It’s hot – real hot! Even the greenest among us just wants to crank up the AC and lay around a lot. You can go there, or you can try out some of these ideas for beating the heat with a lighter environmental impact.
Seen that ad for GE turbines in which a bar full of working class customers raises their glasses to “the guys that make the power that makes the beer?” Those same beer drinkers should be ecstatic, then, at news out of Michigan involving a brewery that makes its own power (and probably better beer than the Budweiser mentioned in the ad – and, yes, I am a St. Louisan saying that!).
Sure, you’d love to power at least part of your home on renewable energy, but the local infrastructure isn’t there yet: no nearby wind farm, no solar or geothermal installers. And, besides, it really isn’t that windy where you live.
That’s the kind of mindset that fossil fuels have given us: we really can’t go out and drill our own oil and gas, or mine our own coal, so we’ve assumed largely that energy is something that others have to provide for us. But part of the beauty of renewables is their availability: we all get some sun, wind, or geothermal heat, and with a little elbow grease, we can harvest that energy – no power company or massive centralized plant needed.
Sound is an intrinsic part of an environment, even if we often don’t notice it. The cars and chatter of the city, the layering of those sounds with birds chirping and trees rustling in an urban park, or the absolute silence in a winter wilderness, make these places what they are as much as other physical features. Craig Colorusso’s mobile Sun Boxes sound installation makes use mindful of that play between the physical and the aural while respecting the environment itself.
From cool iPhone covers made from old skateboards to silicon chips that can turn your shoes into phone chargers, there’s a lot of phone-related green tech out there this week.
Keep killing your houseplants because you forget to water? Or wasting gas because you never remember to check your tire pressure. We’ve got solutions for both, and more, in this week’s green tech finds.
Forget to water your plants?: Yep, there’s now an app for that. The Koubachi Wifi Plant Sensor tells an app on your phone when your houseplants need some water.
If you can power your phone with sunlight, and carry water purification equipment on your back, is there any need for large-scale, dirty utilities in the developing world? Those ideas and more in this week’s green tech finds.
What’s your neighborhood’s Bike Score?: The five-year-old Walk Score online service, which rates walkability of neighborhoods, cities, and addresses, now offers a similar metric for bicyclists. The new Bike Score is available in ten cities (and, apparently, Minneapolis is more bike-friendly than Portland – who’da thunk it?). (via The Atlantic Cities)
Planning to do some biking and walking in London, and want to get rewarded? Or spending time in Cambodia, and want to report illegal wildlife sales? We’ve got apps for that.
Got a savings account for the kids’ education, a future luxury purchase, or just a nest egg? I don’t need to tell you that you’re not getting rich from this kind of investment: it’s really safe, but the cost of that safety is a really paltry rate of return. But, what are you going to do: investments that pay better involve higher levels of risk, and if we could afford to lose money, we wouldn’t be putting it in a savings account in the first place, right?
Want to summarize the case for green jobs in one word? How about “Solyndra?” The fledgling solar company took $535 million of government loan guarantees (read “taxpayers’ money”) down with it when it went bankrupt last year. Even if the government thinks green jobs are a nifty idea, the market doesn’t… right?
One of the many symbols of 80s excess, the DeLorean’s back – as an electric vehicle. That, plus recycled jeans and the real cost to drive a Chevy Volt – your green tech finds for the week.
It’s World Water Day, so in celebration, I’ve found a number of cool stories about water-related technology, including a ocean-going drone, and clean water from poop (really!).
Heard that the light bulb that won $10 million from the government will still cost you $50? Wonder if the UK’s watering ban will really make a difference in terms of water savings? Read on: we’ve got the facts on these questions and more in this week’s green tech finds.
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)
Super Bowl Sunday is coming up, and while I don’t pay enough attention to say whether it’ll be a good game, it will definitely be a green(er) game. That, plus cooler roofs for more efficient solar power, and a very quick look at over a century of global warming: your green tech finds for the week.
Buy renewable energy for your Volt: While the arguments about the energy sources for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids are generally really overblown and oversimplified, many EV drivers do want the cleanest power they can get for their vehicles. So, GM is developing a system for its OnStar platform that would notify Volt drivers when there’s renewable energy available on the grid so they could plug in at the right time. (via Earth 911)
What does global warming look like? If you’re thinking big picture in response to that question, the folks at NASA have released a video that shows 131 years of global temperature fluctuations in 26 seconds. (via Climate Central and @NRDC)
CES and the Detroit Auto Show are going on this week, and we’ve got finds from both!
