Can GreenBelly meal bars power you through an outdoor adventure? We put them to the test

August 14, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

For camping and hiking enthusiasts, deciding what foods to pack for the trip can be tricky. You need to meet your nutritional and energy needs, but space is limited, especially if you are heading out with just a backpack. GreenBelly aims to fill this gap by creating nutrient-dense, plant-based bars that are lightweight yet energy-boosting to get you through your adventure. We tried three different meal bars by GreenBelly to put the flavor and nutritional claims to the test. GreenBelly’s “stoveless backpacking meals” come in small packages that can fit into nearly any side-zipper section of a backpack. The company offers both Meals2Go (in four flavors, three of which we tested) as well as Mud Meals, or powdered drinks that can be added to water (in two flavors, which we did not sample). Where most bars designed for backpackers are meant to be a quick snack to refuel mid-trip, GreenBelly has packed the nutrients of a full meal into its bars. This means staying fuller for longer, creating the opportunity to reach new heights. Related: Get ready for an adventure with this ultimate checklist of backpacking essentials The Meals2Go come in three flavors : dark chocolate and banana, peanut and apricot, cranberry and almond and the brand new mango, cashew and coconut variety. If you really have a sweet tooth, we recommend the dark chocolate and banana flavor. While peanut and apricot might sound a bit offbeat, it tastes like sweetened peanut butter. The cranberry almond option has a generic fruity flavor with a salty aftertaste. We didn’t sample the mango, but it sounds like a refreshing and tropical option. We won’t lie — the flavors aren’t as appealing as some of the mainstream snack protein bars on the market, but these GreenBelly bars include the benefit of more natural ingredients that can fuel you for so much longer. Each package contains exactly one-third of the recommended daily values of everything from calories, fats, sodium, carbohydrates (including fiber and sugar) and protein. They also have impressive (and varying) amounts of iron as well as trace amounts of vitamins A and C and calcium. The nutrients pack a punch, too. Although they are rather high in sugar, the Meals2Go are very filling and equally power you through a long day at the office or a scenic weekend hike. Each package is the rough equivalent to a meal, although we do recommend incorporating other meal options for your travels for variety. While the flavors are unique and satisfying, the nutrient quotients are impressive and the long-lasting provided energy is ideal for exploring. Before you wander off into a long trek with these handy protein bars, there are a couple of things to keep in mind with the GreenBelly Meals2Go. Each package contains two bars, or one meal. This packaging can add up quickly, especially for longer excursions. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear these packages are easily recyclable, if at all. Another thing worth mentioning is that the ingredients list for each flavor includes palm oil , which is an industry well-known for its problematic contributions to deforestation. GreenBelly’s Meals2Go are a convenient, plant-based meal consideration for your next backpacking, hiking or camping trip. Each includes plenty of nutrients to fuel you without the need for cooking on-the-go. But it is important to keep in mind the packaging and the palm oil when comparing these bars to other ready-to-eat meals designed for adventurers to ensure that you choose the fuel that is the best for both you and the planet. + GreenBelly Images via Inhabitat Editor’s Note: This product review is not sponsored by GreenBelly. All opinions on the products and company are the author’s own.

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Can GreenBelly meal bars power you through an outdoor adventure? We put them to the test

