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Tag Archives: Environmental

60BAGs Biodegrade In Only 60 Days

60bag

By Luke Anderson

Over the past couple of years I’ve noticed more retailers offering reusable shopping bags for around a buck apiece. Every time I walk past a rack of these I think to myself how they’re a good idea, and that they are much better for then environment than plastic bags. Of course I haven’t actually bothered to pick up any such bags to use myself. I’ll admit, the main reason is sheer laziness and the desire to not carry in bags every time I go shopping. I imagine that I’m not the only one doing this, mostly because I’ve only seen a handful of people actually using those fancy bags.

I won’t say that the reusable bags aren’t working, but I think that a good many people are resistant to them simply because it requires extra effort. Thankfully there are companies making cool disposable alternatives like the 60BAGs. These are made from flax-viscose non-woven fabric which will biodegrade in just 60 days. That seems pretty quick, especially since some of your average grocery bags can take up to 500 years to biodegrade. These 60BAGs are currently only available in Poland, so we might not see them here in the US for a while. Until then, your best bet is the reusable bags, or at least doing what I do and recycle the plastic bags that you do use.

[ 60BAG ] VIA [ BoingBoing ]

Harness The Power Of Wind To Recharge Your Gadgets

By Luke Anderson

Over the last few years there has been a big push for alternative energy sources. This push has lead to a great many solar-powered gadgets which promise to provide energy by harnessing the power of the sun. While that’s all good and well, there are situations where a solar panel isn’t going to be all that useful. However, if you can generate a bit of wind, you could always use this Mini Kin Green Power Generator.

This little device can be strapped to just about anything (they suggest a bike, your arm or even your dog) and will generate power when air flows through it. This energy can then be used to charge just about an gadget that uses a mini USB port. Sure, it’s not enough to cut your electric bill by any significant amount, but every little bit helps the environment. If alternative energy is your thing, then you can pick one of these up for around $50.

[ IWantOneOfThose ] VIA [ GeekAlerts ]

Trees To Sense Nukes, Scream For Help During Forest Fires

By Evan Ackerman

Trees. All they do is stand there and obscure otherwise dramatic views of forests. Why shouldn’t we expect them to do something helpful to humanity, for a change? MIT feels exactly this way, and has figured out how to wire up trees with sensors, tapping directly into their roots for free electricity. Voltree Power is currently working on commercializing the concept:

Voltree’s “bioenergy converter” has been integrated into a power module that does not depend on wind, light, heat gradients or mechanical movement and is environmentally benign to produce and run. It parasitically harvests metabolic energy from any large plant without significantly harming it and the useful lifetime of the device is only limited by the lifetime of the host. It is weather resistant, completely quiet and has no heat or noise signatures making it also ideal for various security applications, currently under development.

The sensors are modular and can measure pretty much anything, from temperature and humidity to radiation. The electricity comes from some kind of voodoo magic generated through the difference in pH between tree roots and the surrounding soil. It’s not much, but it adds up, and it’s enough to allow the tree to transmit its data wirelessly through a mesh network of other trees to a base station up to four times a day. The tree is also able to send emergency messages, such as “OW OW OW I’M ON FIRE COME PUT ME OUT HUURRRYYY!!!”

[ MIT ] VIA [ BBG ]

Production Chevy Volt Unveiled

Chevy Volt

By Evan Ackerman

Well, this is it. What we’ve all been waiting for, right? The 2011 production version of the Chevy Volt. Happy (and impressed) as I am that GM has actually committed to producing the Volt, I have to say that I’m slightly disappointed at the compromises that they’ve made in the final design. It looks kinda, well, normal, at least compared to the concept versions we’ve been looking at for the last couple years.

Chevy Volt

To be fair, the production Volt does retain some of the futuristic and angular elements that we’d seen in the concept versions until this point, but it’s been drastically toned down to (I assume) appeal to a wider demographic of consumers who, unlike me, don’t want their new car to look like something out of a sci-fi movie that isn’t Transformers 2. The other big reason is most likely fuel efficiency: as awesome as that long nose on the concept looked, it was probably about as aerodynamic as a fat moose. And really, the thing that’s going to make the Volt successful isn’t it’s looks, it’s the plug-in battery power and the resulting fuel economy, for which aerodynamics are way more important than looks.

Long nose and angular style or not, when 2011 rolls around, the Volt is still going to be at the top of my list to replace my Volvo, which I have no doubt will have collapsed into a pile of beige splinters by then.

After the jump, a couple more angles on the production Volt.Continue Reading

KOR ONE Hydration Vessel

KOR ONE Hydration Vessel (Images courtesy KOR Ideas)
By Andrew Liszewski

You’d think that more companies would take a hint from Apple when it comes to slick product design. And don’t get me wrong, design isn’t everything, but it can definitely make your product stand out, particularly if you’re in a crowded market. Take water bottles for example. While I’m perfectly happy with my stainless steel SIGG bottle, I’m ready to trade it in for one of these cool looking KOR ONE ‘hydration vessels’. (Which in and of itself sounds cooler than ‘water bottle’.) Besides being re-usable, the KOR ONE doesn’t use any polycarbonates (like other re-usable plastic bottles) which according to their website contains bisphenol-a or ‘BPA’ which is a known hormone disruptor. That’s pretty much the reason I switched to a stainless steel water bottle in the first place. The KOR ONE also features a hinged cap that can be opened and closed with one hand without the risk of it falling off or going MIA.

