Accessories for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch abound, but most give little regard to manufacturing processes, materials used in production, and the motivation behind the making the product in the first place. There are a lot of amazing, socially responsible (and very profitable) companies creating practical accessories to dress up your gadgets. Below you'll find some of the most creative, innovative, and practical solutions to fit your device. The best part—they are all manufactured sustainably, or help you keep a smaller ecological footprint.
Handcrafted Bamboo Case for iPad 2
This handcrafted bamboo case for the iPad 2 is not only durable and attractive, it has a lot of personality. Each case arrives wrapped in a burlap bag, and it includes an individualized, hand-numbered, certificate welcoming you to the Blackbox case family. Felt lining inside the bamboo cushions the iPad, and the leather strap holds it in with a metal snap. The leather strap also has the individualized number engraved. The back of the case has two small rubber nubs that work with the leather strap to keep the case from sliding on smooth surfaces.
Your iPad 2, with or without a Smart Cover, fits in the case. The case comes in two types of finishes: natural bamboo and carbonized brown bamboo. It weighs just over 12 ounces, and it is roughly 3/4 of an inch thick. Blackbox donates 15 percent all sales to various charities.
Laser-Etched iPad Bamboo Skins
$19 plain skin, $39+ predesigned or personalized engraving, grovemade.com
These bamboo skins come to us from the Portland-based team at Grove. The skins add an elegant and stylish look to your iPad, but not a huge amount of protection. You can get a plain skin for just $19, choose a pre-made design for $39, or get your own individualized design for $49. Grove takes prides in their company culture of authenticity and transparency, and they actively take a stand against third-world sweatshop labor. Everything they make is designed and manufactured in Portland, Oregon. They also have a line of laser-etched bamboo and leather cases for the iPhone and iPad.
Kork iPad Case
The eco-friendly Kork iPad case is made from 100 percent recycled cork and has a sculpted design that holds the iPad firmly in place. It doesn't offer much in the way of screen protection, but it is confortable to hold and feels very durable. The cork is lightweight and has openings for all the ports and buttons, including a slanted opening for the speakers that directs the sound straight to you. The case works better as a basic protector rather than a case to travel with. The makers of Kork didn't yet have a version for the iPad 2, but one should be available by the time this issue prints.
Vegan-Friendly iPad Purse
Reveal's feminine iPad bag consists of luxury-grade vegan leather, recycled zippers, and lining made from recycled microsuede certified by Scientific Certification Systems. It includes an elegant gold-plated chain strap, and like Plaid Doctrine's sleeve, it also has fabric derived from recycled plastic bottles… in this case, the fabric is satin. The bag fits both the iPad 1 and 2, and the pockets have been specifically fitted for iPad wire adapters. The interior has soft memory foam padding and plush.
Upcycled Wetsuit iPad Sleeve
If you're looking for water protection that is also sustainable, you can't go wrong with an iPad sleeve upcycled from scrap wetsuit material. The cushy nylon neoprene protects the iPad from bumps and scratches, and still lets you keep a slim outline. The sleeve also has a small zippered pocket that can hold small items like loose coins or business cards. To wash it, you can simply throw it in the washing machine. The goal of upcycling is to prevent the waste of unused materials during the manufacturing process, thus reducing the need for new raw materials. Looptworks, the company behind this iPad sleeve and other lines of clothing gear, upcycles excess scraps in 100 percent of their products.
Plaid Doctrine: Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles
These cool iPad sleeves are manufactured by Plaid Doctrine and are covered in water and stain-resistant high-performance fabric derived from recycled plastic bottles. They are ultra-lightweight, and fit both the iPad 1 and 2 with or without the Smart Cover. The sleeves feature two large front pockets that can hold your headphones, charger, and phone. The sleeve is fully lined in recycled, rip-stop nylon, and the inside is foam-padded for additional protection.
Sleeves Made from Recycled Truck Tarps
The F23 iPad Sleeve, brought to you by the Swiss company Freitag, is made from recycled truck tarps that have been used on the road. They are tough, rugged, and really cool to look at. Inspired by parachutists, the sleeve has a "quick-out" strap for high-speed iPad access. The sleeve is strong enough to protect your iPad from bruises and scratches, and the inside has velvety lining that helps clear smudges and fingerprints of your iPad 1. They don't yet have a size specifically for the iPad 2. However, the company also makes iPhone 4 sleeves and other bags and gear from the same material.
iPhone and iPad Cases Made from Vintage Fabric
iPhone cases, $35-$45; iPad cases, $45- $95, blytheking.com
The designer, Blythe King creates these one-of-a-kind cases for both the iPhone and the iPad. They are made from recycled and repurposed vintage materials from various dressmakers' estates throughout Louisiana and Virginia. Blythe King even keeps the buttons and pockets to create cozy and comfortable clothing pieces for each device. She designs, cuts, packs, and ships every case herself, and besides the inner padding, no new materials are used in the process.
Finderskeeper's iPad Sleeve
Starting at $55, etsy.com/people/findersandkeepersnet
Along the same lines as Blythe King, these witty iPad sleeves are stylish and unique, and are made from recycled clothing material. Machine-washable and drier friendly, these outfits have been custom tailored to fit your iPad, and lined with breathable, soft organic cotton to protect it from bumps and scratches.
ColcaSac has a line of sustainable cases made from various organic materials from around the world. Their cases and sleeves fit both the iPad 1 and 2, and they all feature an additional pocket for the power adapter. They are very confortable to hold, and their look and texture has a high-quality feel to it. All ColcaSac sleeves are made from hemp or organic cotton, and assembled by hand in Salt Lake City, UT.
Origami iPhone case
$1.95/month for access to instructions, instructables.com (search for "iPhone paper origami")
If you're looking into making your own iPhone cases, check out Mehl Bernhard's origami iPhone case at instructables.com. Bernhard originally created this case because he was carrying a to-do list on paper and didn't have time to enter it into his iPod touch. It may not offer a lot of protection from bumps and scratches, but it's sure to be a talking piece everywhere you go. Full step-by-step instructions are available for download as a PDF file through the Instructables.com website. To download you will need a membership, which costs roughly $1.95 per month, or $39.95 for a 2-year membership. A membership allows you access to all of their exclusive content, which includes user-submitted instructions on how to do build just about anything.
Spark Tablet Case
This solar-powered iPad case holds 8 watts of power; enough for one full charge if under direct sunlight for nine to ten hours. It can also charge most other tablets and phones via USB port. The solar panel borders come in silver, charcoal, or orange. The panels are lightweight, waterproof, and built to withstand damage. The padded sleeve part of the case fits an iPad or any other tablet. The bag is made from recycled PET, and it's also waterproof, lightweight, and UV resistant. Including the battery and solar panels, this case weighs about two pounds
LilyPad: the Solar-Powered iPad Case
The LilyPad continually charges the iPad by converting indoor and outdoor light into usable energy. The case uses new solar ink technology, which basically makes the case work as a liquid solar panel. If you're an average user, defined as someone who uses the iPad for two hours per day with roughly 14 hours of indoor light, the LilyPad can keep your iPad charged for up to 13 days. Even in low-light settings, the LilyPad will work to keep trickling energy to your iPad. In addition to working as a regular stand and protective case, the LilyPad boasts several other features that make it incredibly attractive:
- There's an HDMI adapter already built-in, which makes it easy to connect to a TV or projector,
- an additional battery backup holds roughly 24 hours of energy to keep your iPad charged even when there's no light source,
- a USB port to charge other gadgets,
- a whistle locator beeps back at you when you can't find the case, and
- a travel bag with a hole for the solar panel is included.
The LilyPad will be available to the public soon, and should retail in the $175 to $200 range. The company behind LilyPad has made a pledge to plant one tree for every LilyPad sold. They call it the "Buy one, get one tree!" deal.
Neon green: Solar powered travel bags
Neon Green brings us these cool solar power bags that you can use to charge all your gadgets including the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. The bags have a flexible thin-film solar cell and rechargeable power bank. The solar panel part has individual pockets and can detach from the rest of the backpack to become its own shoulder bag. The light-sensitive material used by Neon Green collects energy up to 70 degrees off axis outdoors and indoors. Charging happens via USB ports.
Make our time here count
Get stylish protection for your iPad and iPhone with these green accessories and help do your part in promoting social responsible and environmentally conscious businesses. Sustainability is ultimately about people and our ability to keep living on this earth. The planet will be fine with or without us, so let's make our time here count.