This zero-waste espresso machine is powered by human strength

August 12, 2019 by  
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While cafe-worthy espresso machines still lie out of the price range for most people, there are more and more affordable versions hitting the market. Still, many models at all price points either create waste from pods and filters or use a lot of energy — or both. In searching for an option that fulfills our love for coffee without creating waste and consuming a lot of electricity, we found ROK. The ROK espresso maker promises a strong, double shot of espresso with zero-waste and zero-energy needed. After opening the box, we felt pretty intimidated by the machine. It is made from strong, sturdy steel, and is small enough to carry around, but the instructions weren’t incredibly informative. There is also a metal portafilter, which holds the coffee grounds, as well as a plastic coffee scoop that doubles as a tamper, a splitter to turn the double shot into two single shots and a mysterious additional piece that we still do not know its purpose. (If you know, leave us a comment below!) Related: The problem with coffee pods and the eco-friendly alternatives to use instead Luckily for ROK users, the company has an informative YouTube channel, where we found plenty of tutorials as well as helpful tips and tricks to make the best espresso possible. After familiarizing ourselves with the routine, we decided to give it a go. We added fine coffee grounds to the portafilter and tamped it firmly, but not too firmly, using the back of the coffee scoop. Inserting the portafilter into the machine is probably the trickiest part; we recommend squatting down and looking to see where the notches line up to avoid missing and dumping the grounds everywhere (speaking from experience here). After the portafilter is secured in place, make sure your mug is lined up at the bottom under the spout, and add boiling hot water to the black plastic rim at the top of the machine. We found about 100 to 110 mL gave us the perfect amount with enough to pull a thin layer of crema at the top of the cup as well. Pull the arms of the machine up slowly, then push down. If you feel a lot of resistance, don’t push further! The coffee might be tamped in too much, and forcing the arms down could cause the water to burn you. If the arms are moving with just slight pressure, you are doing it correctly. Push slowly, and the water will run through the portafilter and espresso will pour into your mug. After the arms are all the way down, feel free to pull the arms up and push down one more time to get rid of any excess water and to pull crema. If you want to create two single shots of espresso (a great way to take a quick break with coworkers!), simply attach the clear, plastic splitter to the end of the portafilter after it has been secured into the machine. Place an espresso mug under the end of each side of the splitter, and operate as usual. After our trial run, we were so surprised at how easy it was to use the ROK espresso maker. We simply composted the used grounds, wiped the machine and portafilter down and it was ready to go for the next round of espresso. We love it so much, in fact, that we use it multiple times a week. It makes a strong cup of espresso, it is a breeze to use, it is quiet (so we aren’t disturbing the people working around us) and it is quick to clean. It also is small enough to fit on a desk. Prices vary depending on where you purchase ROK, but it costs about $160-180 USD. The company sells bundles on its website that include the machine as well as a milk frother, coffee and more. Although the plastic parts do feel sturdy, if they happen to break, ROK sells small replacement kits as well, so you can service your machine and get the coffee breaks you deserve for years to come. + ROK Images via Inhabitat Editor’s Note: This product review is not sponsored by ROK. All opinions on the products and company are the author’s own.

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This zero-waste espresso machine is powered by human strength

