A few years ago I watched the Ted Talks by Matt Cutts called “Try something new for 30 days”. It is a short light hearted talk worth viewing that that more or less states, if there is something you want to do or change, commit to doing it for 30 days. More recently, a relative kept his online status updated with his “30 days of biking” and that rekindled the idea for me.
For the month of June I have decided that the core gadgets I use on a daily basis can only be charged via solar power. Thanks to my lovely wife and kids, I already had everything I needed to undertake this effort, I just had not put it into practice consistently. My gadgets are my phone, my Microsoft band, and my Bluetooth speaker. My solution is an Anker portable fold up solar panel and an Anker battery power bank. After about 22 hours of direct sun, the battery will fully charge from the solar panel. Based on past use, I know that the Anker battery can charge my phone nine times before needing more power. Presumably adding in my other devices will increase the frequency of how often I need to charge the battery brick but I still only anticipate it being once a week or so. For charging the battery bank from solar, I have found that leaving the panel spread out on the dashboard of the car with the battery in the glove box works well while parked in a sunny location at work.
You might be questioning my logic as the ROI on a $100 worth of solar panel and battery bank that was gifted to me will take a long time to recognize, but for me it is not about that. For me, it is a small iterative step I can take that is positive. I am hopeful that after a successful 30 days, I can sustain this practice and add in another new 30 day challenge. Transitioning to this model also forces me to be more proactive and plan out my devices energy consumption and re-charging. As I hope our family will be transitioning to an electric vehicle in the coming year or two, having this type of planning mindset for energy consumption and charging will be very useful.
I also feel compelled to mention that I used charge my mobile phone every night and then about 6 months ago I changed a few key settings which dramatically increased the battery life of my phone. The single biggest change I made was reducing the frequency of which I sync my e-mail accounts. I used to have them sync ‘as items arrive’ and I changed this to ‘once per hour’. The majority of the time the content constantly syncing, re-organizing, and deleting on my phone was unnecessary as I was managing that content from my laptop while working anyway. As time passed, I also realized that my nose was not in my phone as often which I think is a good thing. I can always manually sync when I want to check e-mail, otherwise once per hour is plenty. I also no longer allow non-essential applications to run in the background. For example, if I look at Facebook on my phone I log out and close it when I am done. This is another thing that offers the healthy by-product of looking at my phone less. When I want to consume content on my phone I do, but now I avoid toast notifications and others various things that used to nudge me for their attention. I have also found that hooking up to my home wireless uses much less battery than cellular.
While solar powering accessories might not be for everyone and might not reduce emissions to a significant degree, I am excited to do it and already starting to brainstorm on my July plans. To you, I will quote Matt Cutts and say “Why not think about something you have always wanted to try and give it a shot for the next thirty days”.