Archive for November, 2009
There’s nothing like a real tree at Christmas, except for all the dropped pine needles and the hassle of getting it home. The Cardboard Christmas Tree from Cloud Gate Design is, forgive the expression, thinking outside the box. Developed by two product designers, Nick Ng and Dan Greene, the Cardboard Christmas Tree is an environmentally friendly alternative that extends the life of paper waste by using recycled corrugated cardboard for both the tree and its packaging.
The original Cardboard Tree was 3ft tall but this year a 1ft tabletop version is available. After assembly the tree is ideal for any dinner table, side table or child’s bedroom. Each tree comes with ready-made decorations that can be painted, glittered and glued into place. The tree comes in a reusable box so after being decorated it can be repackaged and sent on as a gift. At the end of the holiday season it can even be recycled again!
A portion of the profits made from the Cardboard Christmas Tree are donated to the Trees for America program, run by the Arbor Day Foundation. For every dollar donated a tree is planted in a damaged forest. We think this is a great idea to cut down on holiday paper waste!
The Pangolin is a large capacity rucksack, inspired by the sharp-scaled anteater that curls up into a ball when danger approaches. The bag is designed to use overlapping strips of recycled inner tubes, taken from Heavy Goods Vehicles; attached to each other via a wing nut. When closed the pieces form a hard, round shell; when opened they retract into each another, revealing lots of storage space and canvas pockets; ideal for holding pens, notebooks, a phone or MP3 player. The bag comes with a handle and adjustable straps, and is anatomically shaped to fit comfortably on the wearer’s back.
The Pangolin anteater, after which the bag is named, is found in tropical regions of Africa and Asia. The Pangolin lacks teeth so uses powerful front claws to dig out anthills or termite mounds, before using its long tongue to scoop up the insects. They are a popular bush-meat, and a particular delicacy enjoyed in China.
The Pangolin rucksacks’ urban design may look like something out of Batman, but you don’t need Bruce Wayne’s money to be able to afford one. The bag boasts Fair Trade credentials; being manufactured in Columbia by disadvantaged people, such as refugees, single mothers and Indians from the Camentsa tribe. Not only does it support development in poorer countries, it helps their waste management issues too.
Junk-metal artist Gabriel Dishaw creates detailed shoe replicas out of discarded metal and his latest Nike-inspired sneakers show incredible attention to detail, including accurate sizing, manufacturer logos, moveable shoe tongues and flexible laces.
Each sneaker is made entirely from recycled metal, from sources such as old typewriters and computer circuit boards. Wire, staples, bolts and screws can all be found in the designs which put style and sculpture over practical footwear. The shoes are named Pentium Blaze 1.0 after the famous Pentium computer chip.
The shoes, which weigh between five and twenty pounds, are held together by a combination of glue and metal bending. Official measurements have been used to make each shoe a size 9.5, though if you were to wear them they would probably make a much bigger statement!
Rooftop wind turbines are traditionally the sort of technology that environmental sceptics love to condemn – ‘noisy’ and ‘eyesore’ being two words that spring to mind. These opinions may soon be outdated thanks to a new design from ‘The Power Collective’.
The long-bladed ‘Ridgeblade’ turbine, which is designed by a former Rolls Royce engineer, sits along the ridge line of a rooftop, taking the place of the ridge tiles. The turbine boasts a slim profile that doesn’t look out of place, whilst its position means that it captures the strongest winds funnelled by the sloping roof shape.
The manufacturers claim that it can produce electricity in low or variable wind conditions, making it a discrete and effective way to cut household or business bills. The lack of visual impact also makes the turbine suitable for many locations, from urban houses to rural buildings.
The turbine is still under development but a recent award of €500,000 from the Dutch Postcode Lottery as the best green invention will surely help bring this product to market. We think it’s a great step forwards for renewable energy, helping to cut down on industrial waste.
