Renault’s Artsy Twizy

The elegant and aesthetically artistic, tandem two-seat, all-electric Renault Sport Technologies’ Twizy is on display at the infamous Colette Store in Paris, France from December 5th to 10th, 2011.

The little Twizy is an agile four wheel, zero emission, 15kW (20hp) all-electric urban commuter, with acceleration similar to a 125cc scooter; it can zoom comfortably in city traffic. With the bonus of being able to park in tiny spaces, even perpendicular to the sidewalk, it is sure to find itself popular in Parisian commuter land. There is also a 4kW (5hp) version that does not need a license in Europe.

There is roof protection against the elements and lots of storage space. The Twizy also has air bags, disc brakes and a low center of gravity for good road handling.

The EV needs 3.5 hours to fully charge the 7kWh lithium-ion battery using a 220V 10A power supply that gives a 115km (71.5 mile) range. In Europe the price is €6,990 (US$9,420) inclusive of taxes, and you lease the battery for €45 (US$60) per month with a 7,500km (4,660 mile) yearly travel limit.

Via Renault & GreenAutoBlog

November 30, 2011

Cardboard Vacuum Cleaner

The ‘Vax ev’ vacuum cleaner, made from recycled cardboard and recyclable plastic, is the brainchild of Loughborough University student, Jake Tyler, and was designed for UK vacuum manufacturer Vax.

The ubiquitous vacuum cleaner got a redesign to provide a sustainable product using recycled corrugated cardboard body panels and recyclable materials that otherwise would end up in a landfill. If damaged and in need of replacement, the cardboard parts are only a tenth the price of plastic ones. Also, in a master stroke of design and utility, the cardboard body panels are also the retail box that contains the other plastic vacuum parts, and everything is put together without glue. They are also flame retardant and can be customized with colored pens and pencils.

The plastic components are made from recyclable, pure nylon plastic using rapid prototyping manufacture, rather than injection moulding, so local production is possible rather than having to ship parts a long distance.

Via Vax Press Release

November 30, 2011

A Quiet Wind Turbine?

The Eco Whisper is a low noise wind-turbine, looking more like a jet engine compressor blade than a conventional large aircraft wing-type wind-turbine attached to a hub.

The Eco Whisper is installed at Geelong, Victoria, Australia, and is designed by Renewable Energy Solutions Australia Holdings Ltd, Brisbane, Australia.

The wind turbine uses an automatic slewing mechanism to keep the blades pointing into the wind, and can generate 20kW of power. The Eco Whisper is 21.1m (69.2ft) tall with 6.5m (21.3ft) diameter blades, fitted with an outer cowling that is designed to prevent spanwise airflow, increasing the 30 aluminum blade lifting efficiency and helping generate more power at a given wind speed.

The shorter blades and cowl are claimed to reduce bird deaths and the hinged tower allow the turbine to be maintained or lowered when there are storms.

Visit: Renewable Energy Solutions Australia Holdings Ltd.

Via GizMag

November 29, 2011

Copenhagen Bike Share

Swiss architects and designers Rafaa have created a futuristic Copenhagen bike share system that brings a modern, almost surrealistic feel to the age-old bike stand with its sidewalk recesses to hold the bikes, underground storage and delivery, and a high-tech GPS tracking system. The Copenhagen Bike Share System uses GPS and W-LAN to track bikes around the city, using the knowledge to ensure there are always enough bikes to ride, but still respecting people’s privacy.

The hope is to get 50% of commuters cycling by 2015 with 25,000 bicycles on the streets (needing 20.000sq.m or 215,000sq.ft of street storage space), and thereby greatly reduce the city GHG emissions. The large bike storage problem is solved by having a variety of ‘dispensing’ stations every 300m (984ft) in the city center, that are either underground, at major transport hubs like bus stations, or hanging from bike dispensers mounted atop city lights.

Each bike has an electric motor and a 26V lithium battery giving it a 15km (9.3 mile) trip range and a 50km (31 mile) range between recharges. The aluminum frame contains the electronics, and integrates LEDs for lights. An 8-speed hub gear provides traction.

A credit card is used to check out a bike or you can reserve one via the Internet and have your bike setup electronically with your personal choices (right or left handed, speedy or cruise, etc.). You are only billed if the bike is stolen or damaged, or if you ride for more than 30minutes, after which it costs 5DKK (about US$0.90, or €0.67), with a variety of other charges based on usage times, and the GPS system can lock out the electric power if there is anything goes amiss or someone fancies stealing your sleek city ride.

