Part 2 of my “12 Things That Would Be Really Cool To Have For Christmas” list relates to items found on the Inhabitat Green Gift Buyers guide.
First, the Macally ECOFAN Bamboo Laptop Stand with Fan from Amazon.com ($36.69).
I’m on my laptop a good portion of every day and yes, it does get hot, even with the Lap Desk I currently use. Not only is the bamboo laptop stand stylish, but it has a built in fan to keep my laptop cool.
Strangely the Pro version, which features three height adjustable levels, is actually cheaper. But I still haven’t found one I can comfortably put on my lap (my preferred modus operandi).
Keeping in the sustainable and stylish spirit of bamboo, next is the VerseAudio iPhone Bamboo Hard Case.
$39.99 from Vers Audio. It’s beautiful, practical, sustainable, and not too expensive. Except that I’d also have to get an iPhone for x-mas (hint hint). Excellent dual gift, imo.
Finally, if I do get said iPhone for x-mas, well then it would only make sense to get the first Apple-licensed iPhone solar charger to go along with it.
The Surge for iPhone, $70 from SolarArcadia. Two hours of direct solar exposure provides 30 minutes of talk time on a 3G network, or 60 minutes of talk time on a 2G network.
It also includes a USB port so you can charge or sync with your computer without taking it out of the case.
My preferred color is green, btw.
I’ve heard that the air inside our homes can be up to 5 to 10 times more noxious than the air on your average street corner. This would be due to the plethora of chemicals used in common household items (from your carpet to your cleaning products). I’ve not done any real research on this myself but what I do know is that when I have a few healthy house plants around my apartment just feels nicer and I seem to get more work done (more oxygen to the brain maybe??? Dunno).
Well some smart guys at le olde Harvard University named Mathieu Lehanneur and David Edwards have designed a new air purifier that harnesses the natural processes of plants to make your air more, well, pure.
It’s called the ANDREA. It houses an actual plant of your choosing and uses the plants natural processes to clean the surrounding air. Air comes through the vents in the top and is funneled through the leaves and roots of the plant. Particles are absorbed and converted and the clean oxygen is fanned out the vent in the back. Simple, yes?
Also, it looks cool. Like something that belongs on a space station.
What I’m not so clear on is how exactly this is better than just having some house plants. Especially at the $200 price tag. I mean, I got my house plants for free from a neighbor that was moving out and didn’t want to take his ficus along.
Also, it seems like it would attract a lot of dust. So just another thing in the house that needs to be cleaned regularly.
So yes, this is pretty cool, but I probably won’t be investing in one.
Via Popular Science Gadgets
I came across these interesting little guys a few weeks ago. Solar powered water purifiers being used in Osaka Japan to keep the canals clean, as well as the moat around Osaka castle.
Trust me, they need it.
These Solar UFOs have been built by Tokyo-based engineering group NTT Facilities. They pump fresh oxygen into the water and spray clean water out of a nozzle at the top of the craft. They can purify 2400 gallons of water each day.
And at night they are lit up with LEDs. Some people may think they’re an eyesore, but they are way better than brown smelly polluted water.
One of the things we (consumers) take for granted is how much plastic we use. We all know plastic is made from oil (at least I hope we all know that). So I was curious to know what people were doing to figure out what to do when there is no more oil, or at least when it’s so scarce that making plastics out of it becomes no longer an option.
In an attempt to be green I’ve been trying to eliminate a lot of plastics. I don’t buy water in plastic bottles. I got a Klean Kanteen and fill it up from a filter. I use glass jugs and a metal ice cube tray. I have reusable grocery bags and don’t put produce in plastic bags. But this all adds up to a very minimal savings in plastic use. Realistically there is no way to get away from plastic in this day and age.
Inhabitat.com recently had a few pieces on new plastic technology that I hope will really take off.
First, plastic made from plant glucose. Scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have discovered a way to convert glucose from plant cellulose into something called HMF (5-hydroxymethylfurfural), a basic building block for fuel and other petroleum-based chemicals. And they’ve done it in a way that doesn’t create unwanted byproducts.
Next, scientists at Genomatica Inc have developed strains of bacteria that are able to produce plastic without the use of oil or natural gas. The process uses little more than sugar and water to produce butanediol (BDO), which can be manufactured into everything from plastics and fibers to pharmaceuticals. And the best part is that they estimate that the energy-efficient process will cost less than the current hydrocarbon process within a YEAR!
