Invest in some green crypto

Jim Mone/AP
You can earn crypto by producing energy from the SunJim Mone/AP

The environmental news around cryptocurrencies tends to focus on their negative impact, with the huge amount of computing power needed to, for example, mine Bitcoin.

Some cryptos are however being developed to have a much smaller carbon footprint, making more transactions more efficient and scaled up, such as Cardano (ADA).

Others are explicitly claiming to make a positive impact on the environment, such as Solarcoin.

The idea behind the coin, launched in 2014, is to incentivise solar electricity production. Producers can register their solar installations, to make claims to SolarCoin for 1 coin per 1 MWh of verified electricity production.

The coins can be traded like other cryptocurrencies on exchanges. So, if you know a crypto fan who could use a greener coin in their portfolio this Christmas, SolarCoin is one of a number of options to invest in on their behalf.

Solar power banks

Michael Probst/AP
A solar power bank can be used to charge your electronics, without such a big impact on the environmentMichael Probst/AP

With all the electronics we rely on these days, portable power banks have become one of life’s necessities, especially when traveling.

While the traditional power bank needs to be charged via an electricity plug, using up energy that will often come from unsustainable sources, there is a greener option.

Solar power banks use the power of the sun to charge themselves, and then that solar power can be used to charge your electronics on the go.

Eco phone and laptop cases

Pixabay
Laptop and phone cases can be eco-friendlyPixabay

Laptops and mobile phones may not inherently be made of the most eco-friendly materials, but the cases used to carry and protect them can be.

Pelacase is one brand working in this area, with compostable phone cases made from plant-based biopolymer and flax shive. They also donate a percentage of each sale to ocean cleanup and other eco schemes.