This lovely lampshade is made from cabbage

January 10, 2020 by  
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Lighting can set the tone of a room, so a lamp with a natural and compostable lampshade can create a cozy, gorgeous and sustainable setting. In a partnership between Indian designer Vaidehi Thakkar and London-based Nir Meiri Studio, Veggie Lights are just that — lampshades made out of red cabbage leaves that lend a warm glow to any space. A testament to the duo’s dedication to exploring and highlighting sustainable options, Veggie Lights offer a useful and elegant decor option straight from the garden. To create the lampshades, Thakkar developed the process of converting vegetables into a paper-like substance called Fiber Flats. Meiri joined the project with a passion for using organic materials, as seen from previous successes in using both mycelium and seaweed to make lampshades. Related: Algae Lamps are a work of art and natural shade in one Each lampshade in the Veggie Lights line is unique, a result of the natural variations in the leaves. Cabbage leaves may not be in the spotlight for intrinsic beauty, but through the process of separating the leaves and soaking them in a water-based color preservative, the originality of each leaf begins to shine through. The leaves are then shaped and left to dry in high temperatures, so all of the moisture evaporates. At this point, the leaves are either left unfinished, or the edges are trimmed and contoured into a gentle downward curve. The design of Veggie Lights places the bulb and electrical parts in a simple and streamlined base. This allows the light to shine upward into the shade, illuminating the natural veins and color variations in the cabbage leaf. Because the lampshades are naturally biodegradable, they will age and are meant to eventually be replaced. However, the base is long-lasting, so you can replace the shade at the end of its life for a refreshed look without producing waste . + Nir Meiri Studio + Vaidehi Thakkar Via Dezeen Image via Nir Meiri Studios

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This lovely lampshade is made from cabbage

This durable, recyclable cooler is made from bamboo, wool, steel and aluminum

December 5, 2019 by  
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Coolers are a part of every camping trip and fishing excursion, because they are a convenient and necessary tool for keeping freshly caught fish cold or frosty beverages close at hand. The problem is that modern coolers are mostly made from plastic and polyurethane foam , materials that are costly for the planet from production to post-consumer waste. Now, husband and wife duo David Nomura and Brook McLeod at Wool Street, LLC have designed a completely recyclable cooler with practicality and sustainability in mind. Called the Wooly Mammoth, this cooler strives to solve the problem of trashed coolers filling landfills, where they remain for generations. The cooler uses stainless steel and aluminum for the main body, tray and hardware; both of these materials are completely recyclable. The handles use bamboo, a renewable resource that is also 100 percent recyclable . Perhaps the stand-out feature separating the Wooly Mammoth from nearly every other cooler on the market is the use of natural wool as an insulator. The wool can be added to any backyard compost when it is time to part ways with the Wooly Mammoth. After years of wear and tear, the cooler is easy to disassemble with nothing more than a screwdriver and a crescent wrench. Related: Mobile cooler designed by 22-year-old Will Broadway could save 1.5 million lives Although each material is recyclable, sustainable product design also requires durability and superior functionality for long-term use. With this in mind, the Wooly Mammoth team thoughtfully planned the components for functionality and efficiency. A bamboo cutting board is built into the hinged lid. Designed to open like a tackle box, the entire lid lifts out of the way without disrupting food sitting on the cutting board. The hinges are removable for easy cleaning when necessary. Because coolers need to be portable for picnics in the park, tailgating during football season and year-round camping, the Wooly Mammoth weighs less than 20 pounds, yet it has a 52-quart capacity and can hold up to 78 12-ounce cans. The estimated ice retention is three days. The Wooly Mammoth campaign launched on Kickstarter on November 29. Backers can receive up to a 30 percent discount off the final retail price. + Wooly Mammoth Images via Wooly Mammoth

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This durable, recyclable cooler is made from bamboo, wool, steel and aluminum