Finally, and this is a little different than the above since the following process is about recycling plastic, not making it (but I wanted to figure out how to get all the plastic articles into one post!)… A company in DC called Environ claims it can turn plastic into an oil-like fuel for just $10/barrel and it can be blended with other components and used as either gasoline or diesel. What’s significant about this is that the company has come up with a process that results in a net GAIN of energy (82% of all material that goes in is transformed into fuel). Previous attempts at turning plastic into fuel have resulted in a net loss of energy.
GadgetMETER is all about trends. Technological trends. Well everything right now is trending towards green. Energy, architecture, automobiles. My friends in architecture say everything is going green. There is no debate about it. The future is green.
And that is the message that the Frankfurt Auto Show is sending now too (not surprisingly the American presence at the show was minimal, sadly).
I’ll admit, I’m not super into cars. I don’t even own one (anymore). But I’m hyper-aware of the impact cars have directly and indirectly on my own life and everyone else’s life as well. So I was super excited to see such green innovation in the cars at the show.
Here are a few of my favorites:
Audi’s R8-based all-electric sports car boasts four electric motors — two on each axle — and a lithium-ion battery pack mounted behind the two-seat cabin for gravity and load distribution. It has an estimated combined-cycle driving range of 154 miles (248 km).
Currently just a concept but will hopefully be one of the ones that actually gets put into production.
The VW L1 turbodiesel hybrid claims 170 mpg or a 100 km on a little more than one liter (hence the name). It reportedly has rear-view TV cameras instead of mirrors, and a small 800cc engine that gets up to 99 mph (160 km/h) and 0-62 mph (100 km/h) in 14.3 seconds. It weighs only 840 lbs (380 kg) with a streamlined body that may offer the most aerodynamic and be the “most fuel-efficient automobile in the world.”
I love this one. I admit, I’m a V-dub fan.
And finally, the Roadster from Tesla. The first in production all electric sports car. I’ve fantasized about owning one of these since I heard about them a few years ago. This is the only all electric car at the show that is currently in production and it makes me break out in sweats every time I see it it’s so hot.
I’d be proud to own and drive any of these. Maybe, someday, I will.
Via Inhabitat and CNET
I’ve been caught out after dark on my bike with no safety lights more times than I care to admit. Sometimes I just forget to bring them, sometimes I’m out later than anticipated. But if I had a bike that glowed like the new Teague Pulse, well, it might not be such a big deal.
It even has left and right turn signals built into the handlebars.
The bike’s turn signal operates like a motorcycle’s, with a kill switch on the left handle, illuminating LED turn lights on both the handlebar ends, and a taillight mounted on the seat tube.
The only downside, for me at least, is that it’s a fixed gear bike. Can’t ride around South Austin’s hilly terrain with no gears. But if they could put the glowy frame on my Marin Hybrid, well, that would be, like, totally awesome.
So far I haven’t found out how the frame glows, but it does look like, for now anyway, that this is still a concept bike.
If they make it with gears then I’m totally in.
Via Popular Science
The flow kitchen is a concept designed to be a sustainable system where drying dishes helps water plants and composting food waste helps to fertilize them. It was designed by Oregon-based Studio Gorm, which has quite a few other interesting items I recommend checking out.
Drying dishes hanging from a vertical storage rack drip onto herbs and edible plants, which are grown in carefully positioned containers below. A double-walled terracotta container acts as a refrigerator, keeping the inside cool as water evaporates through the outer wall, while food scraps are broken down by worms in a composter and the resulting fertilizer is used in the herb boxes to grow more food.
This particular design may not be suitable for most indoor home kitchens, but it’s a good start. And it’s perfect for an outdoor kitchen, much like the one at Punta Mona, a sustainable living retreat I stayed at in Costa Rica several years ago.
Not too many people have outdoor kitchens though, so I can only hope that the Flow Kitchen is used as inspiration to create similar, more practical sustainable indoor flow kitchens that could realistically be built into just about any home.
I already know someone here in Austin who is using their kitchen runoff to water their outdoor garden. All you need to do is use biodegradable soaps and pipe the water where you want it to go (i.e. to the garden), and viola, no more wasting water and you have healthy green plants.