Top 10 Unusual Green Inventions
For those of you who haven’t been keeping up with the eco-trends of the last few years, here’s a top 10 list of some of the most interesting (and unusual) green-ideas that have caught worldwide attention, influenced a number of other environmentally friendly inventions, and of course, made a delightful circulation around the web.
1. Cigarette-Butt Clothing
Big Tobacco now providing unfiltered style!
Cigarettes aren’t healthy (duh). But neither is fast food, drinking, and staying out in the sun too long. Truth is, people still do it and will continue to do it for as long as these things are available to them. Cigarettes especially probably have the most dangerous long term effects, and it’s no secret that millions of people smoke each day — the evidence of that is all over the place!
Cigarette butts are one of the most prevalent forms of litter seen amongst the public arenas of society — streets, sidewalks, parks, beaches, etc., — so when Alexandra Guerrero proposed the idea that they be recycled for another use, well, let’s just say the result was smokin’. (ba dum ch!)
The Chilean designer discovered that when properly sanitized, cigarette butts can be crafted into a stylish, durable material, and decided to use that material to make clothing. After being sterilized through a machine called an ‘autoclave,’ washed in a special solvent, and put in the autoclaves once more, the butts are ready to be rinsed, dried, and shredded. Sounds pleasant!
After the fibers are dyed and separated, they’re then spun together with natural sheep wool — and the result is crafted into any sort of clothing — dresses, hats, vests, even ponchos!
And yes, the cigarette butts are completely purified, which means you won’t walk around smelling like Joe Camel. (Have you met that guy? He reeks!)
(photo courtesy of yesyesyes.org)
2. Organic lubricant
For all you pervs out there, it’s not what you think it is.
A company called Yes has manufactured a water-based organic lubricant and moisturizer that does a number of things synthetic lubricants don’t. With its lack of harmful chemicals that may irritate or damage the skin, Yes water-based lubricant is made from ingredients like Aloe Vera, Flax extract, locust bean gum, and citric acid (for pH balance, of course). These ingredients are naturally grown, and contain powerful moisturizing properties. It’s odorless, leaves skin residue-free, hypoallergenic, and can be safely used with latex.
The oil-based lubricant also contains natural ingredients like sweet almond oil, shea butter, and cocoa butter. The oil can be used for massages as well, and is a perfectly all-natural substitute to regular lubricant. The only different is that it is not recommended for use with latex condoms
The Yes brand doesn’t use skin irritants like menthol, grapefruit seed extract, or glycerin. It also doesn’t use any synthetic preservatives like:
– Petroleum by-products (like paraffin oil or petroleum jelly) which coat the skin and prevent it from performing normal functions. Petrolatum is no longer allowed for use in cosmetic manufacturing due to its impurities linked to cancer.
– Parabens, which are potentially linked to breast cancer
– Silicone oils, which do the same thing as petroleum by-products with their toxicity
The brand will never test on animals nor will it use any animal ingredients. The only thing “close” to an animal source is Beeswax (approved by the Vegetarian Society) and is one of the ingredients in the oil-based lubricant.
And I know what you’re thinking: sure it’s healthy, but is it any good?
The Yes brand swears by their product that you will not sacrifice anything for the ultimate sexual experience. And it’s pretty cheap too — check out the website and see for yourself!
3. Staple-free Stapler
Self explanatory. It’s a stapler that doesn’t use staples!
Okay…maybe I’ll explain.
This little eco-friendly device disregards the use of non-biodegradable, copper/copper alloy/iron staples which are used in the billions each year. Whether they’re dropped somewhere on your carpet, used for essays that eventually get thrown out, or used as bullets when you open the stapler like a gun and fire it at your sibling (come on, most of you have done that.)
What the staple-free stapler does, is it slices a tiny flap in the corner of your paper, which it then folds in on itself into a tiny paper pocket. Organic origami!
