The Good, The Bad and the Wacky – Eco inventions.
Some inventions are so amazing that we wonder how we lived without them. Some are just so simple they are brilliant, whilst others are more complex. Some we wish we had invented. Others we were planning to invent until someone beat us to it. The same can be said of recent Eco inventions. Some, however, might lead us to wonder who on earth could have imagined they were a good idea, let alone who on earth would be interested in using them. Some may seem so wacky that they are hilarious, and the very idea makes us laugh. If only Mike and Sulley of Monsters Inc, courtesy of Disney Pixar and any researchers they inspired, could actually harness the power produced by laughter as an energy source, then these amusing eco inventions could have a dual purpose. They could be “useful” eco-friendly products whilst also producing alternative energy from the ensuing laughter! That would be less unconventional than some of the eco-friendly inventions that have actually been invented.
At some point in history, when most of our “can’t live without” inventions were introduced, they might have been received with less than enthusiastic responses. The list of good, bad and predominantly wacky eco inventions is endless. The ones selected here are listed in no particular order. I make no comment as to which category they fall into. A few might prompt the question, “Who on earth thought that was a good idea?” But who am I to judge? One person’s logic is apparently another person’s crazy! Maybe in the future we will find that along with the wacky inventions of previous ages that are now mainstream, we cannot actually live without them!
Let there be light
The invention of the light bulb was momentous in the history of mankind. Inventions are even referred to as ‘light bulb” Eco inventors are now looking at ways to produce more energy efficient and long lasting light bulbs. There was initial excitement over earlier versions of the eco light bulb, until sadly they were discovered to have harmful effects.
One of the interesting natural inventions which has not yet found its way into our homes, is the blood lamp. When designer Mike Thomspon asked himself, “What if power came at a cost to the individual?” he ended up creating the blood lamp as a statement on energy conservation. This single-use lamp requires a drop of blood to be activated — a small personal sacrifice that will really make you think twice before turning on the lights. The lamp’s secret ingredient is luminol, the chemical forensic scientists use to check for blood, which glows blue when it reacts with the iron in red blood”
A more popular reminder of the value of saving energy is Tio, designed by Tim Holley. It is a light switch that communicates in no uncertain terms if electrical lighting is being used appropriately or wasted.
If a light is left on Tio changes colour from Green (Good), to orange (uncomfortable) to very red (angry). Which is great, unless your child likes his light switch looking like an ‘angry bird’.
This next idea is great for the Eco conscious night clubbers. “If you are a person who likes social life and enjoys spending Friday evenings in dancing clubs then there is one way you can contribute to the protection of the environment. You probably frown now and wonder which how it can be. There is a bar in London called Bar Surya which gets its electricity from its floor. How is this possible? The floor has been re-outfitted with springs that, when being compressed by dancers, produce electrical current that is stored in batteries and used later. Therefore the electricity bill no longer comes as a burden for the owner of this bar. According to the club’s owner Andrew Charalambous, the dance floor can produce 60 percent of the club’s power needs.”
Organic waste products can be recycled into energy to power vehicles
Amanda Staller reported on The Power of Poo: Britain’s Bio-Bushas developed the new 40-seat Bio-Bus, which is powered by human waste. In technical terms, the bus runs on the bio methane gas that is produced at a sewage treatment works in Avonmouth. According to BBC, the bus can travel up to 300 km – or 186 miles – on one tank of gas. One tank would be equivalent to the annual waste of five people. Furthermore, the vehicle will emit up to 30 percent less carbon dioxide than conventional diesel vehicles. While this concept may be new in Britain, countries such as Norway, Germany and Sweden have all used, or are using, this natural technology.
The Bio-Bus, nicknamed “the number two,” will transport riders between Bath and Bristol.
Green Sustainable Bathrooms
Bathrooms are no longer considered a luxury in our homes. Water is a valuable resource. We know it is possible to reuse water, rainwater and brown water, but how about Jean-Michel Gauvreus, Zen Garden sink that actually separates the soap suds from the water and automatically waters a plant. Plants are great for cleaning up air quality, and if it was adapted to the kitchen sink you could grow organic herbs.
And if you like that one, you might be interested in the organic Moss Mat. It is difficult to ventilate bathrooms and mold often grows quickly in this environment. With the condensation and varying amounts of water splashing on to the floor how about a living bath mat? Natural Moss thrives in the damp areas. It is soft and spongy underfoot. How could there be a more ultimate green bath mat, made of moss? Photo by the creator, La Chanh Nguyen
Some may struggle with a trip to a non eco-bathroom and find the replacement of soft toilet paper, or even European style toilet paper which uses recycled fiber, with reusable cloth alternatives much more acceptable. This level of commitment to the green movement, is perhaps best suited to use in close, intimate relationships rather than any visiting acquaintances.
As reported in Time, by Dan Fletcher,“Environmental experts recently called toilet paper “one of the greatest excesses of our age,” leading to suggestions that Americans adopt reusable cloth toilet wipes as an environmentally friendly alternative.” Gross? Maybe, but it’s just one of a slew of slightly offbeat ways to save the environment. “He then takes a look at the top ten odd environmental ideas along with TIME’s assessment of just how crazy they are. The list includes Stapleless staplers, eco condoms, urine batteries, bras with chop sticks as under wires, and pig urine plates.
Consumers are demanding more organic, recycled, or at least ethical fashion with a reduced carbon footprint. Some may even advocate nudism as a solution as “ Constant friction caused by fabrics rubbing against the skin produces a chemical gaseous effect similar to ‘greenhouse gases’ which raise up into the atmosphere causing all sorts of carbon pollution. Wearing nothing or going “nude” will help to minimise the gaseous exchange between yourself and the environment.”
However nudists would miss out on the following invention.
- Solar swim wear.When you’re wearing a solar-powered bikini, you can spend the entire day at the beach grooving to your favourite tunes and never have to worry about your iPod battery dying. Andrew Schneider designed this swimwear with photovoltaic film panels and a USB connection as part of a student project for the Interactive Telecommunications Program at New York University. He says the male version of the solar bikini is coming soon.
- Men don’t need to feel left out whilst waiting for solar swimwear to become available. It is also possible for all to do their bit for the environment. A crafter has created some rather lovely crocheted shorts, in stylish retro patterns and colours, made from 100 % recycled materials. These are produced by Lordvon Schmitt. There are other items such as these available from a variety of sources. You could even make your own by reusing left over yarn.
- Why stop at yarn? Apparently it is possible to put the hair your pet sheds to good use? “ Instead of throwing out wads of dog and cat fur, many people have used it to knit sweaters, afghans and handbags. In fact, some people have even made a business out of it. Some spin pet hair for inexperienced knitters, while others have invented custom dog-hair afghans and designer cat-hair handbags”.
Wooden lap tops, bicycles that produce energy for a restaurant in return for a free meal, river gyms that move with the power produced by exercise bikes, printers using old pencil leads. The list goes on. Not all will be greeted with the same enthusiasm as felt by their designer/creator. I must admit I did wince at a few. I am not sure how fellow diners would feel when chop sticks, which double up as bra under wiring, are produced at the dinner table. Those pig urine plates could present a dilemma for the host. The timing of the revelation of that particular component of the crockery could be a deciding factor on the success or failure of that dinner party. And if the same host was keen to only supply reusable cloth toilet wipe, well, let’s just say that sadly some guests may not appreciate the eco efforts being made. It is quite possible that some might not accept an invitation to return for dinner in the near future.
Then again, others might take the challenge and attempt to up the eco stakes for the next get together. Maybe the guests will be wearing the latest eco fashion and arrive by public transportation powered by human waste. You just never know.