Visit: http://www.rafaa.ch/

Via TrendsNow

November 29, 2011

Modern Fish and Chip Bag

New Zealand-based creative designer Casey Ng has redesigned the fabled fish and chip wrapper into a BoxBag combo paper bag and stiffer dish-like base, with a perforated strip between the two. Ng’s BoxBag idea sprung from wanting to combine a more modern fish and chip wrapper, but one that can still be ripped open, with a newspaper flyer inside and be disposed of like the traditional newsprint wrapper.

Inside the BoxBag, a sheet of newspaper is printed with local information, for the fish and chip eater to read and learn something about the place where they have just bought the fish and chips. According to Ng’s website, New Zealand’s iconic fish and chip shops serve up about seven million servings of chips a week, or about 120,000 tonnes a year. So his BoxBag could be in high demand, as it offers the same grease absorbing features as traditional newsprint wrapping, better heat insulation, a handy rigid bowl to hold your scrumptious fish and chips, and some local news to boot.

Casey Ng’s BoxBag

The BoxBag comes flat packed and can be unfurled to the length needed to wrap your fish and chips, and does not have newsprint ink like the traditional wrapper which used to leave your greasy fingers blackened after enjoying your take-out meal.

November 25, 2011

Matt Damon Supports Bullfighting

Yuck! I thought Matt Damon was so cool, but he apparently has zero interest in animal welfare. The American actor and founder of the charity www.Water.org, is normally thought of as the ultimate in good guy and somehow manages to keep his image, without a lot of work, squeaky clean, but I am sure he is going to get some backlash for attending a recent bullfight at La Monumental Stadium in Mexico City. During a break from filming Elysium in Mexico, he took in the fight with a group of friends.

“Each year, approximately 250,000 bulls die in bullfights, an inaccurate term for events in which there is very little competition between a nimble, sword-wielding matador (Spanish for ‘killer’) and a confused, maimed, psychologically tormented, and physically debilitated animal,” explains American animal rights’ organization PETA.

However, clearly times are changing for Damon who is also scheduled to appear with Scarlet Johansson in We Bought a Zoo – a film that will also feature an extensive number of live captive animals.

November 24, 2011

Zany Israeli Footwear

Check out the amazing and rather zany footwear designs from Kobi Levi that were recently on display as part of Vibe Israel in Tel Aviv. His fancy footwear includes designs inspired by swans, coffee, penguins and even bananas.

His handmade creations are designed to evoke a sense of fun while still being entirely functional and wearable.

“In my artistic footwear design the shoe is my canvas,” explains the artists’ website. “The combination of the image and footwear creates a new hybrid and the design/concept comes to life. The piece is a wearable sculpture. It is “alive” with/out the foot/body. The result is usually humoristic with a unique point of view about footwear.”

Visit: http://kobilevidesign.blogspot.com/

Via DesignBoom

November 22, 2011

Plastic Bottle Shelves

African recycled plastic laundry soap bottles are cut in half and made into useful shelves by Amandine. The shelves are supported by recycled cardboard.

Visit the Mamawax website to check out a host of amazing recycling innovations.

November 19, 2011

Plantini Growing Kit Houses

Grow your plants in the style in which they should be accustomed to with these stunning self assembly steel etched, 100% recycled paperboard and biodegradable bamboo planters.

Created by Another Studio For Design, in collaboration with Scotland-based Finch & Fouracre, the Plantini Growing Kit Houses stand 9.5cm (3.74inch) high. The planters come complete with instructions, a removable canopy for watering, and glass panes to allow the sunlight to pass through, plus a rice hull planting pot and viola seeds.

Best of all, the Plantini Growing Kit Houses arrive flat-packed and only has four simple components to assembly. They are suitable for flowers, herbs or some easy to grow veggies.

Visit: http://www.another-studio.com/

Via Trendhunter

November 18, 2011

Colorful Bike Tables

Nothing says you love to cycle more than adding one of these colorful, fun and fabulous Fixie Tables to your eco-friendly home.

Designed by Los Angeles-based Pure Fix Cycles, the custom-made tables feature bright neon colours, and come complete with three wheels/urban forks, plus a 42-inch (1.07m) glass top.

Visit: http://purefixcycles.com/

Via Core 77

November 18, 2011

Childhood Pastorale Book Review

Central to Barbara Julian’s wonderful treatise Childhood Pastorale: Children, Nature and the Preservation of Landscape, on the intrinsic value of nature, is her memory of playing freely in ‘magical’ neighborhood gardens that felt to her like being in ‘thick woods’.  She “scrambled over fallen branches and rocky outcrops, dodging holly prickles” and what she pretended were poisonous snakes and spiders.  All this was done right in her own neighborhood, away from the prying eyes of any interfering adults.

Julian presents arguments, in a very poignant manner, which reveal how much value civilization has lost through urbanization and the destruction of forests and green spaces.  Children, she notes, have become ‘saturated’ in technology today and spend endless hours in front of TVs, computers and video games.  As a result, they have lost any connection to nature, as well as to the brain and soul stimulation that come with free play in wilderness spaces.  Further, she says, it is up to us to “guard, honor and preserve the places which we share with the trees, flowers, weeds, vines, mosses, grasses, insects, birds and animals.”

Barbara includes many stories and memories from those of an older generation which reveal how critically important it was for them to spend their early years in forests, on farms and at beaches.

The results from growing up in a “damaged rural environment or overbuilt urban one” are disastrous, she argues, and include obesity, attention deficit disorder, autism, aggression, anxiety, insomnia, eye strain and depression.

This delightful book also discusses how various countries have handled the spread of urbanization.  Barbara Julian herself takes a strong stand on the issue of “nature deficit disorder” and advocates an active approach to stop the current trends.

She recommends we all: (1) speak up for green spaces in our own cities, (2) find out where the safest outdoor spaces are for kids to play in without parents, (3) plant trees and preserve gardens from future subdivisions, (4) lobby for zoning that preserves large lots and heritage gardens, (5) set an example by turning off our computers and getting frequent outdoor exercise, and (6) donate memorial trees for parks and boulevards to help renew urban forests.

Anyone who has sensitivity for nature or how children are growing up today will love this book.  I highly recommend it.

November 18, 2011

Jane’s Journey Documentary

Jane’s Journey is a documentary about the fascinating life and inspirational work of Dr. Jane Goodall, made by filmmaker Lorenz Knauer.

Jane Goodall’s 45 years of studying of wild chimpanzees in Africa, her non-invasive animal research and wildlife conservation, have been an inspiration to many for decades. This is the story of her travels from her childhood home in England, to the Gombe National Park in Tanzania where she returns every year to enjoy the company of the chimpanzees she has researched and come to love.

November 18, 2011

Fantastic Plastic Photos

In the talented hands of American photographer Tomaas, the ugly and ubiquitous plastic that chokes our landfills and oceans is transformed into something hauntingly beautiful.

The ethereal photography series Plastic Fantastic features stunning models covered in items such as plastic forks, bottles, bags, wrappers and straws.

November 17, 2011

100 Landscape Rings

Fragmented Chronicles are fabulous acrylic ring designs that include tiny highly detailed renditions of landscapes, people, animals, and everyday themes.

From Hong Kong designers Chan Oi Yau Riyo and Kwong Ho Sun Howard, created the 100 ring collection to capture a moment frozen in time, including scenes of children playing, a man waiting for a bus, a nun walking in the snow, a bird sitting on a tree and a shepherd with his sheep. Each ring has a story to tell.

Visit: http://www.shannnam.com/

Via Designboom

November 15, 2011

Kitty Meow Cat Beds

Your feline companion can sleep peacefully in these fabulous Kitty Meow cat beds, created by Paul Hendrikx of Dutch design company Studio Mango.

The Kitty Meow is made from polyethylene plastics, is durable and can be used indoors or outside. The design concept was developed for PetsInn Shanghai, China, and really is the cat’s meow for a feline nap.

Visit: http://www.studiomango.nl/

Via Design Milk

November 15, 2011

soleRebels’ New Website

soleRebels, Africa’s amazing eco-footwear company (dubbed the Nike of Africa – but without all the environmental degradation and the unfair labor practices) has a new commerce website that will help expose their brand to a broader international audience.

The multiple award-winning company, located in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, offers more than 600 different styles of handmade sandals and shoes made from recycled tire rubber and organic cottons, and offers a truly zero carbon footprint product.

“We are very excited about the launch of this new soleRebels’ site,” explained soleRebels’ founder Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu. “We believe that consumers want to touch, feel and interact with the soleRebels‘ brand and the new soleRebels’ site is the place for them to do that.”

The site features flash video, fully interactive search capabilities, and a custom SOLE function that allows customers to tailor their footwear to their exact style and colour preferences. Each shoe is handcrafted by local artisans and will be loomed and dyed according to specific customer choices. soleRebels also features a dedicated b*knd section with footwear products created and crafted for vegans, veggies and anyone who doesn’t want any animal related products on their feet.

“We always say that soleRebels began as an idea – that the creation of shoes could be a platform for inspiration and hope,” explains soleRebels’ Tilahun Alemu.

soleRebels remains the planet’s only World Fair Trade Federation [WFTO] FAIR TRADE certified footwear company, the only certification that lets consumers know in a verifiable manner that a company’s entire practices —  everything from labor, wages , working environment — are all Fair Trade compliant. soleRebels currently employs 75 full time and 120 part-time workers.

Visit: http://www.solerebelsfootwear.co/

November 13, 2011

New NYC Bee Species

Brooklyn Botanic Garden, in New York City, has its very own bee species named “Lasioglossum gotham”, which is about the size of a grain of rice (around 3mm in length) and is one of four species recently discovered in the New York area.

In fact, the bees were actually discovered in 2009 by John Ascher from the American Museum of Natural History. The tiny bees nest underground and DNA testing has shown it to be a new bee species, along with others discovered in Westchester, Suffolk, and Nassau Counties. Over 200 species of bees live within New York’s parks and green spaces.

These tiny bees get their food from drinking the sweat of humans and animals (for salts and electrolytes), as well as from pollen and nectar. They are also very important for the pollination of wildflowers, crops, and fruits.

Let’s hope  pesticides, fertilizers and GMO crops don’t interfere with allowing this bee species to flourish.

Via FerreBeekeeper & New York Times

November 13, 2011

High Heeled Guide to Spiritual Living

What is so spiritual about eating animals? Well that depends on your standpoint. For many cultures and religions the sacrifice of animals to be eaten is culturally, socially and spiritually significant. The society I have been raised in is one such society, a roast joint of meat on a Sunday, a Turkey at Christmas or Thanksgiving if you live in the USA, a prime steak as an extravagant Saturday night treat. For people of other faiths, the idea of eating flesh of any kind is abhorrent.

As a vegetarian, I stand by the idea that eating meat is cruel and unnecessary and yet, until recently, as an on/off, part-time vegetarian, I still did it. Until recently it would still happen that my head or my stomach ruled my heart and I would happily tuck into a bacon sandwich.

Let’s be final about this. I do not love meat; I prefer the vegetarian option every time. I believe all animals on the planet to be equally splendid souls; none should be viewed as lesser. I hold no water with the belief that any creature was put here for us to eat. Yes, it remains true that a deer may well be placed here for the lion to prey on. But I am no lion; I do have a choice, and a conscious – when I choose to engage it. I love those darned furry things, yet continuing to eat meat stood in direct opposition to this so-called love of animals. I was a hypocrite with blood on my hands.

So, if I believe that eating animals is unpleasant and unspiritual, why did I continue to do so for so long? I will be honest here; sometimes it is easier to just not think about the consequences of our actions. The poor creature is already dead (once it is conveniently delivered from slaughterhouse to supermarket). I can afford it, and it smells great roasted. In such instances I chose not to engage my consciousness. Which I am ashamed to say is just about as ignorant and arrogant as you can get.

However, I cannot be unconscious any more. I want to love animals genuinely and that does not include the ingestion and digestion of their bodies. There are no options. For me it is vital that I never eat meat again.

The reason I feel so strongly about this is because I have now engaged my brain with my soul, and there is no turning back. My spiritual soulful conscious thought knows this. I think that all animals, and all living creatures are part of this world. I believe us all to be connected on a basic, fundamental level. I have preached my way through the pages of this book about how important it is to be good, forgiving, and compassionate to our fellow humans. Yet I truly believe that animals are made of the same psychic, spiritual, energetic matter as the rest of us.

Animals have souls. Animals deserve to live the best life they possibly can. I shall have no part in causing their lives to be a misery.

Animal rights are a frontier that many traverse only partially. We may wail and mourn for the puppy that was cruelly tortured and abandoned, but we think nothing of the life of torture and deprivation of basic comfort inflicted upon chickens, the dairy cow or other animals whose lives are irreparably limited for the benefits of our hungry stomachs.

You would not condone the slavery of humans, so why condone it on our fellow living creatures? Is it because they cannot speak, because they submit to our will, because the Bible says that we can use all plants and animals as we choose to?

