Posts Tagged ‘Green Technology’

Solar bags by Noon Solar

August 24th, 2009 No comments

I almost hate to interrupt the steady stream of Google/AT&T/Apple related topics that have been dominating GadgetMeter these last few weeks (kudos to you, Quang Ly, for fighting the good fight!) but sometimes a break is a good thing.
I’m heading out of the realm of “Serious Corporate Land” into “Eco Friendly Accessories World”.
So, I’m the kind of person that rides my bike most places. I’m also the kind of person who is rarely without my phone and ipod (I’m too scared to take my laptop on my bike because I know the minute I do something bad will happen). Anyway, the other day I was busy texting while laying out by Barton Springs Pool and my phone battery died! If only I had one of THESE:

solar powered courier bag

I could have charged it up right then and there!
These new bags by Noon Solar integrate flexible solar panels into their design. They have several styles of both messenger bags and purses and they are made from either German leather or organic hemp or cotton.
The solar power is stored in a lithium-ion battery pack, weighing about 4oz, found inside the bag. Because the solar power is stored inside a battery pack, cell phones and iPods can be charged day or night.

From their website: Noon Solar bags are made from biodegradable materials so that the bags can skip the landfill and go directly into your backyard without hurting the earth. The bags are safe and non-toxic, and most of the materials will actually nourish the earth if buried. The other materials such as the solar panel and hardware can be removed and recycled or reused.
solar bag 2

And after reading their design philosophy I’m about ready to drop the several hundred dollars required to purchase one of their bags.
This is a company whose products AND philosophy I am ready to support. And that in and of itself is a rare thing these days.


August 5th, 2009 No comments

Last week I discovered while researching the floating apartment complex and it has quickly become one of my favorite sites. It indulges in two of the things I am most passionate about: sustainable living and innovative design.
I want to share three of my favorite things that I have so far discovered and that are accessible to the average consumer, not just a mere curiosity or cool concept.

The first are the stackable fridge units. They remind me a bit of my Tetris playing youth.
Lego fridge

There are a number of reasons why these are awesome.
First, you can buy just the space you need. Perfect for college dorms or single people living in efficiencies (Japan, I’m looking at you… mostly).
Second, If you have roommates you can separate your stuff more easily and hopefully avoid the inevitable who-ate-what arguments.
Third, these fridges also conserve energy. Instead of opening one giant fridge and letting all the cold air out, you only open one section, letting a little cold air out at a time.
Finally, each unit can be set to it’s own temperature. So chill your wine in one fridge and keep your fruits and veggies in another fridge that maybe isn’t quite so cold. The back of my current fridge gets so cold that if I’m not paying attention, the 4 eggs in the back of the package will freeze. Ever try scrambling frozen eggs? The texture isn’t quite there, you know?


Next on my list are the cassette tape lamps.
cassette lamps 1
cassette lamps

I wish I had thought of this before I dumped all my cassette tapes (this was years ago before I was conscious enough to try and do something else with them).
These lamps are very cool and would be even cooler with my collection of New Wave and Punk Rock tapes. Sadly those tapes are gone but I can still order one made with someone else’s recycled tapes. But if YOU have any tapes you can send them in and have a lamp made just for you! The light patterns on the walls are particularly gorgeous, especially when there is a stack of them.

living chair
Last but not least are the pieces of living furniture. There are several designs, some for indoor, some for outdoor.

This particular one doesn’t seem super comfy, but it certainly looks cool.

However, my favorite is the lawn chair.
Picture 5
It’s a chair landscaped into your lawn. As soon as I get a lawn, I’m making one of these (or several, probably). I may even make a table to go with it, all overgrown with grass. Then I’ll invite over Alice and the Mad Hatter (aka: Johnny Depp) and we’ll have the trippiest tea party there ever was!


New solar roof tiles

July 21st, 2009 No comments

Living in Austin I tend to see more than your average amount of solar panels. Not only do we get a lot of sunshine here (and I mean A LOT), but people here are really into getting their energy in an ecologically friendly way. I know solar energy isn’t quite there yet (by “there” I mean “sustainable” and “affordable” to the average person), but I try to pay attention to the advances so one day, when I’ve finally achieved the “dream” of home ownership, I’ll have a good idea of how to make my own house close to the ideal zero carbon foot print.
And the other day I found this:

Picture 1

A company called SRS Energy has partnered with US Tile, a leading manufacturer of Spanish, slate and shake roof tiles, to design solar panels with the exact shapes of their clay counterparts.
The idea is that more people will likely integrate solar paneling into their roofs if it is more aesthetically appealing. Good idea. Solar panels are kinda fugly, not that it ever bothered ME any. I’m more of a “greater good” kinda person.
But builders and designers obviously take aesthetics into consideration (especially when people are spending the kind of money you would have to spend on a house like the one in this photo) and I think this is an excellent practical solution. And I have to say I think it looks pretty damn good. Hopefully we don’t all have to own million dollar homes in order to get solar tiles. But I guess they have to start somewhere.

