“Lagniappe” is a concept from my Southern Louisiana childhood — it translates roughly as “a little something extra,” and refers to things a merchant might toss in with a purchase (think a baker’s dozen). This week, I thought I’d give you a little lagniappe on some of our previous Greener Consumption themes. So if you’re looking for new reuse projects, green items for the kids or more indoor gardening ideas, we’ve got ‘em.
What’s your favorite watering hole or coffee shop? If you answer “The dumpster down the street,” then (hopefully) you’re familiar with the FOUNDation Project, a creation of Dutch designers Rikkert Paauw and Jet van Zwieten.
What do you do with stuff when its reached the end of its useful life? Usually we trash it, but there’s probably still some kind of use left in it. From take-out containers to phone booths, here are some product ideas that make use of that “garbage.”
Not a techie, but still want to find out the latest on the green products front? No problem: we’ve expanded our weekly green tech finds into a broader array of products with a light footprint. This week: turn off the lights from work, and buy a bamboo toothbrush for yourself and someone else.
Had a chance to visit Manhattan’s High Line yet? If not, we’ve got you covered: we’ve been keeping an eye on this conversion of a railroad trestle into a park since its opening in 2009. But that opening didn’t represent the completion of the High Line; it was more of a launch, with more envisioned as time and money permitted. Last year, developers completed the project’s second section, and, last week, they released plans for part three at the Rail Yards.
Want to charge your e-bike with solar power? Find an iPod speaker as cool as the iBamboo that doesn’t break? Laugh at Donald Trump some more? Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered.
Can you recycle Mardi Gras beads? If you celebrated the lead-up to Lent this week, you may have a ton of plastic beads on hand. While they generally can’t go in the recycling bin, a number of organizations in New Orleans are figuring out “catch and release” schemes for reusing these party favors. (via Earth 911 and @Bennuworld)
Neighborhood gas and service stations are largely a thing of the past: the large-scale convenience store located on main drags or interstate off-ramps seems to have replaced them. Just because the businesses are gone doesn’t mean the buildings are, though, and many of these older structures have unique architectural and design features. Might make for a good business location with some renovation, but a home? It would take an artist’s eye to transform such a structure into a place someone wanted to live.
Do you need to own a copy of every book you’ve ever read? Every film you’ve ever watched? Every tool you’ll ever want to use? No: in most cases, borrowing or renting these items from a traditional library, another lending or rental outlet, or someone who already owns them works just fine for everyone involved, and gives our natural resource base a bit of a break. We want the use of these items; we don’t have to own them to get that.
That mindset often doesn’t carry over for one of the biggest days of our lives: our weddings.
Think “green tech” automatically means “expensive?” Nope: costs are dropping on everything from Earthships to solar power.
An affordable Earthship: I’ve been in love with the Earthship building concept for years, but no way I’d ever be able to afford one. That may be changing, though: the “Simple Survival” model Earthship is designed to provide the amenities of these self-sufficient structures without the “mortgage bondage.” Check it out above.
Lots of green tech on wheels this week: Ford’s concept e-bike, Peugeot’s tiny electric car, and the Air Force’s big move towards EV adoption.
Ford getting into the bicycle business? Maybe: the company released an e-bike concept at the Frankfurt Auto Show. The frame weighs in at a very light 5.5 pounds, and the electric assist motor can run for 53 miles. (via Matter Network and Rodale)
The printed bicycle: The Aerospace Innovation Centre’s bicycle concept on display at the London Design Festival is made from nylon and created by a process similar to 3D printing. The result: a lightweight frame that’s supposedly as strong as steel. (via Do the Green Thing)
Got your fill of Fashion Week? Feeling a little hung over from the barrage of new designs for next Spring (and perhaps a few after-party cocktails)? If so, what’s on the docket for last Spring’s garb? A call to Goodwill for a pick-up? A sneaky trip out to the dumpster? How about selling last season’s clothes on eBay?