We tested the GoSun Go solar oven heres what we thought

April 22, 2019 by  
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The idea of cooking a delicious meal just by using the power of the sun is enticing, and GoSun Go is making it happen with its line of solar ovens. We’ve talked about the design before and checked them out at CES , but it wasn’t until recently that we were able to get our hands on one of these bad boys to test it out. From veggie burgers and baked sweet potato to mixed-berry muffins, coffee and oatmeal, we tried cooking a wide variety of foods in this portable, solar-powered oven. Here’s what happened . Setting up the GoSun Go When we removed the GoSun Go from the box, we were a little surprised by how simple it looked. It features a basic fabric case plus a plastic kickstand that admittedly felt a bit flimsy. The glass tube, however, was sturdy, and we liked the small silicone molds that hold food for easy clean-up. Cooking in the cold We scheduled to cook outside on what was supposed to be a warm, sunny day. In a surprising twist, especially for L.A. , we ended up with a chilly breeze and rain. Still, we trekked outside, solar oven tucked under an arm, and set up to boil water to make instant coffee and banana nut oatmeal. The trick to heating liquids in the GoSun Go is to stand the oven up vertically using the plastic kickstand attachment. It is also important to try to line the oven up with the sun, which was of course hard on a mostly cloudy day. During one of our rounds of gently rotating the oven for more light, the kickstand did give out — the plastic attachment is not very sturdy. Related: GoSun unveils solar cooker that lets you serve up some sizzling meals at night After about 100 or so minutes, condensation was visible on the glass and the water was nearly hot. Granted, we did this in cloudy, rainy weather, so it makes sense that it took so long. Still, it did make the water hot enough to make coffee and oatmeal that were both tolerable; the oatmeal was a bit chewy, but it did cook a little bit from the water we had warmed up in the solar cooker. If you were camping, hiking or participating in some other outdoor adventure, the GoSun Go is not your best bet in clouds and rain. While it does work, be ready to set an hour or more aside, as it takes a lot of time. Luckily, in optimal conditions, the GoSun Go is really impressive. Putting the solar oven through the ultimate tests Our next set of tests took place on a warm, sunny SoCal day. We had multiple ovens, so we decided to test as many foods as possible, from fresh and frozen veggies , to savory, plant-based proteins and sweet, berry-flavored muffins. In one oven, we tested a frozen veggie patty in one silicone mold, and fresh sweet potatoes and frozen broccoli and cauliflower in the other. In the second oven, to appease some of the meat-eaters with us, we tested ground beef in one mold and fresh broccoli and canned corn in another. For the last oven, we placed two silicone molds full of instant berry muffin mix (which just required water, an easy treat to make while camping ). Each oven can hold two of the silicone molds at once. After about 25 minutes, the muffins had risen considerably, and there was condensation on the inside of the ovens’ glass tubes. We also noticed around this time that the light breeze was enough to topple the ovens, knocking them away from the sun. Related: How to make a meal out of leftover veggies At the 34-minute mark, the muffins were just about ready to eat. The frozen veggies were done cooking, and the sweet potato was close to being finished. The veggie patty needed a bit longer, and the beef was brown but not finished either. We also rotated the ovens at this point for more direct sunlight. We checked everything again at one hour, and it was all cooked! Some things, of course, were a bit overcooked at this point. There was some charring (the tasty kind), and it all smelled delicious. The gross part, though, is that the beef juices leaked out onto the cloth carrier, which was quite difficult to remove. Taste tests As far as taste goes, we were impressed. The veggies, whether frozen, fresh or canned, were all soft and delicious. Some of the broccoli and potatoes had nice charring for extra flavor, similar to roasting veggies in a standard oven. The veggie patty was a bit dry on the outside, likely from overcooking on our part, but the inside was a little wet. It didn’t seem to cook evenly in this regard. The muffins were pretty yummy despite being a little dry. Many of the items we tested were chosen based on the booklet included with the GoSun Go. This booklet offers expected cook times for many types of food, which we found were a tad optimistic, yet not completely off. Another claim of this solar oven is that it can hold six hot dogs. After getting a look at the GoSun Go, we thought, “No way! Too small!”…So naturally, we put it to the test. Guess what? You really can cook for a crowd, even with this small oven, because we were able to jam six hot dogs into it. It wasn’t easy, but it can be done. We placed the oven under a bright, full sun, and they should have taken 10 minutes to cook. After 30 minutes, they were darker, but our resident meat-eater found that they really could have stayed in for even longer. If you wanted to try just one or two hot dogs, they would probably cook in 10-15 minutes, but jamming six into the tube does require quite a bit more time. Final thoughts All in all, the GoSun Go is pretty impressive. If you have access to a traditional oven or a campfire, we’d recommend cooking through those means. But the solar oven is handy, especially for times when you are hiking, camping or boating and you cannot start a fire. We also plan to take it to the beach! If you need to cook a lot of food, you might try checking out a bigger solar oven, as this model can only make a small batch of food at a time. For $139 a pop, it also might not be practical to purchase multiple. For solo trips, this can cook some pretty complex, flavorful meals that you might not otherwise be able to enjoy. We say — give it a go! + GoSun Images via GoSun

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We tested the GoSun Go solar oven heres what we thought