The KOR ONE will be available from the company’s website in August for $29.95, and if you think that’s expensive just run the numbers on how many bottles of water you buy in a year and I think you’ll find it quite reasonable.

[ KOR ONE Hydration Vessel ] VIA [ Uncrate ]

Innervision 1 Recyclable Plastic Bike

Innervision 1 Plastic Bike (Images courtesy Matt Clark)
By Andrew Liszewski

We all know that riding a bike is an all-around better solution to driving a car when it comes to emissions (not to mention physical fitness) but the Innervision 1 takes things one step further. Created by industrial designer Matt Clark, the IV-1 bike’s frame is made entirely of recycled plastic, but thanks to a specially designed “spaceframe-like” inner structure of triangles and molded beams, it’s as strong and rigid as a regular aluminum bike frame.

The bicycle is aimed at improving and solving multiple issues involved in production. It is also designed to utilize automated processes and more cost efficient materials (plastics).

The bicycle consists entirely of reinforced and unreinforced recyclable polypropylene. The patent-pending bicycle features a two component frame: the plastic INNERFRAME and the plastic outer structure, both dual components.Ideally, the material would be sourced from recycled plastic sources (IE: old bottles etc) to reduce environmental impact and costs.

The INNERFRAME, which gives the bicycle it’s rigidity, is most easily described as a spaceframe-like structure that features triangulation and molded “beams” to increase it’s strength. Additionally, this prototype, utilizes reinforced polypropylene for the inner chainstays. One main objective was to make the frame fully recyclable and it, absolutely, is.

And while I’m sure that those who specifically ride a bike for environmental reasons will like the idea behind the Innervision 1, hopefully the fact that it’s made from recycled materials will give it a price tag that will appeal to all bike riders.

[ Bike Commuters – Exclusive! Matt Clark Design Plastic Bike IV-1 Prototype ] VIA [ Wired Gadget Lab ]

Behold! The Mowercycle

By Luke Anderson

As a kid I spent many a summer afternoon mowing lawns. Since I lived in the country, my neighbors had acres of land that needed mowing, unlike the small backyards that some kids clip for cash.  I remember always wanting a riding mower, however, had my parents gotten me this Mowercycle to use, I think I’d have given up the mowing biz.

I actually think this is kind of a cool idea. I’m not sure how practical it is, but if it works well, it would be an interesting alternative for those with small yards. Then again it might just take more effort than it’s worth. Unfortunately there’s no info about it, but I don’t imagine it would be too difficult to craft one for yourself if you really wanted to.

[ Flickr ] VIA [ Dvice ]

Planilum Light Emitting Glass Provides Another Alternative To Incandescent Bulbs

Planilum Light Emitting Glass (Image courtesy Saazs)
By Andrew Liszewski

If you haven’t already switched the lightbulbs in your home from incandescents to fluorescents or LEDs, you might want to hold off just a bit longer. Planilum is being referred to as the first ‘light emitting glass’, and it was co-developed over 6 years by Saazs and Saint-Gobain Innovations. The idea is that instead of using lamps and dedicated lighting fixtures, the furniture and other objects in your room can be integrated with these panels and used as illumination.

Planilum Light Emitting Glass (Image courtesy Saazs)

Planilum is just 0.8 inches thick and is composed of 4 layers of special glass, a rare gas and serigraphed phosphors. It’s rated for about 50,000 hours of use which equates to roughly 20 years of normal usage, and when the panels do die they’re 90% recyclable. (Though there’s no mention of how that special gas or serigraphed phosphors can be disposted of.) When powered on, the lights only get as warm as the human body, and are completely are safe to touch. Their soft glow also means you don’t need to use a shade or diffuser. If you want to check out Planilum in person you’ll need to visit the company’s showroom in Paris. But you might as well leave your checkbook at home since I’m pretty sure it’s not available for sale just yet.

[ Planilum Light Emitting Glass ] VIA [ Inhabitat ]

db clay Unveils Version 3.1 Wallets

db clay Version 3.1 Wallets (Images courtesy db clay)
By Andrew Liszewski

These days it’s almost a crime to refer to db clay’s products as ‘duct tape wallets’. The custom engineered and eco-friendly tape-like material they’re made from (Tope) seems more like a specially developed canvas for their really cool designs. Version 3.1 features such unique standouts as Fish and Fur, which was taken in a taxidermy shop and Slow Bugs, which were actually all collected in the company’s red bricked warehouse. (Post-mortem of course.)

What’s even more impressive is that Version 3.1 marks the company’s 10 year anniversary of making these truly one-of-a-kind wallets. While the 12 pictured above are currently available for sale on the db clay website ($48 each) an additional 6 designs are only available for pre-order right now.

[ db clay Version 3.1 Wallets ]