The US Tile’s Solé Power Tile system will begin to be installed in homes this November by contractors that have taken the company’s Solé certification class.
The current incarnation of these tiles are said to be able to convert 8-10% of the sun’s energy into electricity. That’s a little behind the 20% that traditional solar panels are capable of, unfortunately, but a representative from SRS energy claims the overall efficiency of the system makes up for the difference. I hope that is true.

I yearn for the day that photovotaic cells can outproduce the amount of energy it takes to make and ship them, and do it at an affordable price in a reasonable amount of time. Hopefully this initiative will help achieve that goal. It’s definitely a step.


Solar camping!

July 20th, 2009 No comments

How often do you go camping just to find yourself messing with inadequate battery or gas powered lamps? Or the inability to charge your cell phone (I know I know, you camp to get AWAY from people, but sometimes you just need your phone)?
Well I found a few green (or semi-green at least) camping solutions while prowling the internet the other day… all of them having to do with solar powered tents!
First the Woods Solar Powered EZ-Tent:

Picture 1

The tent itself is OK (though materials still consist of PVC which is less than desirable when trying to go green). Essentially there is a solar panel that powers the set of internal integrated LED lights. The solar energy can also be used to charge batteries. It takes 4-6 hours of direct light (or 6-8 hours of indirect) to yield 2-4 hours tent light. The tent comes in 4 and 6 person versions and run $180 to $220 respectively.

Second is the much cooler Recharge Pod built by Orange in the UK and created for last years Glastonbury Music festival.

Picture 2

The tent has 500-watt solar panels and a 500-watt wind turbine to generate electricity so patrons can charge their phones while at the festival. Great idea, but would be cool to make a personal use production model.

Finally, the coolest of the three by far, and the one I’m just salivating to get my hands on even though it is still in concept mode…

Picture 3

Again created by Orange, this time in conjunction with Kaleidoscope, and unveiled at this years Glastonbury Music Festival, this solar tent not only looks comfortable and functional, it has really been taken to the next level. It uses the new flexible photovoltaics that have recently been developed and will be covered in semi-photovoltaic fabric woven with both coated solar threads and conventional threads to form a solar shell that could be adjusted to get the most sun throughout the day. The Solar enegery would be channeled into four main power uses: heating, lighting, communications and recharging.

One of the unique features includes a wireless charging pouch. Instead of plugging in, you would drop your phone or other portable device into a pouch inside the tent. A coil in the pouch would carry an electric current that generates a magnetic field to produce a charge which would then serve to power the device’s battery.

Some of the captured solar energy could also be channeled toward radiant floor heating as well. This is exciting news! I can’t tell you how many times I wake up freezing in the middle of the night while camping, no matter how good my sleeping bag is.

But the most innovative part is the “Glo-cation” technology. When you are trying to find your tent you can send an SMS message or use an RFID tag. Basically press a button and your tent lights up in response, like using your wireless remote to find your car in a parking lot by listening for the horn.

The concept tent also has the ability to broadcast a Wi-Fi signal, though whether or not it acts as a router or just a booster is unclear.
If this ever goes into production (and I hope it will) it will be on my must have list for Burning Man.

via CNET

The Tech Waste problem

May 28th, 2009 1 comment

I was recently unpacking my plethora of boxes that have been in storage for the last year. About four of them contained nothing but empty CD jewel cases. Since I have no idea where I can possibly store them these days I decided to do a bit of research to see how I could ecologically dispose of them. After all I don’t want 30 lbs of plastic ending up in the already massive Great Pacific Garbage Patch that has been developing in the pacific for the last several decades.

To my dismay I found no place locally that could (or would?) recycle these things, not even in my very ecologically aware city.
What I did find was GreenDisk.
Green Disk logo
GreenDisk allows you to ship your tech waste to them and they will not only destroy sensitive data (as on CDs, DVDs, and hard drives) but will dispose of your tech waste in an ecologically friendly way (i.e. recycling).
You do have to pay them, but the fee is nominal. For up to 20 lbs of waste (including disks, DVDs, jewel cases, printer cartridges, cables, iPods, digital cameras, cell phones, etc) it is only $6.95 plus shipping. Since mine was all media the shipping of a 28 lb box was about $13 using the US Postal Service.
So $20 total and my conscience is clear.
For amounts over 30 lbs they have a different pricing system as well as special rates for large tech wasters (e.g. companies). They also take all forms of computers and computer related items like scanners and printers.
So yeah, if you can’t find local places to recycle your tech waste (because local is always better if you can get it), then please, for the love of all that’s green, go to these guys:-)

The Biodegradable Grass Phone

March 5th, 2009 1 comment
The Biodegradable Grass Phone

The Biodegradable Grass Phone

Two Year Life-Cycle

Two Year Life-Cycle

Too often the life of a cell phone is tied to the two-year contract provided by phone  providers.  When two years are up, the once innovative, phone is discarded for a newer, sleeker model.

Je-Hyun Kim’s grass phone concept carefully considers the life-cycle of a typical phone today.  Made of grass and hay, this phone is made to recycle itself.  Designed only to last the duration of it’s operative  life-cycle, this biodegradable phone clumps apart for easy recycling.  Once the grassy overlay has dissolved, the screen, keys, and other electronic parts can easily be recycled or integrated into a new phone.  Hay may no longer be just for horses!

via Inhabitat