This beekeepers workshop uses sustainable design to minimize its footprint

April 22, 2019 by  
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In a bid to save northern Brazil’s rainforests from deforestation and land exploitation, São Paulo-based architecture firm Estudio Flume has recently completed Casa do Mel, a beekeepers workshop that serves as a self-sustainable business alternative to logging operations. Located in the Canaã dos Carajás in the Pará Estate of Brazil, the workshop serves a co-operative of beekeepers formed by 53 rural producers. To reduce site impact, the building follows passive solar principles and incorporates a variety of sustainable strategies such as a bio-digester and a rainwater harvesting system. Set on a steeply sloped site, Casa do Mel deftly navigates the 23-foot height difference with a concrete slab suspended on piers, a more cost-effective solution to the more conventional ground works approach. Elevating the building also helps to naturally ventilate the interior; the raised double-layered roof (slab and corrugated metal sheeting) and perforated walls made of concrete blocks backed with insect mesh also bring cooling cross-breezes into the workspace. The long roof overhang provides shade and protection from the harsh Brazilian sun. “The orientation of the Casa do Mel was designed with consideration to the local climate, prioritizing the thermal comfort and natural lighting of the workspace,” the architects explain of the 2,583-square-foot building. “The most permanent premises, such as the container and process rooms for honey, were located facing East to get the early morning sunlight.” Related: Flow Hive lets beekeepers harvest honey without disturbing the bees To responsibly handle gray water , the architects planted a circle of banana trees (Circulo de bananeiras) that uses the root system to treat the water and prevent soil contamination. Organic waste is treated in a bio-digester where it is turned into fertilizer and organic compost. The butterfly roof helps facilitate the collection of rainwater, which is used for non-potable uses such as flushing toilets. + Estudio Flume Images via Estudio Flume

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This beekeepers workshop uses sustainable design to minimize its footprint

Lather is the PETA-approved skincare that reminds us all to slow down

February 22, 2019 by  
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From its natural ingredients to its carbon-neutral operations and its eco-friendly packaging, you’re going to want to lather up with Lather. First spied by Inhabitat at this year’s Indie Beauty Expo, Lather’s long line of sustainable skincare products have made themselves a new home in our medicine cabinets. Founded in 1999, Lather was started by Emilie Hoyt after she battled with migraines — which were partially caused by the harmful ingredients found in conventional skincare and cosmetics. Hoyt is an “explorer at heart” with a deep appreciation for nature, so she drew upon this passion when creating a wellness brand that emphasizes natural ingredients while also keeping the planet in mind at every stage of production. Related: These are our favorite beauty retailers from the Indie Beauty Expo In addition to using ingredients straight from nature, Lather does not test on animals, nor does it work with manufacturers that do. Furthering its commitment to sustainability, Lather is a carbon-neutral company that uses EcoPure, recycled materials and soy-based inks in all of its packaging. As if that wasn’t enough to love, Lather also supports eco-focused charities such as the Baobab Guardians Program, which “employs and empowers women and works hard to ensure the survival of the oldest trees on Earth.” It’s hard to narrow down the products to our favorites, but we must say that the bamboo lemongrass body scrub is one of the most popular Lather products for good reason. The scrub has become an essential part of our showering routine — the scrub suds up to cleanse you while also gently exfoliating skin and emitting a really pleasant, natural fragrance. Follow this up with the matching body lotion for a refreshing scent that invigorates you and a moisturizer that leaves your freshly exfoliated skin at its softest. Along the lines of keeping your skin happy and hydrated, we recommend keeping Lather’s Hand Therapy with you at all times. This restorative lotion is made with shea, oats and olive. The scent is earthy in a pleasant way, and the cream helps relieve cracked hands and dry cuticles. Lather also offers a multitude of face cleansers that target various skin concerns, from dryness to oily textures and sensitivity to blemishes. There are also different formulas, such as gels, creams, oils, and soap bars. We tested the Ultra Mild Face Wash. It’s a powerful cleanser that removes makeup with ease without leaving skin feeling dry or tight. We weren’t in love with the smell, but we didn’t hate it, either. We followed this face wash with the Ultra Light Face Lotion, which doesn’t have much of a scent to it. It was perfect for a daily moisturizer — hydrating enough to banish dryness, but light enough to wear all day without feeling heavy or greasy. Overall wellness is a prime factor behind all of Lather’s products, which is why the company developed a gel based pain reliever for muscle aches and pain. The gel provides temporary pain relief with formulated herbal extracts used by the native tribes of Northern Mexico. The gel is incredibly fast acting once its massaged onto joints or muscles and has a lingering cooling and heating effect that is felt almost instantly thanks to the menthol, camphor and capsaicin in the product. While the scent is powerful, it’s not overbearing and definitely worth it as this gel can quickly alleviate pain. We have made this our go-to pain relieving gel. While Lather is designed to enjoy at home as its own act of self care, the company’s passion for wellness extends in-store, too. From free Pamper Parties for groups to indulge in an afternoon of natural  skincare to relaxation stations with cozy seating and “5-minute stories” from a machine that offers short stories for guests to read, Lather encourages clients to take a moment to breathe and enjoy each passing moment. The brand’s ethos to care about yourself and the environment is evident through and through. + Lather Images via Inhabitat Editor’s Note: This product review is not sponsored by Lather. All opinions on the products and company are the author’s own.