If you want to keep your iPhone or iPod in tip-top condition, whilst never having to worry about running out of battery, then this sleek solar-powered Smart Cover could be the answer. Eco-friendly, and able to provide hours of extra talk time, this versatile cover is suitable for everyday wear-and-tear.
The Smart Cover slips over your iPhone or iPod Touch like any other case. However, on the back of the cover is a solar panel which is able to provide up to 390 hours of stand-by time and 9.5 hours of talk time when fully charged. Simply plug in and make sure the solar panel is facing the sun and away you go. A USB connector also means it can be plugged into any laptop giving charge on the move for the busy user. The iPhone doesn’t have a great battery life, so this is a cool little gadget for anyone spending a long time away from a power socket.
We think it’s a great way to cut down on energy use, and it’s pretty stylish too.
Electricity generated by burning woodchips is seen by many as a solution to the world’s future energy needs. The United States is planning 102 woodchip burning power stations to be built in the next few years, with Europe following this lead.
Supporters of woodchip biomass argue that recovering energy from the millions of tonnes of industrial wood scraps reduces landfill, as well as preventing chemically treated timber from contaminating soil and water supplies. They also point out that replacing coal fired power stations with biomass alternatives reduces air pollution and greenhouse gases.
Woodchip fired power stations aren’t the only user of wood fuel; domestic wood burning stoves are growing in popularity and although they use a tiny fraction of the fuel that industrial power stations do, consumers see wood fuel as a ‘green’ alternative to fossil fuels.
However, the growing market for woodchips is likely to outstrip the supply from industrial waste. The power generating companies say that woodchips will also come from sustainable forests. Environmental campaigners argue that this will lead to the creation of ‘monoculture plantations’, particularly in developing countries, where single species trees are grown in straight rows on a large scale, creating an alien environment.
Campaigners have also raised the point that transporting large quantities of timber around the globe, then grinding it into woodchips and burning, may actually lead to greater carbon emissions than would have been created by burning a fossil fuel such as coal.
With worldwide production of woodchips set to double in the next five years from 10 million to 20 million tonnes this is an argument that is of pressing concern.
A new study into the addictive nature of junk food using rats as the test subjects has found that a high fat, high calorie diet led the rodents to binge eat compulsively as they showed worrying signs of addiction.
Neuroscientists at Florida’s Scripps Research Institute carried out the research to investigate evidence which suggests that eating junk food has a similar effect on the brain to drug addiction. Rats were split into three groups and fed different controlled diets, including one group that had access to unlimited amounts of junk food.
When researchers investigated the part of the brain that feels pleasure they discovered that rats on an unlimited junk food diet needed increasing amounts of stimulation to register pleasure, unlike animals on the more controlled diets. This is similar to heroin addicts who require more and more of the drug to get the same satisfaction.
The rats also began binge eating as they craved more and more of the rich food, including chocolate, cheesecake and processed meat products. When the junk food was removed and healthy food introduced many of the rats refused to eat suggesting that the habit was hard to break.
Aside from the health implications, one of the most worrying environmental impacts of processed food is the amount of packaging it comes in. Increased awareness of food waste recycling as well as the effects on our health from studies like the one above are essential to changing our eating habits.
Nothing is what it should be. We learn this lesson at quite an early age. It is true for our families, it is true for our government systems and, undoubtedly, it’s true of our planet. The human race has successfully damaged almost every part of our world – from the flora and fauna to all kinds of relationships.
But nevertheless, there is something we did well. Or at least some of us do well. And that is reminded to us when we buy The 39 Steps tickets and see this masterpiece. Then suddenly hope begins to glow. And if we go even further and grab cheap dream girls tickets, then we realize everything is possible. We just have to keep the faith.
Goethe said that beauty will save the world. But it’s not mere beauty that’s needed for a person’s mind to change. An enchanting story, a convincing performance and much more is needed for a viewer to feel involved. Investing in ragtime tickets for you and your friends you invest in the future of humanity!