I can’t say for certain if Olympic fever has hit yet in Great Britain (I haven’t been there recently), but I’m pretty sure that many Londoners were glad to see Fridge Mountain make way for the site of the 2012 games. Fridge Mountain (in Hackney) was exactly what you’re picturing: a 20-ft. pile of discarded refrigerators that supposedly “towered” over the surrounding neighborhood. I’d expect most don’t miss it much, but American student Lindsey Scannapieco, who never saw the “mountain” itself, found the idea of it inspirational.
Ever thought about picking up a FEMA trailer for a permanent home? Doubtful… these temporary housing units that became famous after Hurricane Katrina not only weren’t designed for permanent residence, but have all the character of, well, government housing.
But those trailers weren’t the only housing option available to storm and flood victims: the Katrina Cottage was developed in Jackson, Mississippi weeks after the storm as both a “dignified alternative” to those white trailers. The cottage had all of the emergency preparedness features of the trailers — modular and easily transportable — but also were designed for transition to permanent structures (that could be built out if an owner desired).
A pedal-powered helicopter, a very low-tech speaker for your iPhone made from bamboo, and an online map of solar power potential for NYC… your green tech finds for the week.
- The pedal-powered helicopter: Think it’s impossible to achieve this kind of flight on human power alone? Engineering students at the University of Maryland managed to get off the ground for 4.2 seconds (a US national record) in their Gamera helicopter. See more about the project in the video above. (via Crisp Green)
- Reused wine bottles: New company Wine Bottle Renew claims it can clean pre-consumer wine bottles (from tasting rooms and manufacturers) to the point where they’re better than new… and cheaper, also. (via Earth 911)
Ever been around a college or university campus when students are moving out of the dorms and campus apartments? Overflowing dumpsters were no doubt a part of the scene. Not only do those dumpsters represent a huge waste of material, but probably also significant costs for schools.
Indiana University in Bloomington decided last year to make the end-of-the-semester trash bonanza a part of its sustainability initiatives, and launched its Hoosier-to-Hoosier reuse program. The idea: give students a place to drop off the second-hand furniture, small appliances, and other items, sort them, and then sell them… some back to students themselves. Proceeds go to the local United Way and Habitat for Humanity.
When I wrote about t-shirt refurbisher Stay Vocal in September, I said this was the only company I knew of recycling t-shirts in this particular manner. Turns out the idea is out there… though still relatively under the radar. British green social media site Green Thing is now in the recycled t-shirt business: it’s SAVED initiative takes donated used shirts, adds some embroidery and other fun items, and then sells them.
If you’re looking for green t-shirts, you’ve got lots of choices: organic cotton, recycled materials, or even bamboo and hemp. To my knowledge, though, Alex Eaves’ Stay Vocal is the only company out there selling reused t-shirts. That’s right… buy one of his products, and it may be a shirt someone’s worn before… though it’s just as likely to be a shirt that a vendor would’ve have otherwise tossed if Stay Vocal hadn’t purchased it. The company puts its own marks on these shirts through a variety of means: patches that go over existing printing, printing on top of printing, or even turning the shirt inside out and adding design.
Ever found it odd that, generally, you have to pay for recycling service? After all, the materials you place in those blue bins are commodities that your recycling service will sell. You might argue that paying people a cut of the revenues generated from the sale of such materials could work better to increase recycling rates (though, in fairness, the prices for such materials are relatively low… though they have been rising).
Philadelphia-based Recyclebank was founded on this concept. While the company doesn’t actually pay people for recycling, it offers a rewards program similar to airline miles or credit card points.
If you’ve looked for suggestions on greening your holiday celebrations, you’ve likely had no trouble finding information on gifts, food, wine… many ideas out there for lowering your impact while still having a great time.
The day after the celebration, though, you’re probably tired, maybe a little (or a lot) hung over, and perhaps cranky… and simply tossing the detritus of the holidays may seem like a really good idea. Nurse the hangover, give yourself some time to wake up, and then put some of these ideas into practice for disposing of the wreckage without undermining all of those earlier green efforts: