From hybrid cars to more conservative light bulbs, today’s market is flooded with products that aid us in our daily affairs and do their part to help the environment. The entries on this list may have slipped under the radar a little, but that shouldn’t take away from the innovative thinking behind them ― or their usefulness in our everyday lives.
Bedol Water Clock
Before you chime in and remind us that everyone uses their phone as an alarm clock these days, let’s just pause for a moment and marvel at the idea of a clock that is powered entirely by water. The good conservationists at Bedol have created a colorful series of timepieces that will run for up to 12 weeks on a single tank of tap water. And thanks to a built-in memory chip, the clock will retain proper time even while you’re filling it up. Cool, right? OK, you can go back to your phone now.
Catching Wind Power
Wind power, while significantly more beneficial for the environment than oil- or coal-powered energy, is still regarded as the ‘black sheep’ of renewable resources. Turbines are loud, the vibrations have been known to cause health problems for folks who live nearby, and the powerful blades are said to kill thousands of birds, bats, and other flying creatures on an annual basis. Enter Raymond Green (yes, that’s his name), an 89-year-old engineer from California who took pity on our winged friends and invented a device he calls ‘Catching Wind Power’. It’s essentially a large drum that contains all the movable parts that constitute a wind turbine, compared to other models that leave the blades exposed. For the record, it also makes the turbines much quieter.
Deep Green Kite
In theory you could use this on land, but the DGK ― which is more accurately described as a turbine ― is best used underwater at a depth of 60-150 meters. The device is tied to the ocean floor and allowed to drift freely; as the tide pushes against the kite, water passes through the turbine at a rate of up to 10 times faster than the water around the device. Minesto, the company that developed the DGK, estimates the kite generates 500 kilowatts of energy per hour ― enough to run an average American household for two weeks. And since they’re relatively compact (the wingspan extends about 40 feet), they should cost much less than other hydropower implements ― but you’ll have to wait a bit, since these babies haven’t quite made it to the market (the goal is 2015).
Designer Clothing (Made from Cigarette Butts)
It shouldn’t be surprising that cigarette butts are one of the most prevalent forms of litter on earth, as well as one of the most destructive. They leak a slew of toxic chemicals into the ground wherever they lie, and then there’s the whole forest fire issue. So Chilean fashion designer Alexandra Guerrero devised a clever way to put butts to good use: a series of garments rendered from discarded ciggies. Don’t worry, these threads aren’t as gross as you might think: an autoclave is used to sterilize each butt, a special solvent is used to rinse away the germs, and then the process is repeated. Plus, if you’re wearing one of these garments and someone asks you what they’re made from, you can say, “100-percent butt.” Because everyone secretly wants an excuse to use that phrase.
These nifty little gadgets first appeared more than three years ago, but have yet to catch on with the general public. Most mobile device chargers, as any 21st century adult can probably attest, require one of two things: an electrical outlet or a battery. YoGen requires neither ― and no, it’s not solar-powered either. Instead, the charger is powered when you (or someone else with hands) tugs on the drawstring handle and powers an internal alternator. Think of it as a wind-up toy that charges your portable devices ― and in just a few minutes.