Legos with a purpose. They’ve moved beyond the playground

This Braille printer was built using Legos

This Braille printer was built using Legos

Legos aren’t just for playing with. They are being used in a surprising variety of ways, for some pretty amazing things.

I recently came across two that definitely have the “wow” factor.

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The Paint Cover helps keep paint fresh

The Paint Brush CoverStopping in the middle of a project means dealing with messy, drippy paint brushes. Take a break and you could come back to a dried up brush. The alternative has been rinsing multiple times, wasting paint and wasted water, to say nothing of having to regularly replace paint brushes gone bad.

New York City firefighter Sal DePaola knows this problem well. After years of being bothered by having to constantly buy new paint brushes for his painting business, DePaola came up with a solution – a brush cover with an air-tight seal.

The idea languished for years because DePaola thought someone else would eventually do it. But since no one did, in 2011 he had an engineer draw a mock-up of what became the Paint Brush Cover.

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LifeStraw – a simple way to get clean water wherever you go

Backpackers and hikers know that having clean water is critical. But carrying enough water is bulky and will weigh you down. The LifeStraw is a handy device that solves this problem.

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Green ideas everyone can appreciate

Looking for ways to green your lifestyle that don’t break the bank? Then you want the new CD Eco Trends: Keys to Affordable Green.

This exciting CD profiles 24 of the newest cool. affordable eco-friendly products – real eco-innovations that help make life just a little bit easier. All the products have been tested and verified to be top quality – and no greenwashing!

Want to find great green alternatives to those everyday products we all grew up with?  This CD delivers what you want.

As one customer said recently:

 (Eco Trends) provides an excellent resource for consumers looking for  easy, affordable ways to add more green to their lifestyle.

 So check it out today at http://bit.ly/pdvDQJ. You’ll be surprised at just how easy it is to have an affordable green lifestyle.

Conserve Smart AV cuts energy leakage from electronics

Conserve Smart AV lets you reduce the level of standby energy your electronics waste

As we fill our homes with an ever-growing array of electronics, we also increase the amount of energy we waste.

A large number of gadgets continuously “leak” small amounts of electricity when they’re plugged in but not in use. That accounts for hundreds of dollars added to our annual utility bills. Home entertainment systems are real energy hogs, consuming wasted energy 24/7 just by being in stand-by mode.

Now there’s a device that can automatically shut them down when they’re not in use. For more on this story see http://bit.ly/qJBKGP.

Redeux – eco-friendly, healthy wallpaper

96 percent of wallpapers tested contained PVC and other toxic chemicals

A report released last fall by the non-profit Ecology Center revealed that a majority of home improvement products are filled with toxic chemicals.

Of the over 2,300 types of wallpaper tested, from 11 different brands and manufacturers. 96 percent contained PVC (polyvinyl chloride) coatings. One of the most common materials used in consumer products, PVC contains phthalates, which accumulate in our body tissues, can damage our liver and lungs, and have been shown to cause damage to reproductive organs in lower mammals.

Rather than installing wall coverings that could prove hazardous to your family’s health, there’s an equally beautiful, eco-friendly alternative.

Trove's elegant, eco-friendly wallpapers focus on themes found in Nature

New York-based design house Trove has introduced their REDEUX wallcoverings for both commercial and residential use.

“Trove strives to create a product that’s minimally harmful and least impactful to our endangered world,” says Jee Levin, Trove’s co-founder and creator.

Along with adding elegance to a room, Redeux wall coverings are earth and people friendly. Made from over 31 percent post-consumer recycled materials, these lovely wallpapers are highly breathable, unlike conventional wall coverings.

“A lot of vinyl wall coverings peel off the walls,” said Levin. In a bathroom, that can create an environment perfect for mold.

Redeux’s breathability increases resistance to mold and mildew, especially in humid environments.

Redeux wallpapers also produce no off-gassing and has low VOC emissions, both of which help create a healthier air quality. They’re a perfect alternative to PVC-laced vinyl wallcoverings.

Trove’s wallpapers are known for their durability. Their UV resistant inks will last for 140 years, though the product’s lifespan – the combination of laminates, coatings, ink, etc. – may not last quite as long. These wall coverings have a non-toxic, wax-based protective coating and are printed on commercial-grade paper.

Trove's Indi wallpaper is a tribute to Hitchcock's famous "The Birds"

Redeux wall coverings are a surprising combination of color and elements found in Nature.

One of their selections really caught my eye. Their Indi wallpaper is an action shot of a flock of blackbirds in flight.

“It’s a classic motif,” said Levin. And, she said, it’s unusual, particularly for wallpaper, which generally shows birds as static or motionless.

A graphic tribute to Alfred Hitchcock and his film “The Birds”, Indi was the winner of a design award in 2009.

Trove wallcovereings are designed with sustainability in mind. Everything is custom printed to the exact measurements of the design project.

“We only print as much material as people need to use,” Levin said.

The company has established a reclamation or recycling program too. If there’s any excess or waste material, it can be sent back to Trove for reuse as part of a new wall covering or to be recycled as another industrial material.

That’s yet another green “plus” of Redeux. Standard PVC vinyl is difficult to recycle and is hazardous to dispose of.

“(Redeux is) a green, healthy product,” said Levin.

Redeux comes in a full line of patterns, custom colors and beautiful custom designs that are perfect for either residential or hospitality settings. Available in showrooms in Los Angeles, New York and in Canada, designers can also order it – with a fast turnaround of around three weeks. It’s available online at www.troveline.com.

Green your kid’s lunch and cut waste too

Americans throw out 100 billion plastic bags each year. We use 60,000 of them every five seconds. Such widespread use causes the deaths of over 100,000 seabirds, dolphins, whales, and other sea animals each year. They mistake these bags for food, ingest them and die horribly or become entangled in the plastic and suffocate to death.

The average schookid’s lunch uses 4 plastic bags. Multiply that by 5 days a week and that’s a lot of plastic.

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