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Lather is the PETA-approved skincare that reminds us all to slow down

Meet the all-natural face cleanser that will change your mornings

February 19, 2019 by  
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Most people wouldn’t mind starting the day with a bowl of warm, sweet oatmeal. So imagine taking that level of comfort and adding it to your skincare routine. This is exactly the kind of experience you get with Speak’s cleansing powder, a simple powder that comes packaged in an adorable glass jar. The best part of “01 Cleansing Powder” is the main ingredient, organic oats. After testing the cleanser for a few weeks, this product has become one of our favorite ways to start our day. Speak’s cleansing powder harnesses the power of saponins and antioxidants found in organic oats. Together, these properties gently cleanse the delicate skin on your face and soothe redness and irritation. In addition to the oats, lavender adds a natural fragrance, kaolin clay cleans deeper to remove dirt and grime and sweet almond oil leaves your skin soft and moisturized long after you’ve finished washing. Related: These are our favorite beauty retailers from the Indie Beauty Expo In a nod to “waterless beauty,” or beauty products that eliminate water as a filler, this natural cleanser comes as a powder in a 0.5 or 2 ounce glass jar (complete with a metal cap — all reusable and recyclable!). A little goes a long way here. Each morning, we add just a dime-size amount of the powder in the palm of our hands. Carefully mix in just a few drops of water to make a thick paste, and then gently rub it on your face. We like to move in upward motions, which can help with lymphatic drainage. It’s incredible — the cleanser smells exactly like our favorite bowl of oatmeal. After rinsing the paste from your skin, you’ll instantly notice how soft and smooth your face feels. While it doesn’t seem to be the right consistency for removing eye makeup, it does move face makeup with ease. It works well for cleansing in the morning or at night. Speak’s line of natural, vegan , cruelty-free skincare (plus clean packaging) doesn’t stop there. We have also tested the natural deodorant, which is incredibly effective at keeping odors at bay, and the prickly pear seed oil, which boosts the moisture in your skin and smells light and pleasant. If all of this isn’t enough to love, Speak is transparent about ingredients, sources and manufacturing. “We believe that when you are smarter about what goes into your skincare, you’re on your way to feeling and being your best,” the website reads. “We will continue to be fully transparent with our ingredients and test our products in independent labs with your safety in mind.” Founders and cousins Mutiara Pino and Nisa Zulkifli founded Speak in December 2017 after battling with ever-changing, hormonal skin and eczema, respectively. Their mission is to provide clean skincare using natural ingredients from ethical sources in reusable, recyclable, upcycled and/or compostable packaging at affordable price points. We highly recommend checking out Speak’s skincare, starting with the oat-based cleanser. See more products here , and learn more about the company’s values here . + Speak Images via Inhabitat and Speak Editor’s Note: This product review is not sponsored by Speak. All opinions on the products and company are the author’s own.

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Meet the all-natural face cleanser that will change your mornings

This lightweight, soda can-sized air purifier destroys mold, VOCs and odors

May 30, 2018 by  
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Did you know that indoor air pollution can be as bad as or worse than outdoor air pollution? From off-gassing chemicals in paints to mold and dust, the contaminated air inside our homes and offices negatively impacts our health and can lead to fatigue and dizziness, or even respiratory diseases in the long-term. Fortunately, air purification technology has improved in recent years to offer easy and affordable ways to combat indoor air pollutants. Read on to see our review of one such product, the Luft Qi , an on-the-go and filter-free air purifier billed as the smallest of its kind in the world. About Luft Qi Developed by Taiwanese company Titus & Wayne, the Luft Qi air purifier is described as the “first compact air purifier using nanotechnology.” The air purifier uses a method called photocatalytic oxidation (PCO), a technology originally invented by NASA to prevent food spoilage — for instance, by removing bacteria in meat or pesticides from fruits and vegetables — and has since been applied to air purification. Here’s how it works: broad-spectrum ultraviolet light — Luft Qi uses UV-A LEDs  — is combined with a tungsten oxide modified titanium oxide (TiO2) filter to create highly reactive oxidizers that break down harmful molecular-sized and microbial pollutants. Luft Qi isn’t the first to use PCO technology for air purification; followers of Ellen DeGeneres might remember her shout-out to the Airocide PCO air purifiers on her show in 2013. Advantages of Luft Qi Unlike Airocide, however, Luft Qi is much smaller and more compact. Made of aluminum , the soda can-shaped device only weighs 160 grams and its modern design, available in six different colors, means it probably won’t clash with your existing setup. Moreover, since Luft Qi only uses PCO, the device is conveniently filter-free, meaning that you’ll never need to buy or replace the filter. When plugged in, Luft Qi will gently draw air in through its perforated base, where pollutants are then broken down through photocatalytic oxidation. The purified air is then pushed through the top, with carbon dioxide and water molecules as byproducts. PCO technology has also proven effective at removing ultra fine particulates, airborne mold spores and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as formaldehyde and exhaust fumes. Luft Qi is designed for on-the-go convenience and comes with a standard 3.3-foot-long USB-C to USB-A cable that can plug into a laptop or any USB port adapter outlet. The startup says that the device can be safely used 24 hours a day and attribute its minimal electricity demands of 2.5W to an energy-efficient design. The air purifier uses a hidden brushless fan — the same as those used for computer servers — with a measurable noise level of around 25 decibels, which isn’t very quiet, but isn’t loud enough to be distracting either; it is quieter than most air purifiers. Luft Qi is estimated to last at least 4.5 years without replacement. Disadvantages of Luft Qi Despite Luft Qi’s many benefits, there are several downsides to the product. Firstly, since Luft Qi only uses PCO technology instead of filters, the device cannot remove larger particulates like traditional devices with HEPA filters can. This means Luft Qi will not eliminate pollen, dust, dust mites or pet dander, which are among the major contributors to poor indoor air quality and allergies. Due to its small size, Luft Qi also requires a long time to achieve desirable results and is best used in contained rooms such as bedrooms or car interiors. And while Luft Qi does eliminate odors, it also does so at a fairly slow rate; carbon filters are a better choice for odor removal. Moreover, PCO technology produces carbon dioxide as a byproduct. While the amount produced is likely small, those who want to keep Luft Qi turned on 24 hours a day will need to introduce adequate ventilation. Speaking of constant use, Luft Qi’s PCO technology also has its drawbacks for those hoping to sleep with it plugged in at night. While the constant fan noise can be dismissed as white noise, the device’s bright blue light can be distracting in an otherwise dark room. Putting Luft Qi on the ground isn’t a good option either; the air purifier should be elevated above the floor since it relies on the surrounding environment’s air circulation to work optimally. Should You Buy Luft Qi? Overall, Luft Qi isn’t the best air purifier given its small size and the limitations of PCO technology. If you really want to get rid of indoor air pollution, it’s best to use PCO technology in conjunction with air purifiers with filters. Luft Qi’s relatively steep price may also put buyers off. However, if you’re mainly interested in removing VOCs, microbial pollutants, odors and mold spores in small, contained environments, Luft Qi is a good choice. This particularly holds true in small offices or rooms in tropical and humid environments where mold is an ever-present concern, like Taiwan, where the Luft Qi startup is based. Furthermore, the product is nicely designed, well-constructed and doesn’t become hot to the touch. Titus & Wayne launched Luft Qi on Indiegogo in a successful crowdfunding campaign that’s since raised more than $215,000. From now until mid-June, Luft Qi is available for $99 , not including shipping, in an early-bird special with an estimated delivery in July 2018. The product’s regular retail price is $169. + Luft Qi Images via Luft Qi

