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

Innovative window solar charger is designed for apartment dwellers

June 13, 2019 by  
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Just months ago, the innovative team at Grouphug revealed the adorable Solar Cat that made the world go “Aww.” Now, the New-York based tech company has just released a very practical Window Solar Charger designed to let apartment dwellers generate their own solar energy in order to power their devices. Recently launched on Kickstarter , the Window Solar Charger was conceived from the idea that everyone should be able to generate their own clean energy. While homeowners have much more control over their power sources, renters and people on the go often have very little options to live a truly sustainable lifestyle. Related: Meet Solar Cat, a cute and creative take on renewable energy After years of being frustrated with how hard it is to adapt solar energy in her own NYC apartment, Grouphug’s founder and lead product designer, Krystal Persaud, decided to invent a personal solar-powered charger geared toward those apartment dwellers who want to be more sustainable. Essentially, the charger is a 13-inch-by-10-inch bamboo frame with four thin solar panels. The charger can be hung in any window to soak up direct sunlight into the battery that is built into the frame. After approximately eight to 10 hours of sunlight, phones and other small devices can be plugged directly into the frame’s USB port. Devices can be charged day or night, and on average, a full battery can charge iPhones two times and Android phones one to one-and-a-half times. + Grouphug + Window Solar Charger Kickstarter Images via Grouphug

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Innovative window solar charger is designed for apartment dwellers

This Cradle to Cradle certified outdoor furniture raises the bar on sustainability

February 21, 2019 by  
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It’s no secret that single-use plastic has caused massive worldwide pollution . While some companies have embraced the technology behind turning single-use plastic into fabrics and other materials as a way to remove it from the waste stream, they often only include a percentage of the recycled material, still relying heavily on virgin materials. They often are still producing waste during the process and after consumption of the product. Meanwhile, one company, Loll Designs, has taken the  plastic  recycling method to the top level by maximizing the percentage of recycled materials in its outdoor furniture line as well as ensuring that the products are recyclable at the end of their usable lifespan. Loll Designs’ durable, all-weather outdoor furniture is made from 100 percent  recycled materials, such as single-use milk jugs. This has resulted in recycling more than 95 million milk jugs into modern furniture. In addition to responsibly sourcing materials, the company understands the impact of manufacturing, so 95 percent of manufacturing waste heads directly to local recycling plants to be used again. Even better, at the end of the life cycle, all components of the products, from the plastic to the brass inserts and steel fasteners, are recyclable. Related: Interview with green architect and Cradle to Cradle founder William McDonough As a manifestation of this dedication to sustainable practices in the sourcing of materials and throughout the manufacturing process, Loll Designs recently earned the coveted Cradle to Cradle certification for its efforts. With the highest level of transparency and required third-party verification, this is a pinnacle achievement in the industry. Cradle to Cradle certification is measured through an intense review of five categories including material health, material re-utilization, renewable energy and carbon management, water stewardship and social fairness throughout the organization as well as the supply chain. C2C certification is an empowering way for consumers to know their purchasing dollars are supporting sustainable practices. As a further marker of the company’s investment in sustainability and human health, it participates in 1% for the Planet, makes its furniture in the U.S. to support local economies and reduce transportation emissions  and regularly plants trees as well as participates in community trash pick-up events. + Loll Designs Images via Loll Designs

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This Cradle to Cradle certified outdoor furniture raises the bar on sustainability

‘House of Trash’ proves how waste can transform into beautiful home design

May 30, 2018 by  
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Taipei-based engineering firm Miniwiz is already known as a pioneer in technology for the  circular economy , but now it is determined to find a new place for old waste — back into our homes. The innovative company has recently teamed up with homeware company  Pentatonic to create the House of Trash, a home design exhibit that showcases everyday decor and furniture made from post-consumer waste. Already known internationally, The House of Trash celebrates Miniwiz’s expansion into the Milan market. Located on Foro Bonaparte in the center of the city, the home is filled with various prototype products designed by Pentatonic . According to its description, the space is a 360-degree real-world demonstration of what can be achieved by converting consumer waste into usable products. Related: Miniwiz’s Stylish Re-Wine Desktop Lamp is Made from 100% Trash Everything from food packaging and coffee cups to furniture and artwork in the house is made with trash. Also on display will be prototypes of Pentatonic’s AirTool Soft, which is a line of modular fabric components woven from trash on Italian looms. Additional displays include recycled pieces by multidisciplinary Italian architect, Cesare Leonardi and an art series, “We’re All In This Together,” by famed graffiti artist, Mode2 . After its unveiling, the home will become a permanent place where the sustainably-minded companies can display their latest  green innovations . The space will allow people and companies of all backgrounds to come together and collaborate on ideas that address sustainability, recycling and eco-consciousness. According to Miniwiz founder Arthur Huang, Milan is the perfect setting to find a real market for the innovative “trash technologies.” He said, “There is no better place than Milan to engage designers and architects with our trash innovation and circular technology.” + Miniwiz + Pentatonic Images via Miniwiz