SunUp is a solar panel system perfect for hikers and adventurers

November 14, 2019 by  
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Hikers and outdoor enthusiasts can finally enjoy a solar panel that combines efficiency and durability with the added ability to fit snugly on top of a backpack. Rather than having to decide between a power source that is either efficient or durable, the SunUp is both, meaning it can power explorers through nearly any adventure. Invented by Bradley Brister in collaboration with The North Face, SunUp was designed as a final-year project for his Product Design Engineering bachelor’s course at Brunel University. The project was honored at the James Dyson Awards, where it was one of two runners up in the U.K. division of the contest. The awards recognize designs by current and recent engineering students from around the world. Related: Get ready for an adventure with this ultimate checklist of backpacking essentials According to Brister, the main focus of the project was to prove a more efficient and sturdier alternative to flexible solar panels . In the past, hikers looking to go off the grid had to choose between efficiency or durability. Rigid solar panels made of monocrystalline and polycrystalline silicone are 21 percent more efficient yet easily breakable, while flexible panels made with amorphous silicone are stronger but with 7 percent average efficiency. The SunUp solution was to incorporate small, thin-film polycrystalline solar panels with an advanced hinge mechanism. The metal hinges have the system circuits built-in, so the conductive joints won’t strain or harden as the panels are used over time. The segmented panels are able to move more freely when impacted or dropped, lessening the chance of breakage while simultaneously boosting efficiency. According to Brister, each module is interlinked by a conductive hinge that doesn’t produce any mechanical deformation when in use, eliminating the typical issue of solar panels that bend only a few thousand times before eventually snapping. Theoretically, the design can be flexed and bent indefinitely or until the surfaces wear down. The panels easily fit on top of a backpack but could also be mounted onto a canoe or any number of surfaces. If one of the panels breaks, it can be replaced without replacing the entire system, adding to the product’s sustainability and longevity. The 15W panel uses a 4000 mAh battery that fully charges within 12 hours. + SunUp Via Dezeen Images via Bradley Brister

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SunUp is a solar panel system perfect for hikers and adventurers

Stroodles lets you eat your straw

October 21, 2019 by  
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Now you can one-up your most eco-conscious friends. Instead of composting your straw after you finish your drink, now, you can just eat it. Stroodles , a new straw made out of pasta, solves the ethical straw problem. Made in Italy, the pasta straws are made out of only two ingredients: durum wheat and water. So vegans are in luck, but people with Celiac disease aren’t. Other than a possible starchy taste, Stroodles are flavorless. If you choose not to eat your Stroodle, it will decompose in days rather than a month, like a paper straw, or never, like a plastic straw. Stroodles are stronger than paper straws, lasting up to an hour or two in a cold drink without getting soggy. But don’t use a Stroodle in a hot drink, as it will turn into an ordinary noodle. Related: Tooth: the eco-friendly toothbrush made from recycled and biodegradable materials The UK-based company donates a share of sales to Ocean Plastic, an organization fighting plastic waste, and other charities. When they arrive from the supplier, workers manually sort the pasta straws. Those deemed imperfect or inferior are donated to food banks through City Harvest and, presumably, turned into spaghetti . According to the Stroodles website, “With Stroodles, you don’t have to change behaviours and compromise on your drinking experience. By stroodling your drink , you can do good, the easy way. We call this ‘drink-easy.’” Americans alone use about 500 million plastic straws per day. Around the world, countries, states and cities are banning single-use plastics, including straws. Stroodles has picked the right moment to turn the world on to pasta straws. As they claim, “Stroodles is not just another straw company! Stroodles is a movement. Stroodles is here to help fight plastic waste and straws are just our first channel of choice. We want to inspire the world and show how easy it is to do good – with just one Stroodle at a time.” + Stroodles Images via Stroodles

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Stroodles lets you eat your straw

Taiga launches Orca, a 100% electric jet ski with a two-hour battery

September 30, 2019 by  
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Canadian company Taiga Motors, the creators of the world’s first electric snowmobiles, makes yet another splash in the luxury electric vehicle world with Orca , their first electric personal watercraft. Featuring full carbon fiber hull construction, the luxury jet ski forgoes gasoline in favor of a 23kWh battery that provides energy for up to two hours and can be charged by a regular outlet, standard automotive chargers and DC fast charging. The high-performance electric jet ski will also be fitted with a color integrated digital display for intelligent connectivity via built-in GPS mapping, LTE, wifi and bluetooth. Unveiled on Toronto’s waterfront earlier this month, Taiga Motors’ Orca measures 9.5 feet in length, 3.9 feet in width and 3 feet in height. The personal watercraft clocks in at just under 600 pounds ready to drive and up to 180 horsepower available with instant torque — one of the highest power to weight ratios in the industry, says the firm. Orca also boasts impressive acceleration with a top speed of up to 65 miles per hour and a sub-five millisecond response time. The approximately 125-kilogram lithium-ion battery runs on an automotive standard system voltage of 400 volts and is sealed and vibration isolated to ensure safety even under high shock loads, high humidity environments and temporary submersion. Related: Electric-powered X Shore boats combine sustainability with luxury Scandinavian design In addition to its quiet yet powerful electric engine, the craft heightens the ride experience with a new suspended “floating” seat design made possible by the absence of a combustion engine. According to Taiga Motors, the seat offers the lowest center of gravity of any personal watercraft for improved stability and precision carving on the water. The Orca’s streamlined form is matched with a sleek digital display that can be controlled from the dashboard or the connected app.  Taiga Motors plans to only produce a total of 500 Orca units, with the first one hundred badged as Foundation Edition models with “exclusive design elements and high-performance packages.” The first one hundred models will begin at $28,000 and be delivered to North American customers in summer 2020. Four hundred Orcas will be priced at $24,000 and available to customers shortly after summer 2020. Taiga also has plans to create more electric personal watercraft — priced below $14,000 — in the future. + Taiga Motors Orca

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Taiga launches Orca, a 100% electric jet ski with a two-hour battery

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

MASS Design crowns a 1920s houseboat with a timber luxury lookout

August 12, 2019 by  
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After meticulously renovating a 1920s houseboat into a home for two, a pair of clients reached out to multidisciplinary studio MASS Design to craft the houseboat’s crowning achievement — a bespoke interior for the old wheel house at the top of the boat. The clients asked for a bold interior that would match the wheel house’s spectacular 360-degree views over the harbor. Taking inspiration from the water, the designers created The Lighthouse, a sculptural and multifunctional space defined by an organic, wave-like bench and ceiling structure made from CNC-milled timber panels that were assembled into modules without any screws or glue. In its heyday, the early 20th-century houseboat originally served as a day cruise on the rivers and canals of Eastern Germany with an estimated max capacity of 700 people. Today, the houseboat is stationed on the waters of Amsterdam, where it’s become a new home for two people. Having saved the old, 10-square-meter wheel house as the last piece of their renovation project, the clients emphasized their desire for a striking design with “the boldness of an art piece.” Related: A solar-powered houseboat designed for the water-loving adventurer The wave-like design that MASS Design created makes the most of the room’s small footprint and efficiently carves out space for a writing shack , reading room and champagne bar — all while keeping focus on the surrounding 360-degree views of the harbor. “The interior mimics the waves it used to travel on, undulating throughout the room,” said MASS Design designers Krishna Duddumpudi and Henry Roberts. “Everything flows together; seating to tables, tables to walls, creating one continuous surface in which even the ceiling participates.” A total of 648 individual vertical wooden panels were CNC milled, processed and assembled to form the organic bench and ceiling structure modules without screws or glue at Contact Makerspace in Amsterdam. The modular design allowed the designers and clients to easily and quickly install the pieces into the room without a builder. A voice-activated and app-controlled LED “sun-light” was installed at the center of the room, which makes the space glow like a lighthouse at night. + MASS Design Photography by Maylan van der Grift via MASS Design

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MASS Design crowns a 1920s houseboat with a timber luxury lookout

Sustainable toiletries packaged in soap aim to eliminate single-use plastics

July 15, 2019 by  
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Single-use plastic may be the biggest issue of our time, but admittedly, it’s sometimes an uphill battle to find alternatives. But now, when it comes to finding sustainable toiletries, there’s a eco-friendly option. Already well-known for innovative and sustainable designs, Mi Zhou has just unveiled Soapack, a collection of sustainable shampoo packaging made out of soap. Personal care products often come in mass-produced plastic containers that have a fairly short lifespan, requiring multiple purchases throughout the year. From face lotions to hair gels and everything in between, we are constantly suffocating the planet with a shocking abundance of plastic waste , especially considering that the standard plastic bottle can take up to 450 years to break down . Related: The Refill Shoppe enforces zero-waste packaging, provides bulk refills for household and beauty products Thankfully, there is a new green option for shampoo users that not only helps reduce waste but adds a touch of sustainable luxury to your toiletries. Soapack is a collection of shampoo bottles that are cast from soap that melts away after they are completely used. Each Soapack bottle is made out of a vegetable oil-based soap that is dyed with mineral pigments, plants and flowers. Similar to the process of making ceramic containers, the mixture is poured into molds of various shapes. The bottles are then lined with a thin layer of beeswax to make them waterproof and prevent the liquid contents from completely dissolving when in contact with water. The best place to store the bottles is on a soap dish, so that they can slowly melt away without making a mess, eventually disappearing after use instead of leaving behind another discarded bottle in the trash . The design was inspired by antique perfume bottles — opaque shells with light pastel hues and delicate, shapely curves. Although they are designed to melt away, if kept dry, the sustainable soap bottles can even be used as a decorative feature. With the innovative packaging design , Zhou hopes to revolutionize the packaging industry for the good of the planet. “Product packaging has always been thrown away, no matter how well-designed or what material it is made of,” Zhou explained. “I want to re-evaluate what packaging could be as well as help us to reduce our plastic footprint.” + Mi Zhou Design Images via Mi Zhou