The drawback? It can only handle up to 5 sheets at a time, which is a bummer for all the college students out there who don’t write papers less than 10 pages — but for those little reports at work or spark noted reports at school, this little eco-invention is perfect for you!
(Photo credit: Club4Climate)
Need a light in the bathroom? You’ll have to do the Macarena!
That would indeed be a special kind of hell. Fortunately, that’s not the case. In 2008, Britain opened its first dance floor-powered nightclub, Bar Suyra, which seems counter-intuitive, but once you see the setup, you might think differently.
Basically, the floor has springs and power generating blocks, which when stepped on, create a small electrical current known as “piezoelectricity.”
The creator states that 60% of the clubs energy needs could be provided by vigorous dancing by the patrons. His idea is aimed at getting young people involved in the green movement, and established the organization known as Club4Climate,” aimed at lowering the effects of global warming.
The club entrance fee is about 10 euro, but cyclists and pedestrians enter for free. All patrons must sign a pledge, however, that promises they will help contribute to the clubs energy-generating efforts. So in short, if you wanna come in, you gotta dance! The venue also includes air flush/waterless urinals, low flush toilets, and polycarbon cups for drinking.
With the club’s own wind turbine and solar energy system, any surplus electricity will be donated towards local residents.
Now that’s a beat I think we can all dance to.
(Photo credit: Obit-Mag)
5. Replant yourself
I wanna come back as a tomato!
We all know that embalming is a chemical-heavy process, and coffins aren’t that great for the ground — even cremation ashes (with its toxic release of mercury, lead, carbon dioxide, and other greenhouse gasses) can intensify the effects of global warming. So what’s a recently deceased person to do? Maybe you should have consulted the handbook! (I know, it reads like stereo instructions.)
Beetlejuice reference aside, a different way of ‘burying’ yourself is available with a process known as Resomation. This particular process involves submerging the body in alkali and water, then adding pressure and heat until liquefied. The result? A fluid of biological compounds that can be used as fertilizer and bone calcium that can be easily discarded. The process has limited carbon emissions, no harmful mercury use, and is even energy efficient!
Although probably not a popular idea among most, eco-lovers (residing in the Florida, Maine, and Oregon areas) can rest assured knowing that now they can literally fight to the death for the environment, turning themselves into one, big biodegradable entity.
It’s quite an admirable process, however. Yet for some reason I can’t stop thinking of that graveyard scene in Michael Jackson’s Thriller video…
(Photo via Independent)
6. Breast power
A Booby in Motion Tends to Stay in Motion, And a Booby at Rest…Won’t Charge Your iPod.
Harnessing the power of breasts. Now for some of us women, that’s easier said than done. But for scientists working towards the effort of using the friction and motion of breasts to generate usable energy, it’s a bit more difficult.
Wires would be installed into the bra, and when they rub together with the movement of the chest, they generate energy. But how would you keep the wires from getting damaged by sweat or washing? Another layer of fabric, perhaps, but that’s not even the biggest issue. The real problem with the idea, is that the smaller the breast, the less it moves, so the less energy it generates. A woman with a larger cup size would of course have more movement, but she would most likely be wearing a stronger supporting bra. That leaves the middle sizes, who will suffer the same issue with both low and high support bras.
Although breasts are the ideal target (go figure), for now items like T-shirts are being proposed with the same ideas. Soon enough, we’ll be able to wear clothing that’ll be able to sustain a big enough charge to power an iPod.
Or for women with tremendously large cup sizes, possibly an entire building.
Maybe Wonder Woman should look into harnessing this power as an energy source her very own invisible plane?
7. Exercise-Powered Hotel
Talk about working ‘hard’ for the money! Guests staying at Denmark’s Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers can help generate electricity via exercise bikes. The bikes themselves are attached to the main power grid, and they must pedal for at least 6 minutes at 20mph in order to produce 10+ watt hours of electricity — which if they do — results in receiving a free meal! (what happened to dangling a Twinkie in front of a treadmill?)
The reason it sounds so easy is because the hotel wants to make it so that everyone can participate. What better way to inspire guests to help the environment and stay in shape? The hotel keeps green by utilizing the largest solar panel park in Northern Europe, is the first to use a groundwater-based cooling and heating system, and they even use biodegradable shampoo bottles. That cuts energy costs by nearly 90%.
iPhones attached to the bikes make it possible for the guests to also monitor their progress, even offering an option to race against the solar panels in an attempt to generate energy. While many people loathe the idea of exercise, it’s a pretty neat concept to inspire people to help the environment. I mean, when was the last time you beat the sun in anything?
Photo via Gizmag
(Photo credit: Asus)
8. Bamboo laptops
A panda ate my homework, I swear!
Asus has been circulating their very own EcoBook — an environmentally friendly machine entirely covered in industrial strength bamboo! The machines themselves reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and use a hybrid engine to save battery life. Any plastic inside of it is 100% recyclable, and no sprays, paints, or electroplating was used on any of the components. The laptops are also lined with cardboard.
Before Asus, however, Dell had released the first of the EcoBooks. Also covered in bamboo, the machine uses 70% less power, and is comprised of recycled milk jugs and old bottles.
An admirable effort to turn the world of technology a little more eco-friendly…perhaps now the infamous ‘blue screen of death’ will be replaced with a green one?
(Photo credit: PrePeat)
9. PrePeat Printer
What is it called? PrePeat. What is it called? PrePeat!
The PrePeat Printer is basically what you get when you cross a whiteboard with a printer. The inkless, tonerless machine uses a special paper made of polyethylene terephthalate — aka PET plastic — which you can print any sort of information on, and when you’re done, you feed the paper back in and can reuse the sheet — it’s like a digital whiteboard — only without the washing.
The sheets themselves are heat sensitive, and a ‘precision thermal head’ prints out gray scale text. When you feed the sheet back through the printer, a different temperature erases it.
The only drawback? It’s pretty damn expensive. At around $5,600 for the printer and $3,360 for a 1000 pack of sheets, it’s a lot of money to be eco-friendly. However, I’m sure if you add up the total cost of ink and paper replacements, it may end up balancing out in the end, especially if you‘re the type of person that prints everything out. The PrePeat printer cuts back on the use of paper, and each PET plastic sheet can be used up to 1,000 times. I wish this were available when I was in college…I could have recycled many a term paper instead of burning them all in the fires of celebration.
(Photo credit: Xeros, Ltd)
10. Waterless Washing Machine
Quick! Wish this stain out!
It seems as though the ‘waterless’ washing machine is the hot new thing that could help cut your household bills by nearly a third. This new washing machine was developed by Xeros Ltd., and uses tiny nylon beads (that are also reusable) to absorb stains.
The process would use about 90% less water than a standard wash cycle, needing only as little as 1 cup of water for each wash. The machine would be able to remove all types of stains, like ink, mud — even wine! The best part? The clothes that come out of the machine are nearly dry, which reduces to need for a dryer!
According to The Energy Saving Trust website claims that just about 1/3 of household energy is used to heat water, and 15% of the water bill is due to laundry. Guardian states that “if everyone in the UK converted from normal washing to the Xeros system, the carbon emissions saved would be the equivalent of taking 1.4 million cars off the roads.” That’s a load off our footprint!
Stephen Burkinshaw, a polymer chemist at Leeds University, discovered this idea of polymer-based cleaning. He spent 30 years trying to improve the dyeing of plastics in fabrics when he realized that stains act much similarly to dyes, and then began the process of trying to figure out if plastics could have the opposite effect on them. Since the nylon beads attract stains, placing them in a 100% humidity environment would cause them to become amorphous, allowing the stains to diffuse into the center of the beads.
And voila! Stains are gone! The Xeros machine is expected to be ready for release by the end of 2011, and I’m sure the environment (as well as our wallets) will be thanking you!