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Big Ideas That Just Make Sense

A big part of ‘being green’ or engaging in a more ‘sustainable lifestyle’ is making the most efficient use of the resources and materials that are readily available. Though useful in the right situations, there’s often no need to employ new ideas or technology to up the ante and engage in green behavior; some ideas just make sense, and it just takes a little forethought (and a little creativity, sometimes) to make them work.

So, what exactly are we talking about here? How about when restaurants that give their fryers a daily workout use their waste oil for fuel (that’s right, just like on The GREEN [www.sundance.tv] last week), like Burgerville [www.treehugger.com], this British chippie [www.treehugger.com] and even McDonalds [www.treehugger.com]. Other ideas are a little more conceptual at this point, but worthy nonetheless: solar-powered air conditioners [www.treehugger.com] (so practical and intuitive that we mention it again [www.treehugger.com] and again [www.treehugger.com] top this list. Think about it: you run air conditioning in the hot sun, when the solar rays beat down and essentially go to waste, heating the building you’re trying to cool; why not use the power for good?

Other ideas, like regenerative braking on hybrids, are out there, but waiting for improvement; as we noted here [www.treehugger.com], much of the energy from current regenerative braking systems can’t be absorbed quickly enough by the chemical batteries and is lost; it’s a great idea, and, by using ultracapacitors (suggested in the article), can be made even better; someday, cars could be a totally closed system, generating their own power through regeneration from all the moving parts. More generally, ideas like integrating biomimicry in design [www.sundance.tv] and using gas released by landfills to create energy [www.treehugger.com] (and power renewable energy projects like this biodiesel plant [www.treehugger.com]) put this idea to work on both ends of the product and design lifecycle: using the gas created by the breakdown of waste in landfills cycles energy back into a useful form (similar to Bill McDonough & Michael Braungart’s Cradle-to-Cradle idea that waste=food [www.treehugger.com]), while biomimicry takes a note from nature and cuts back on waste from the start. Makes sense to us.