In the face of our “e-waste crisis,” many technology companies are trying to create more sustainable products. Some, like Apple, offer free recycling programs. But even if our devices can be recycled, the materials going into most of our electronics (and their accessories) are not sustainably sourced.
Enter a new generation of en-TREE-preneurs — innovators using sustainably sourced wood to create everything from iPhone cases to wooden speaker systems. Here’s are three such companies that are making a splash this year:
Grovemade is a company that specializes in handcrafted wooden tech accessories for Apple devices. At the moment, they are crafting iPad cases, iPhone cases and docks, and leather notebook covers, but they are constantly innovating and plan to expand their product line in the coming months.
My Favorite Product: Walnut iPad Case
Their handcrafted iPad case is durable and great for traveling as it offers three versatile positions. It features “earth magnets” that align with the iPad’s magnets to put it to sleep and wake it up, depending on the usage. The cases are eco-friendly and made in the USA.
Oree is handcrafting wood smartphone accessories in France. Forbes contributor Jennifer Hicks wrote a piece about the company in May, but their stylish designs are worth mentioning again here. As they note on their website, “Orée is about reconciling tradition & novelty to create exceptional products through an exclusive combination of timeless craftsmanship and cutting-edge technologies.” To me they feel like modern-day Claus Oldenburg pieces, as they make you see new beauty in everyday objects.
My Favorite Product: Oree Board 2
This portable wireless keyboard is made from a single piece of maple, walnut, or wild cherry wood. You can customize the font and select from several languages/ layouts. The keyboard connects simultaneously with up to 5 devices including tablets, smartphones and PCs equipped with Bluetooth. This product offers remarkable flexibility combined with a truly attractive and smart tech solution!
Wood Restart is an eco-friendly workshop in Bulgaria that makes custom docks and other electronic accessories from naturally fallen forest wood. “The collection is characterized by its natural imperfections, as the natural forms of the wood are kept intact.”
My Favorite Product: Docking Station
This beautiful iPhone station is handmade from recycled elm wood and fits the iPhone 4, iPhone 5 and other phones of similar size. As these are custom made from fallen wood, each is completely unique. It’s a one-of-a-kind gift for your favorite eco-geek.
While some may argue that wood accessories are a form of token environmentalism, I would say they represent a growing consciousness among consumers that our electronic habits are not sustainable. While still being produced at an artisanal scale, I hope we will see a growing number of manufacturers following suit in both their aesthetics and their environmental stewardship.