These days it seems companies producing electronic gadgets will go well out of their way to include "sustainable" features in their products, even if they serve no apparent purpose. The latest example of this is the Samsung U.Season Slider USB Flash Drive (pictured above), with a solar powered LCD screen which displays available storage capacity.
We at TreeHugger are all for green technologies, especially when they are cool, sustainable and really clever, like this gravity powered lamp. However, despite our support for utilizing "green" technologies in any form and for any purpose, at some point we have to ask ourselves: "is this really sustainable, or even necessary?" In this case, its pretty obvious that the reason for using solar power is neither green, nor even greenwash, but simply an attempt to make a cooler gadget. After all, there's nothing cooler right now than green gadgets. However, would it not be better from a sustainability perspective to simply leave out the LCD display, especially considering that a Flash Drive's storage capacity is generally displayed on the computer's screen anyway?
Solar panels, even tiny ones, are still the product of industrial processes, with all of the resource and energy use and waste and health issues that go along with that. Therefore, we should be more cautious about tacking on unnecessary uses to gizmos just to give them a green aura. On the other hand, solar is still a developing industry, which could use all the help it can get, and solar powered gizmos can definitely create a solid market for the industry's products.
Food for thought... We would love to hear our readers' opinions about this one.