Our consciousnesses must be raised, and this topic is vitally important in that battle. We must start to look outside of our own minds at some point on our spiritual pathway. Yes the mind is a great place to start, followed by our hobbies and our habits, but soon we must turn to the state of the world. What we eat, how our food is produced and the effect this has on the well being of the planet, on so many different levels, must be addressed. I was going to pussyfoot around this subject. That was only because I was pussyfooting around it in my own life.

I cannot afford to do that any more if I want to like myself and live what I believe to be correct. I must commit myself to my spiritual cause. It is time to get fierce with my food. It is time to wake up and realize that what we eat can affect our spiritual sanity, our level of personal spiritual awakening and the lives of millions of animals and people worldwide.

Let me be blunt. I believe that eating animals can block your spiritual progression. If you are in denial about the harm that is caused every time you sit down to a meat-laden meal then you are not raising your consciousness to a spiritual level. I’m sorry if that sounds harsh, but I sincerely believe it to be true.

Animals are not happy when they are kept in confined spaces, they mourn and moan when their offspring are taken from them and they live in confinement, only to be killed. If all things are made up of energy, and our thoughts can become our lives, then surely animals’ feelings go straight into the energetic remnants of their flesh. Which we then consume, and so we eat their misery and we eat their fear. This cannot be good.

When meat comes packaged in cellophane it is easy not to allow those thoughts to enter your mind. It is easy to see a great deal on offer and put yourself and your family’s finances first. But really you are not doing yourselves any favors because while you grabbed a bargain, you are living against your better knowing. Nor are you being kind, loving and generous to the world around you.

In buying meat you are purchasing a product that has caused great suffering to the creature that died to provide it. You cannot get away from that fact. Your consumer choice is promoting the suffering of that cow, duck, chicken, pig or turkey. You are saying yes to abominable cruelty and telling the people who make those products that you want more.

Of course there is the option of free-range meat. I questioned this for a while. I figured that if the animal has had a happy life, then maybe eating it was ok. This, however, is again just my mind overruling my heart. No matter how happy that animal’s life, and how painless the death of it might be, it is not my place to choose if that animal lives or dies.

My natural spiritual position is one of non-violence, peace, love and respect of the planet and all who abide upon her. Eating meat does not fit into that equation. When I eat meat it goes against my soul’s knowing and the knock-on effect of this is that my spirituality stalls. So now, for all these reasons, I do not eat meat.

I believe that because of my choice to live consciously in all aspects of my life I am psychically raising the bar. I am respecting my place on this earth as a spiritual being who is connected to all other things.

Excerpt from The High Heeled Guide to Spiritual Living by Alice Grist. Published 2011 by John Hunt Publishing/Soul Rocks.

November 8, 2011

Plastic Harvesting Ship

This is ingenious! Royal College of Art graduates Alexander Groves, Azusa Murakami and Kieren Jones have designed a plastic collecting ship utilizing an old fishing trawler that is re-engineered to scoop up plastic from the oceans and then sort the debris by size. A flotation tank separates out the denser materials.

If this wasn’t cool enough, The Sea Chair Project then transforms some of the harvested plastic directly into recycled chairs via an onboard chair-making factory.

The Sea Chair Project looks to address the problem of accumulating plastic in our oceans by raising awareness and removing plastic that will continue to circulate for thousands of years,” explain the designers. “Plastic waste doesn’t sink and takes thousands of years to degrade, remaining in the environment to be broken up into ever-smaller fragments by ocean currents. As our society’s consumption grows the concentration of this plastic soup increases.”

Part of the problem is that the plastic fragments include a large quantity of what is known in the industry as nurdles or ‘mermaids tears’ – the plastic pellets that are the virgin raw material for injection moulding. Unfortunately, these lethal nurdles can be found littered on almost every beach and shoreline in the world.

“These pellets are around 2mm (0.08inch) in diameter & represent an estimated 10% of all marine litter worldwide, their small size means they aren’t picked up by waste systems and being buoyant they will float on the sea surface, taking over a thousand years to biodegrade,” they explain. “The nurdles haven’t been injection moulded yet, but rather have been lost through spillage in transit and poor storage at factories.”

The United Nations (UN) states that roughly 13,000 nurdles are floating in every square mile (5000 per sq.km) of the ocean. Resembling fish eggs, they enter the food chain and end up killing fish, sea creatures and birds. Biologists estimate that more than 100,000 marine animals and birds die each year from ingesting plastic or getting caught up in plastic and drowning.

The Sea Chair Project has been short listed for the Victoriana Time To Care Award.

November 5, 2011