More often than not, it’s great to have some solid connections in the green world. Shea Gunther— one of the top green bloggers on the web and twitter — casually threw a question my way earlier this week: Would I like to try a pair of New Balance’s first ever green shoe for their “Eco-prefer Collection”. Would I?!
Less than 12 hours after I accepted, a shiny pair of New Balance 070s arrived on my doorstep. I tore open the box, admired the bold colors, and have pretty much been wearing them since. But first, let’s talk about what it is exactly that makes these shoes “green”.
Obviously, New Balance set out to completely re-think they way they design shoes in as environmentally-friendly a manner as possible. To that end, the 070 fits together like a kind of puzzle to reduce waste. The outsole features a rice husk fill that decreases the amount of rubber used in the production of the shoe. The insert, as well as all synthetics, are made from recycled materials. The upper materials use a combination of recycled polyester and natural materials. The upper is also designed so that everything has a symmetrical opposite. This was done to minimize waste as much as possible when cutting the material for the shoes.
After discovering this recycled seatbelt hammock from TING, I’m convinced that there’s no limit to the clever reuse of discarded materials.
These gorgeous handwoven hammocks are made from reclaimed seatbelt webbing. They are water resistant, comfy, and most-definitely a conversation starter. Colors available include bright shades like hot pink, orange, camel, turquoise, chocolate or black. The company also makes a line of recycled pillow covers that look just as pretty. But recycled art comes with a price: $585 for each hammock. Ouch.
I never really thought of binoculars are being a contributor to environmental degradation, but after reading what Nikon has done to remove certain nasties from the production of their new “Ecobins” binocs, it’s evident that even uncommon goods are in need of some reform.
The Ecobins feature some nice green touches — like lead and arsenic-free Eco-Glass™ lenses and prisms, non-chloride rubber, and biodegradable materials for the case and strap (made without the use of harmful inks or dyes). The packaging is also eco-friendly, being produced from eighty-five percent post-consumer waste and printed on recyclable FiberStone® paper. The usual bells and whistles associated with binoculars are also included. From Gizmag:
Ecobins are waterproof and fogproof, use aspherical eyepiece lenses designed to deliver distortion-free viewing, internal blackening to minimize light loss inside binocular tubes and multi-coated lenses for improved brightness, contrast and true color.
Well played, Nikon. Well played.
UPDATE: Ecorazzi is now giving away a Neuton in celebration of their two year anniversary. One person will be chosen at random.]
Before I start this review, you should know that I have a love/hate relationship with lawns. Living in the Northeast, they’re a necessary evil when one has not yet shifted an entire backyard to something built on permaculture. On the other hand, a recently cut lawn does look beautiful and sharp — something drilled into my head from summers of mowing other lawns to make cash in High School.
When my lawn turns colors from a lack of rain, I do not get out the sprinkler. I consider it a vacation from the weekly chore of mowing. If weeds or other variants of grass make their presence known, I consider them compliments to the scenery. It amuses/depresses me to no end the amount of resources Americans spend on the upkeep of lawns across the US — especially in places where grass has no business growing in the first place.
We’re all about choice when it comes to death here on GroovyGreen. Sure, you don’t have much say in how you’ll go, but you can definitely make sure your exit is packaged just right. Take for instance these eco-friendly custom cardboard coffins from Creative Coffins. Each one is made from 60% recycled paper plus wood pulp sourced from sustainable forests, contains only natural starch-based glues (no screws, bolts, tape, or other fittings), handles made from natural woven cotton, and is completely non-toxic. Better yet, you can have them custom designed — or choose from any number of beautiful designs already on the site.
My favorites are the “Gone To Seed” theme or the “Box of Candy” design — mainly because it would be really funny to see some kid’s face if they thought it was a giant box of candy. Ok, probably not.
There are a myriad of solar cell phone chargers out there, but this is the first one I’ve found that actually encourages you to carry it around with you. I understand the frustration of a dead cell battery, but attaching something else to to your cell phone just seems cumbersome. Granted, you can charge this little device separately and then use it to power up, but eh. Looks like something that might catch on in Japan rather than the States. If this is your thing, it will be available February 9th.
Got 14 minutes? With this new eco-friendly washing machine from Beko, you’ll be throwing some clean clothes up on the line pretty quick. Its latest release is a tricked-out, energy efficient marvel with a 14-minute wash cycle. The benefits for those that are energy-conscious are evident, but the technology inside this thing also calculates the exact amount of water required according to the type and quantity of the laundry. For those suffering through some intense droughts, this might be a wonderful option for conservation.