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‘House of Trash’ proves how waste can transform into beautiful home design

This luxury Miami home brings the tropical landscape indoors

May 30, 2018 by  
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Cape Town-based architecture firm SAOTA has completed a luxury waterfront home in Miami that boasts envious views toward the Atlantic Ocean and Miami Beach. Sandwiched between the Indian Creek Canal and Pine Tree Drive in the city’s historic Collins Waterfront district, the expansive home—called the Pine Tree Residence—prioritizes an indoor-outdoor living environment. The home also derives inspiration from the firm’s South African roots with its emphasis on the outdoors and “easy-living.” Completed as SAOTA’s first project in Miami, the Pine Tree family home is punctuated with palm trees and continuous views of water throughout. To take advantage of the site’s strong linear proportions, the architects installed large windows that allow for views straight through the home. The porosity of the home and the layout allow homeowners to enjoy views of the outdoors from almost any vantage point in the home. The Pine Tree home also overlooks the activity of the canal ; however, punched anodized aluminum screens can be used to ensure privacy when needed. “The design is as much about containment as it is about the views through the many living spaces, towards the Atlantic Ocean and world-renowned Miami Beach,” says SAOTA director, Philip Olmesdahl. “While the overall contemporary architectural design is a key focus of the SAOTA design team, the use and connectivity of the spaces is the primary driver – how the house lives.” The pool dominates the home’s footprint and the amount of water on the site is about half of the six-bedroom house. The large pool courtyard offers a buffet of entertaining options and includes a hot tub, barbecue area, bar, and even a two-story waterslide that serves as a focal point at the pool pavilion. Related: Foster + Partners unveil plans for a pair of hurricane-resistant high rises in Miami The interior is awash in natural light and the spaces were designed in collaboration with Nils Sanderson. The contemporary and harmonious finishes and furnishings establish the home as a calm retreat from stressful city life. Warm tones are achieved through a mixture of timber and other materials such as callacatta and limestone.  Raymond Jungles designed the landscape. + SAOTA Images via SAOTA

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This luxury Miami home brings the tropical landscape indoors

Electricity-free, foot-powered washing machine is slated for release this summer

April 11, 2018 by  
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The Drumi, from product design company Yirego , is a washing machine powered by your feet — no electricity necessary. The device uses six to 12 liters of water per load, and can wash almost five pounds of clothes in around five minutes. Inhabitat first covered the little washing machine in 2015, and we checked in with Yirego to hear how they’ve improved the product, slated for release this summer. Yirego designed an environmentally friendly washing machine powered by you. And after more than 10,000 hours of product development, the Drumi is in production, and the company is aiming to release it in the summer of 2018. As they progressed past the early stages of design , they made a few key changes to improve the washing machine. Related: The zero-electricity Gentlewasher does the laundry in five minutes flat One change is the carrying handle. Users only need one hand to transport the machine, as opposed to holding both sides with the earlier model. The handle doubles as a lock, keeping the lid in place as a user peddles. The production model is now shorter than the earlier model; Yirego lowered the machine’s center of gravity to boost stability and durability. Also, they addressed peoples’ concerns that a dirty machine would impact their skin and laundry by enabling users to remove the drum out of the new Drumi for easy cleaning. Yirego said they’ve filed patents for these technologies. The washing machine is aimed at people living off the grid , in small urban apartments, or in mobile homes , to name a few. It can be utilized for small loads containing clothing like activewear or delicates. About five minutes is all it takes to clean clothes in the Drumi: around two minutes to wash, two to rinse, and 30 seconds to spin dry. You can pre-order the machine, which costs $299, in silver or green on the Yirego website . + Yirego Images courtesy of Yirego

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