The tiny electric pick up: Need to haul stuff? You won’t get much into the Smart For-Us, but, as Charis Michelsen at Gas 2.0 points out, it’s awfully cute, and may serve the actual hauling needs of most truck drivers.
Your plants are Tweeting: And they’re thirsty. That’s right: the Botanicalls gadget (not sure what else to call it) sends you a tweet when your plants need watering. Only marginally green, but kind of cool. (via Crisp Green)
Can good design save the world? Well, maybe the Great Lakes, anyway. That, plus community-based solar, clothing recycling, and more: your green tech finds for the week.
The DIY bike seat: Ever wanted a second seat on your bicycle, without investing in a tandem? Or just carrying space without a trailer? Israeli designer Yael Livneh has you covered with his concept made from a used plastic milk crate. He’s entered the concept in Designboom’s Seoul Cycle Design competition. (via Unconsumption and @dothegreenthing)
Occupy the sun: We generally think of solar power as something that individual home and building owners do, but Francesca Rheannon at CSRWire takes a look at community-based efforts to adopt solar technology.
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.
No winter holiday lends itself to environmental discussions quite as well as Hanukkah: getting eight days’ use out of one day of oil (the miracle on which the celebration is based) inevitably leads to discussions of efficiency and conservation. Numerous Jewish organizations have recognized this connection, and organized a variety of “green Hanukkah” celebrations in recent years involving everything from CFLs to recycled menorahs.
Cool concept cars and planes, speakers that turn ordinary objects into amplifiers, and the potential environmental cost of washing your jacket: this week’s green tech finds.
Honda’s very cool, very light electric concept vehicle: Unfortunately, “concept” often means we’ll never see one on the road. Still, Honda’s EV-STER (which rolled out last week at the Tokyo Auto Show, and is pictured above) shows the company combining electric power with light weight (through lots of body elements made from carbon) and sweet styling; maybe they’ll keep thinking this way as they work towards new production vehicles. (via Earth Techling)
Teenagers build a really fast hybrid, GM’s got an all-electric vehicle in the works, and Nissan has a concept for charging a car in ten minutes: your green tech finds for the week.
Another EV1? Let’s hope not. Chevy plans to start selling the Spark EV (above) in limited US markets in…
A plug-in outdoor table, and how your labtop might contribute to rainforest destruction: this week’s green tech finds.
Wisconsin as a microgrid hub: There’s more than ugly political battles going on in the Badger State. A university-industry consortium announced an initiative to establish “microgrids” at UW campuses in Milwaukee and Madison over the next two years. (via @RepowerAmerica)
Pig poop, coconuts, and seaweed: all the stuff of good green tech finds this week.
An affordable, fast and tip-proof electric motorcycle: Lit Motors CEO Daniel Kim claims all of those qualities come together in the C-1 concept, which could be available as early as 2013. Check it out in the video above. (via GreenTech Pastures)
Harvesting runner power, turning plastic back into oil and becoming a (virtual) upcycling magnate: your green tech finds for the week.
Charge your phone with your shoes: If you run or walk regularly, you’re creating mechanical energy that’s going to waste. The Instep Nanopower concept offers a way to capture that power and transfer it to electronic devices via wi-fi. (via Inhabitat and @EcoverUS)
Become a Trash Tycoon on Facebook: Tired of Farmville? Guerillaapps new Facebook-based social game Trash Tycoon (which is sponsored by upcycling company Terracycle) gives you the opportunity to build a virtual recycling empire. (via Crisp Green)
Lots of building tech this week, from shipping container “farms” to a net-zero rehab to a “living building” in Seattle.
Shipping containers as mini farms?: Is there anything you can’t do with used shipping containers? Atlanta-based PodPonics turns them into small hydroponic “farms” for growing food near the point of sale. (via Triplepundit)
Solar collector by day, light display by night: Move over, Jumbotron! Industrial designer Meidad Marzan‘s Urban Tiles concept combines solar panels and OLED panels that can be installed on the outside of buildings in an array, and which “flip” to shift from solar collector to advertising display, big screen television, or even a massive artistic canvas. (via Inhabitat)