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Sustainable toiletries packaged in soap aim to eliminate single-use plastics

Sustainably-sourced sunglasses built to last a lifetime rather than a season

June 26, 2019 by  
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Living a sustainable lifestyle is about more than backyard composting and prolific use of Mason jars in lieu of plastic. To truly reach any level of sustainability we need to be aware of every purchase we make including how the product was made and even the packaging used. Although our conscientious purchasing decisions carry weight, corporate responsibility is where the real change will occur — enter Just Human. Just Human feels the burden of that responsibility and has decided to do something about it in the form of long-lasting, quality sunglasses built to last a lifetime, not a season. Related: These sustainable sunglasses smell like coffee and decompose into fertilizer The creation of the sunglasses released earlier this year began with four principals: Focus on the entire system of product creation, from materials to manufacturing to packaging. Streamline the design so that there are only a few products in production, each with a unisex design to serve as many people as possible. Combine function and fashion with a high-performing lens. Focus on durability for a product that won’t end up in the landfill anytime soon. Rather than relying on cheap synthetic materials that have become mainstream in the industry, Just Human sources material for the frames from softwood trees that are sustainably harvested and have earned FSC certification. The glass lenses are made from sand and minerals instead of petroleum-based plastic. Even the cutoffs from lens production are recycled and used for the next round of lens material. Pineapple leaf fibers (we’re hearing a lot about these lately!) and recycled water bottles make up the material for the case that house the sunglasses. The included cleaning cloth is produced using fabric made from 2.5 plastic water bottles . Carrying the eco-friendly idea through to the packaging, Just Human uses 100 percent post-consumer cardboard, eco-friendly inks and compostable tape made from wood pulp. Just Human understands that a focus on sustainability is a mute point if the product doesn’t meet the needs of the consumer so they’ve aimed to combine that focus with function and fashion. Incorporating sports technology into the lens allows them to filter out damaging UVs and glare while providing heat and scratch resistance. In the end, the goal is to provide a luxury product that will endure decades of use without impacting the planet . Wouldn’t it be nice if more companies adopted this simple philosophy? + Just Human Images via Just Human

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Sustainably-sourced sunglasses built to last a lifetime rather than a season

Labo Mono turns plastic water bottles into Urban Jackets for cycling and everyday use

June 19, 2019 by  
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The process started with a miserable bike ride in the rain and ended with a new company, Labo Mono, and development of its first product: the Urban Jacket. London-based designer Ali Namdari sought out a fashionable and useful jacket after being caught in a rainstorm while biking home. With no luck finding this combination, he decided to make his own. The idea for bold prints on a jacket that can be worn socially as well as functionally repel rain has hit home with followers on the Kickstarter campaign, which has raised more than twice the original goal. It’s not just the colorful, stand-out look that has appealed to backers, but also the goal to produce the Urban Jacket with ethical manufacturing practices and sustainable materials . Related: Everlane introduces long-lasting outerwear made from recycled water bottles With this in mind, Labo Mono incorporates over 30 recycled plastic bottles into each jacket. The company notes that this not only provides a second life for water bottle waste, but also significantly reduces water, energy and carbon dioxide emissions during production. Labo Mono also set out to find an alternative to the traditional waterproofing material known as PFC (perfluorinated chemicals) that endangers water, humans and wildlife . The goal was to offer a trendy option coupled with functional design, so the Urban Jacket features high waterproof protection, discreet armpit zippers, roomy pockets, a hood created to allow room for a helmet, a long back to protect against road spray, reflective components and breathable fabric. “We definitely don’t aim to blend in. Colors, prints and usability are frontiers that we are always exploring,” Namdari said. “We’re on a mission to create pieces of clothing that aren’t just fun and pleasant to look at, but also cleverly functional and versatile. All that while using the most sustainable materials possible.” In seeking out partners for manufacturing, the company placed an emphasis on finding companies that share its philosophy of ethical practices. Labo Mono found what it was looking for in a production facility in China that specializes in outerwear and a German manufacturer that creates the PFC-free, water-repellent finish that will be applied to the fabric of the Urban Jacket. Looking ahead to future products, Labo Mono selected a company in Portugal for manufacturing tees and pants made from recycled materials . The Kickstarter campaign ends on June 20, 2019. + Labo Mono Images via Labo Mono

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Labo Mono turns plastic water bottles into Urban Jackets for cycling and everyday use

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