Beko has already received an eco-award for its energy efficiency. The only thing one hopes is that the models will be carried beyond the UK. Current price is a reasonable £349.
It doesn’t come in green, but Philips’ new 42-inch Eco TV is certainly sporting some earth-friendly credentials.
Announced at CES 2008, this television is packed with power-saving features; something a few of my off-grid friends might find interesting when considering their next (or first) television. From the article,
“Chief among them is the ability to dim the backlight–by up to five times peak brightness–in response to program material, much like the “local dimming” found on Samsung’s LED-based LN-T4681F. Dimming the backlight in darker scenes has the dual benefit of saving power and improving black-level performance, according to the company. The backlight can also be dimmed via a room lighting sensor, so in dark rooms it will use less power. There’s also traditional a “power-saving” mode that caps the peak light output.”
I always enjoy creative fixes to environmental eyesores. Take for instance this concept for a slip-on cover made from wool felt for water bottles. Called the Cup Lasso, it effectively turns what might otherwise simply be recycled into a suddenly useful and appealing vase for flowers. Nice, right? The concept comes from Orcadesign’s “GreenHouse Effect” project — which explores 10 concepts for eco-friendly living with aesthetic appeal.
Our friend Ruben Miller sent us an email on an alternative energy concept him and his wife submitted to the Metropolis’ Next Generation 2007 competition and we think it’s pretty cool. While the idea of harnessing human energy has been around for awhile, this one actually seems feasible. From the article,
“Imagine a nightclub where dancers generate the venue’s electricity just from the impact of their steps. With Redmond’s innovative flooring system, this vision of a human-powered energy source may be close to a reality. The floor tiles, cast in durable concrete and recycled glass, are fitted with piezoelectric brass-reinforced ceramic plates covered in nickel electrodes. With the impact of each footstep, a metal pointer inside the tile compresses the ceramic plate, generating an electric impulse. The resulting voltage activates four LED lights, visible through the glass surface, allowing energy-generating participants to see the power of their steps.”
This type of technology is intended for high-traffic areas; sidewalks, playgrounds, school hallways, etc. Obviously, you could do away with the LED lights and incorporate the idea into flooring that makes the whole thing less obvious. We love the concept, however, and hope Elizabeth and Ruben keep pushing to make it a reality.
Community Solutions recently issued a report about modifications necessary to our transportation infrastructure in a future world where we experience declining oil supplies. (Community Solutions, if you aren’t familiar with them, is the group that created the documentary “The Power of Community: How Cuba survived Peak Oil”) They are proposing a system they are calling the Smart Jitney, which is essentially a souped up ride share program designed to reduce the amount of cars on our roads. And I have to say, I like it. I like it a lot.
I recently read through a report by Alliance Bernstein about the future of automobiles where they placed all the marbles for our future transportation needs in the plugged in hybrid basket. Essentially making quite a few difficult, and risky, assumptions that we will be able to sequester power plant emissions (unproven), generate clean energy for our homes and cars (not at the levels we are generating now), and create a new infrastructure built around a totally new type of car (to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars). In short, they are making some huge leaps there to support their given choice for transportation.
Wow, here’s another West Coast only first! In Santa Rosa, CA (just north of San Francisco) there is a company that makes pots for your plants, flowers, herbs, and such out of sustainable crops, mainly grain husks. They’re called EcoForms.
Now from what I understand, such a product already exists in Canada, the UK, and Australia. EcoForms is the first here in the US (but correct me if I’m wrong). They are a husband wife team who run an organic nursery called Sweetwater Nursery. Like most things borne out of necessity; they wanted an alternative to the plastic pots. They had already converted their greenhouses to solar power and their trucks to biofuels, but the plastic containers for their organic plants just seems contradictory, hence an idea was borne!
They are designed to last 5 years in all climates. and come in a variety of earthy colors and different sizes. If you decide to discard it into a landfill, it will breakdown into a nutrient-rich organic matter with a PH value of 7.0. You can find them at Whole Foods or contact them directly for wholesale orders, or custom designs.
Tell all your green thumb friends,
A recent article on the illegality of selling raw milk caught my eye.
“Arlie Stutzman was busted in a rare sting when an undercover agent bought raw milk from the Amish dairy farmer in an unlabeled container.”
On the surface it would seem that the government agency responsible for this sting has way too much time on its hands. Further investigation into unpasteurized milk reveals that it can carry harmful bacteria. It is also true however that the pasteurization of milk does has negative effects that are seldom discussed in the press.
The pasteurization of milk: