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We’ve ranted, raved, and reminisced on times when tech was cool-looking and not industrial. It was colorful, unique, and, in its best form, it was clear. Somewhere along the way, someone decided we were no longer deserving, and now we have boring-looking cell phones and headphones for true-crime podcast listening. We’re so desperate for personality, some people have taken to converting retro MacBooks into iPad cases … for $1,000. Would I sell a kidney for a chunky clear iPhone? Yes (someone forward this to Tim Cook). Will I pay a grand for a case? No. 

When an email came across my inbox from Skullcandy touting earbuds made to raise awareness about environmental impact, and those earbuds came in a “nostalgic clear color,” my eyes glazed over. Could it possibly mark the return of good, cool-looking tech?

The answer: kind of. The Jib True 2 Transparency Series buds are adorable in their blindingly bright green. I want to chew on them. And when I’m not debating putting them in my mouth, I’m pretty happy to put them in my ears. Besides a subpar microphone and the fact that I want a touch more visual clarity in their inner workings, these are solid earbuds.

In the Clear

Skullcandy Jib True 2 Transparency earbuds and case

Photograph: Skullcandy

As much as I love the way the Jib True 2 Transparency look, it does feel a bit like a swing-and-miss when compared to other clear plastic products I’ve loved. It feels like Skullcandy could have knocked the opacity down a few hundred notches, maybe even add colored wires like the world’s best landline phone. This limited-edition series (the standard True 2 buds are available long-term), also includes the Hesh Evo over ears, and while they are equally as adorable, they’re even less see-through.

While I think they could be more transparent physically, I do appreciate the idea behind this limited line: more transparency about the company’s impact on the environment. As long as people want things like phones, computers, and even headphones that are made from rare Earth materials and plastic, there’s going to be waste and an impact on an already struggling environment.

Skullcandy says it’s continuing to reduce its carbon footprint and has recycled nearly 650,000 headphones so far (saving around 544,000 pounds of landfill trash). If you return your old Skullcandy buds to the company, you’ll get a 30 percent discount for a new pair. All of the brand’s packaging is 100 percent recyclable, and the Jib True 2 contains a carbon emissions equivalent of 5.70 kilograms. Skullcandy purchases carbon offset credits to neutralize that. In addition, a portion of the profits from the Jib True 2 goes to Protect Our Winters, a nonprofit working to act against climate change.

Is this going to heal the world? No, of course not. But it’s time big brands own up and make some sort of commitment. You don’t see anything similar from any other major headphone brands.

Sounding Off

Skullcandy Jib True 2 Transparency earbuds

Photograph: Skullcandy

Looks and environmental efforts aside, the Jib True 2 buds sound good. I used to be a person who never used headphones that didn’t come in the box with her cell phone. Then last year I bought myself a pair of Beats Solo Pro (9/10, WIRED Recommends) and realized I was missing out a little bit.