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This lightweight, soda can-sized air purifier destroys mold, VOCs and odors

Product Review: Inhabitat tests out the Honeywell Lyric WiFi Thermostat

August 31, 2016 by  
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Honeywell’s Lyric Wifi Thermostat is a smartphone-connected device that allows you to regulate the temperature of your home while you’re there or on-the-go. Because you can control it via the Lyric app , it gives you the flexibility to start cooling your place down as you leave the office on a hot day, or to shut the system down from 30,000 feet in the air if you forget to switch it off before leaving to catch your plane. Like other programmable thermostats, it can be set up on a schedule so that it maintains a comfortable temperature during the times you’re usually at home while switching the system off during times you’re not. There’s also a handy geofencing feature that allows you to map off a radius around your home so that the system can detect that you’re nearby using your phone’s GPS system and start heating or cooling your home to your preferred temperature. A thermostat that knows when you’re almost home? That’s pretty cool! RELATED: VIDEO: How to save money and energy with a programmable thermostat Design-wise, the Honeywell Lyric WiFi Thermostat is one of the most visually pleasing models on the market, although you have to admit that its round form factor does look pretty similar to the Nest’s (a competitor that rings in at about $50 more at $249). On the other hand, it should be noted that Honeywell came up with the first round thermostat way back in 1953, so maybe they’re just getting back to their roots. With a pristine white face wrapped in a sliver of silver, the unit is almost like an artpiece or accessory for your wall. The minimal touchscreen buttons light up in a cool blue, giving it an even more soothing appearance. In the box: The unit itself, a battery, two screws and anchors for mounting, instructions and an optional wall plate. Setting the device up was a breeze, although I should note that since I live in an apartment with no existing in-unit thermostat system, I was unable to actually install the thermostat as you would if you were actually going to use it to control your heater and air conditioner. Instead, I simulated the installation process using a wall adapter, so this part of my review is based solely on the ease of setup, rather than how the device actually regulated the temperature in my home. The first steps are downloading the Lyric app and connecting to your WiFi, and after that, your phone guides you through the entire setup and installation process. Although I wasn’t fiddling with any wiring or anything like that, I was still able to appreciate the step-by-step instructions that popped up right on my phone to guide me through the installation process if I was. It even asks you questions along the way so that you can tailor the experience to your particular system, taking the hassle out of fumbling with an instruction manual and leafing through the parts that may or may not apply to you. The whole thing took me about 5 minutes to complete (though you would probably need to spend at least 20 if you were actually following the steps). One thing I did find was that the touchscreen buttons were not quite as responsive as I wanted them to be and I had to press down harder than I’m used to doing on my smartphone. Luckily, there’s not much need to use the buttons on the unit itself after setup since you can just use your phone to make any changes, or simply rotate the face of the unit clockwise or counterclockwise to turn your temps up or down. The Lyric app itself is intuitive, easy-to-use and starts up in a matter of moments. The Lyric WiFi Thermostat is also fully compatible with Apple HomeKit, Samsung SmartThings, Amazon Echo and other home ecosystems. In terms of energy and cost savings, Honeywell’s energy savings calculator estimates that I stand to save about $142 per year on my energy bill (based on my zip code) using the Lyric WiFi Thermostat. That means that in addition to keeping my home comfortable and reducing my power usage, I could also make back the $199 spent on the Lyric Thermostat in a little over a year. To learn more about how the Lyric Wifi Thermostat can help you slash your energy bills, check out the video above or visit Honeywell’s Lyric Connected Home website here . + Honeywell Lyric WiFi Thermostat Editor’s note: The Honeywell Lyric WiFi Thermostat was supplied to this writer free-of-charge by Honeywell in exchange for an unbiased review. Photos: Honeywell and Yuka Yoneda

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Product Review: Inhabitat tests out the Honeywell Lyric WiFi Thermostat

Product Review: The Nubagg Lets You Smartly Reuse Your Plastic Bags As a Garbage Can

November 12, 2012 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

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Garbage cans belong to that group of mundane household items that have been around for so long that it seems there really isn’t much that can be done to improve on their design. Or so we thought. Industrial designer Arnold Castro recently introduced us to the Nubagg , and at first glance, we could hardly tell that it was a trash receptacle at all. With no walls or sides, Castro’s design basically consists of what he calls a “freakishly lightweight” metal frame that is used as a support for the plastic bags you bring home from the supermarket. We were very interested in the Nubagg ‘s extremely minimalist design and the way it encourages reuse, so we decided to take it for a test drive to see how well it would stand up to our trash. Read on for our full review. The beauty of the Nubagg is that it allows you to save money by substituting plastic bags you get at the store for garbage bags. But since we already do that (using regular trash cans), we weren’t quite sure what the added benefits might be. Upon checking it out more carefully, we realized that its design, which features two protruding bars for you to sling your bag handles over, solves one of our biggest pet peeves – when the sides of our bags cave in and we have to reach into the muck to readjust them. We also noticed that we had to take the garbage out less with the Nubagg because it can be filled up to the full capacity of each bag and is not restricted by walls. If you’ve ever picked up a full-looking trash bag to go throw it out and realized that there was still a lot of room in the bag itself, you’ll see why it’s better to use each bag to its full capacity. The one precaution we did have about the Nubagg was that it probably should not be used with just one bag unless you’re only trashing dry goods. Double or triple bagging is a better idea, especially in the kitchen, but the upside to this is that the Nubagg can do double duty as a plastic bag storage unit. Just keep all of your bags on there and when the top few are full, throw them (and the trash) away to reveal clean bags underneath. In addition to being a vehicle for the reuse and recycling of bags, the Nubagg is, itself, recycled. The body is made of 100% recycled metal and weighs about 1 lb., cutting down on the fuel needed to ship it. The box it’s shipped in is also recycled. If you’re interested in getting your hands on your own modern Nubagg , they recently launched an Indiegogo campaign where your contribution of $20 will not only help you get this product off the ground, but also score you a Nubagg Classic (or a Nubagg mini for $15) just in time for the holidays. + Nubagg + Preorder your Nubagg here

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Product Review: The Nubagg Lets You Smartly Reuse Your Plastic Bags As a Garbage Can

PRODUCT REVIEW: We Try Out Water-Saving Vege Aqua Fruit and Vegetable Wash

February 10, 2012 by  
Filed under Green

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If you’ve been trying to incorporate more fruits and veggies into your diet but find washing them to be a chore, Vege Aqua is a new product that might make it feel like less cumbersome. Unlike other produce washes that contain a long list of ingredients like oleic acid, glycerol, ethyl alcohol or potassium hydrate, Vege Aqua is 99.7% water and 0.3% anion (negatively charged ions). In addition to making it easier to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, we were also interested in how Vege Aqua requires much less water to be used to get your food clean. We recently tried out this handy spray for ourselves – read on to see what we thought. Read the rest of PRODUCT REVIEW: We Try Out Water-Saving Vege Aqua Fruit and Vegetable Wash Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: bacteria on fruits , clean vegetables , e.coli , fruit and veggie wash , fruit rinse , fruit wash , inhabitat review , produce wash , vege aqua , vegetable wash , wash produce

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PRODUCT REVIEW: We Try Out Water-Saving Vege Aqua Fruit and Vegetable Wash

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